The recent developments around the coronavirus has impacted several aspects of the music industry, most recently the cancellation of SXSW and now the postponement of Coachella. It is still very difficult to know what the consequences will be on a wider scale, especially since each case will be different from the other. In the meantime, there are some key points to take into consideration:
There is still a lot of speculation around insurance and what cancelling events actually mean. MMF members and associates have provided insights into the current situation. In addition, we always recommend you speak with your respective broker/lawyer/accountant to make sure you are aware of what your individual situation is. Below are some common cancellation scenarios.
Insurance companies made a specific exclusion of the coronavirus from around February 1st this year, but in any case most insurance companies have had an exception in place for the last 15 years concerning ‘Communicable Diseases’ where they won’t pay out unless a member of the band is actually ill due to the communicable disease. It hasn’t been tested in recent weeks (as far as we know), but if insurance was taken out prior to Feb 1st it is worth pursuing. Some policies specifically exclude historic diseases such as SARS, Bird Flu and Swine Flu. Check your policy. If you took out insurance before 1st of February it would be worth pursuing. Note that the WHO has confirmed that coronavirus is actually a strain of SARS.
We are aware that some managers/acts had SXSW scheduled as a part of a tour or have decided to go despite the cancellation of the event. Currently there is no travel ban into the US or Austin, which means that it is still technically possible to go ahead with any plans to fulfil tours unless it has been cancelled by promoter/other party – as described above. If you want to reschedule the dates of the tour however, you will need to file for a new petition in order to get a new visa.
To see a detailed Q&A by Matthew Covey from Tamizdat please visit their website here.
If you/your act has the correct work permit (such as P or O visa) and decide to go, please be aware that other complications can occur such as cancelled flights or borders being shut. This would mean that there is a risk of being stranded in the US whilst paying out of your own pocket, especially if areas are put under quarantine which some insurance policies do not cover. As a manager you have a duty of care to ensure that any decision made by your artists to travel is based on reason and awareness of the risks (especially if they are a minor). The international showcase fund partners are strongly advising against travel to Austin for their grantees.
Please check with your funder. PRS Foundation has published their latest advice for grantees including FAQs and important information here and are responding on a case by case basis. We are in discussion with PRS Foundation regularly, please feel free to share any experiences of this process with us.
Keep a close eye on Foreign office travel advice and national government decisions on mass gatherings, more info here. So far Italy has put large areas under quarantine, and France has banned mass gatherings over 1000 people and Germany and Romania look poised to do the same. IQ magazine is closely covering developments, see more here.
If you are an employer please be aware of this gov.uk guide for employers and businesses.