Fri Mar 20, 2020

For all of us, the news and writing around the Corona Virus (Covid-19)  seems overwhelming right now. And yes, I wrote about it when SXSW closed. The truth is that no one really knows what is going to happen. And it might not be as bad as you think.

This will be like 9/11 - ‘a before and after’ Covid-19.  9/11 affected a lot of security and border issues, Covid-19 will directly affect the music industry like nothing really before.  Record labels, studios, and publishers will be fine. Here it is the live industry that will get hit the hardest. The live sector is still the biggest part of the music industry, over fifty percent in most parts of the world. Also, this sector hasn’t had problems like this ever before. Just that we closed smaller gig places. That hasn’t affected the big companies, Covid-19  has now just affected everyone big time.

The government says they will help companies with different things. Even with that said the hotels, theme parks, and venues are huge giants even compared to the biggest booking agency. You must calculate them as small companies and they will experience the hardest hits. We can see a lot of structures in the live industry going to change even with government involvement and assistance.

Right now, it’s very hard to predict how everything will unfold. It depends if this state of emergency is at its peak and how long this will continue. The longer it goes on the bigger the effects. Just this week the companies started to squirm a bit and that is just in one week. We don’t know if these companies are living on the edge and a break in the income is going to devastate them after a week or do they have a stash of cash to survive six months?

These are my thoughts on what I think might actually happen.

First, don’t look at it as a disaster. Music will not die. In Italy, they sing from the balconies. What can change is the structure. When structures, change opportunities will arise. Look at this as a giant opportunity. Go with the flow.

The big live company’s power might be over. Their big arenas might shutdown and contracts for these might be up in the air since they might change hands of ownership if they can’t come back after the crisis. One scenario is also that their staff that they need to fire on the big concert arenas might find new work and not coming back which could make them lose contracts. Here are opportunities when it goes back to grab things if you want to move into that section. One of those things could be that people that are laid off start new companies that have an inbuilt knowledge to take over the arenas.

The live industry will lose people because they must minimize their structure and payroll. That will free up a lot of new people that are quite experience that might do their own thing and hopefully, that will divide the market into smaller sections. Which is a good thing for musicians and artists. Maybe bar staff l that were working there now see an opportunity to open or manage their own establishment when the crises open up for new renting contracts and a structure of smaller places in when the dust settles.

People will change their habits. Suddenly they will consume other things. During this time, they might find a new TV-series to watch and other ways to communicate that will be a new way of life. These will be new channels to put your music in. Maybe smaller establishments will be cooler because people want to have a good time but closer to home. We might see a new wave of clubs to perform when all is said and done.

Smaller venues will come back first. People might think this is charming and start going there instead of the larger venues and concerts. New ideas and beginnings will appear. Old festivals and institutions might go bust and in that new things will rise and that is always a new opportunity.

The only thing we can predict is that there will be changes. ‘A before and after’ the Covid-19 outbreak for sure.

For me, it’s business as usual. Instead of the meetings and personal appearances around the world, I now get my opportunity to work with the team to really launch the radio station Cashbox Radio in full force this week on a global level.

Everything bad has something good to come with it. It's the end of the world as we know it, not the end of the world.

Editor’s Note: Peter Åstedt has been working in the music industry for over 30 years. He has started record labels, distribution systems, and publishing companies. Peter also runs several major showcase festivals and is an advisor for INES and co-founder of MusicHelp/Discover Sensation. He has worked with the Top Ten most streamed songs and had music on both the Olympics and SuperBowl. Peter has currently taken up the seat of Station Manager of Cashbox Radio, working with MD, PD and station owner, Sandy Graham.