The Show Might Go On?: The Music Industry and KURE’s response to COVID-19

By Jessica Spottek

The news all over the world is pretty intimidating right now, and most of us have been worried out of our minds about if we catch the coronavirus. COVID-19 is very serious and detrimental to most of our lives. For one, Italians, Chinese, and many other nationalities have been quarantined in their own homes for at least 14 days. On the other hand, many college students like myself are still planning on traveling to their spring break destinations. However, the music industry has been rapidly changing in terms of tours and gigs across the world. My email has been blowing up (literally) with cancellations and postpone announcements from artists and bands. It’s crazy to think that this is happening, but us music fans need to stay happy and healthy.

According to Pitchfork, there are many factors that go into canceling something so large such as a tour or music festival. One of the first festivals that canceled this year was South by Southwest (SXSW) in Austin, Texas. One of the oldest and most popular festivals in the country, SXSW fans were devastated when finding out that the festival was cancelled. One of my friends at 91.7 WSUM was given press for SXSW and isn’t able to attend anymore. Other festivals such as Coachella and BUKU are also postponed due to the coronavirus. As Pitchfork explains, things such as cancellation insurance and refunds for fans are large factors that come into play when something so serious comes about. Reimbursements and refunds are a huge portion of fans not attending festivals anymore. Ticketmaster and other event sales companies now offer insurance on tickets in case cancellations rise. With something so serious like COVID-19, fans are becoming furious with companies over refunds.

Image result for sxsw music festival
SXSW in Austin, Texas

The music industry has also become stressed about the virus cancelling shows across the world. Promotion and record labels haven’t been spitting bars, but definitely spitting emails about postponed and cancelled tours. This results in A LOT of money out the window from fans that attend these concerts. Tours and gigs are one of the biggest ways that artists and labels promote themselves and make their money! We’ve seen almost every other post on social media of artists with long paragraphs saying how sorry they are for cancelling shows across the world. It’s upsetting for fans, but it’s something that has to be done. Let’s just remember that artists aren’t just cancelling because someone in the band is sick or injured (hopefully not with corona), but rather a global pandemic. Whether it’s a small underground music venue or a large arena or stadium, cancelling concerts could be a key factor from spreading germs and the virus. Even the artists themselves can reduce their human and fan interaction by postponing their shows. I mean, have you ever been so excited about your favorite band putting their arm around you for a picture?!

My thoughts about it? Yes, it’s upsetting. As a music director, concerts and festivals are also another big way that KURE and other radio stations promote ourselves. Obviously we aren’t doing this for money, but as a young adult, we love any opportunity we can get for a free show! It’s a privilege to be working with marketing and public relation coordinators for shows and festivals, but it also comes at a cost. Here at KURE, we’ve had to cancel our DJ sets until we believe it’s safe. Every one of our DJs use their hands and mouth to give you their best music by talking into the mic and using the board to make their sets sound great. Some shows also have been cancelled in Des Moines, Iowa City, and across the midwest. As a result, fans and college radio stations are unable to attend and connect with our favorite artists. However, if this is one of the keys to ending quarantines and coronavirus, it is the safest and healthiest way to do so. Postpones are something that people like me are both happy and anxious for. At least artists are rescheduling their shows instead of just plain ending them. However, the rescheduled dates are also out of our control. Thus, we might not be able to attend anymore. This also circles back to getting refunds from companies for shows that we are now unable to attend.

I might be writing this because in the past week, I now am not going to see Pearl Jam in St.Louis or attending BUKU in New Orleans (we’re not going to talk about how much Jessica spent on these events…let’s just assume a lot). However, it is with respect and a safe mindset that we don’t attend. However, I still encourage music fans to participate in purchasing artist merchandise and music during this nerve wracking time. Bands are losing money with no shows, but show much appreciation when fans buy shirts and albums. As every other health expert, I also encourage you to stay healthy and safe. Here are some friendly reminders:

  • Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap. If you are unable to use a sink and soap, please use hand sanitizer as much as possible.
  • Prevent yourself from touching as many public areas as possible. At Iowa State, this might include poles/handles on CyRide, door knobs, and public restrooms. If you need to, be sure to wipe and sanitize these areas.
  • Reduce the amount of large social contact you make with others. If you see someone that is sick in public, avoid contact with them. 
  • Stay up to date with the CDC and health organizations about coronavirus statistics. This is the best way to see how infected your cities and hometowns are.
Image result for how to wash your hands cdc
Info about washing your hands from the CDC

COVID-19 is serious, and we need to take necessary precautions. But life will still go on…at some point. We need to find a KURE (sorry, I had to do it to ‘em) to the virus, and do anything in our control to prevent it from spreading. If cancelling some of the country’s biggest music festivals and tours, then let’s do it. Let’s keep an open and positive attitude towards these rapidly changing events, and also keep tuning in to 88.5 KURE: Ames Alternative. Don’t worry, Otto is working 24/7 to give you some great content!

About the author