😷 That Minecraft music festival is off to a dismal start; How rap is profiting off hand sanitizer & masks; Mark Mulligan on recovery economics; Serbia's Exit Festival reduces capacity by 90%

Daily update for the music business on the coronavirus (July 10)

How Rap Is Profiting Off The Hand Sanitizer & Mask Game (Okayplayer)

“Just the ability for us to create donations to the homeless shelters, both in the form of hand sanitizer and in the form of money as well, was powerful and exciting for us. It wasn’t about creating something protective. It was more about how we can do our part to help raise money for a great cause during an unprecedented pandemic?”

Mustafa Shaikh, co-founder of 36 Chambers, Wu-Tang Clan’s vegan fashion and accessory line

Rave Family Block Fest Earns “Fyre Festival” Title On First Day Of Programming (Your EDM)

Overall, the festival overextended itself by leaps and bounds and took way too much under its wings. In pursuit of a larger than life experience, many details were left lacking or completely overlooked, and the users are paying the price. Or not — many have flooded the Discord server with requests for refunds.

Bandsintown + Billboard Touring Indexes Adapt to Chart Livestream Activity (Billboard)

After launching four multi-tiered, transnational touring indexes in 2019, the Bandsintown + Billboard touring indices are adapting to the livestream climate of 2020 by tracking online activity as fans seek out their favorite artists’ digital live performances.

Recovery Economics: Mark Mulligan on the New Starting Line (Music Tectonics)

How have music fans’ need states changed, and how does the industry need to change to meet them? How will live streaming have to mature to become a significant revenue generator? Will the coming recession result in bouncebacks or carve outs? What can music tech companies do now to weather these seismic shifts?

Company Connected to Jay-Z’s Tidal Streaming Service Took Millions in PPP Loans (Variety)

A source told Variety that Tidal and Roc Nation made the March layoffs and furloughs quickly as the crushing impact of the coronavirus brought two of Roc’s primary financial pillars — music touring and sports — to a virtual standstill.

UK COVID-19 VAT break will apply to live music, culture minister confirms (CMU)

The sales tax cut was among a number of new measures announced by Chancellor Rishi Sunak yesterday as part of efforts to help the British economy recover as the COVID-19 shutdown slowly comes to an end. He said that VAT paid on the sale of “hospitality and leisure services” would be reduced from the usual 20% to 5% from next week.

Exit Festival to reduce capacity by 90% amid Serbia virus spike (IQ)

Previously, organisers had planned for the event to go ahead at 50% – equating to some 22,500 daily visitors – announcing a line-up of high-profile acts including Amelie Lens, Nina Kraviz, Robin Schulz, Maceo Plex, Solomun and Denis Sulta.

Can In My Elements, a Contained Dance Festival, Succeed Amidst COVID-19? (Billboard)

The first tests were conducted at mobile, outdoor locations in New York City, Philadelphia and Boston three days before the first day of In My Elements, with results issued within 24 to 48 hours. Given a negative diagnosis, guests were then sent the event address. Upon arrival, they will be guided into a parking lot and remain in their cars, spaced 20 feet apart, to receive a temperature test and final active COVID-19 test.

On yer bike: First bike-in arena launches in Italy (IQ)

Fans will be able to pick their own spot in the Bike-In venue, which is located in Campo Canoa, a green area with a view on a lake, with options for a one-person, one-bicycle space; a bigger space for a family or couples; or a premium spot with a raised platform on which guests can have a pre-show drink or dinner. All spots have their own bike rack, with seating and standing options available.

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U.K. Allows Outdoor Theater and Music Performances From July 11 (Variety)

In a press briefing on Thursday, Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden gave the greenlight for outdoor theater, opera, dance and music shows with socially distanced audiences. 


Thoughts

Heads up: next week MUSIC x CORONA will only be sent out on Monday and Thursday while we enjoy a bit of summer.

  • Exit Festival: I’m glad to hear Exit is further reducing their capacity. While they haven’t spoken out about it directly, because they cannot, they seem to be collateral damage in the Serbian government’s intentional misinforming of the general public in the lead-up to the elections.

    You may have heard about the anti-government protests in Serbia that some media portray as anti-lockdown rioting. What actually lies at the root of it is that the government reported declining cases in the lead up to the elections, with news breaking the day after that infections were actually 3 times higher than previously reported (here’s a primer). It seems like Exit was advised based on this potentially manipulated or at least distorted information.

  • Rave Family / Block Fest: it’s not a big surprise the festival isn’t off to a good start. After researching the festival a bit, it became obvious that stages would have to be hosted over many different servers because each can only hold a max. number of users. The music would be streamed via Mixcloud’s livestreaming feature, so people across various servers can tune in to the same stream and also simply because you can’t stream audio into Minecraft directly.

    In the lead up, ticket buyers were popping onto the festival’s Discord server daily asking for more details, emails with instructions, etc.

    Running a festival with even just the above challenges is difficult. Add on to that hundreds of artists, collectively run stages, not being able to access the festival from console versions of Minecraft, and people being completely new to Minecraft: you better make sure you communicate clearly, effectively, and constantly. And that’s where the festival seems to have failed spectacularly so far.

    (Another early red flag: it’s very silent on the performing artists front. While DJs usually announce virtual performances like this loudly, most haven’t in this case. With what’s known now, I’d assume that has to do with a lack of information, and a lack of trust in the organisation)

    People are still showing up to the Discord and Instagram comments of the festival utterly confused:

    Imagine I just found out Minecraft can’t stream music! This is a total MF rip off. No signage no idea where anyone is playing. No music just some nutter talking to himself.

    Hey guys ... can I restart somehow .. I fell in water .. I’m not a Minecraft guy and I can’t get out

    What's really disappointing is that we basically just stand at the stages looking at empty dj booths, of the ones that are there. Not even anything to actually look at. Some stages are just signs with the headlines names spelt out in blocks, without anything really there. What's actually there to get us engaged?

    It seems like the organizers got carried away with growing the festival and line-up, rather than ensuring a great experience and learning how these things work, what issues people may struggle with, etc. Maybe they were hoping for it to play out like a virtual Woodstock, but with chat disabled and people not able to communicate it’s starting to look more like a Fyre Festival.


MUSIC x CORONA goes out every weekday and is composed by Bas Grasmayer and Maarten Walraven.

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