Aussie acts heading to SXSW while Facebook, Twitter & Vevo abstain
The film, music and tech mega-event takes place in Austin, Texas between March 13-22.
“After careful consideration of all known and unknowns regarding the coronavirus, Vevo has decided to cancel its annual SXSW event this year,” said Vevo in a statement.
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey pulled out as Featured Speaker and stopped his staff from attending as part of the company’s overall ban on non-essential travel.
“This policy is effective immediately and will continue until the World Health Organization or Centers for Disease Control deem it appropriate to step back from pandemic precautionary measures or when a vaccine becomes available,” he said.
In a statement, Facebook said; “Due to concerns related to coronavirus, our company and employees will not be participating in SXSW this year.”
China Gathering, an umbrella group of Chinese entrepreneurs, earlier pulled out of the conference, trade show and showcase.
The country had intended to create an impact at the Texan meet, to the point of setting up a business hub called China House, similar to the successful Australia House.
Speculation is that Chinese app TikTok is also thinking of withdrawing.
G’Day USA’s Australia House, on Rainey Street, is still advertising its program of 40 music showcases and 25 events and activations, showcasing Australian trade, investment and tourism.
Australia House at SXSW
It is not known if any registered Australian participants have pulled out, and so far none of the Australian acts have pulled their own showcases.
Among those scheduled to play are Baker Boy, Mo’Ju, Jack River, Electric Fields, Didirri, Cable Ties, Alex The Astronaut, Alice Sky, Carla Geneve, Hachiku, The Lazy Eyes, Ruby Boots, San Mei, Evelyn Ida Morris, A Swayze And The Ghosts, Sui Zhen, Cousin Tony’s Brand New Firebird, RVG and Kota Banks.
Many are also playing other shows in the US to coincide, and it would be too costly to withdraw.
Others have set up essential meetings with booking agents, festival promoters and record labels they are reluctant to cancel.
“Travel insurance doesn’t cover cancellation due to the coronavirus unless the airline or hotel releases a specific policy where they will refund you,” a travel agent told TMN.
A number of artist managers contacted by TMN declined to comment on what health measures they would employ when in Austin.
SXSW announced it is providing disinfectant wipes and spray, hand sanitizer for common area spaces and activity spaces.
Microphones will be wiped down, and disease prevention literature available in all meeting spaces, venues and Austin-area hotels.
This week, a Change.org petition drew over 37,000 signatures demanding that SXSW cancel as it was “irresponsible amid an outbreak” to continue with an event that drew 70,000.
After discussions with the Austin Public Health (which has the authority to close it down), SXSW is going ahead with its meet, this week adding more speakers including Hilary Clinton, Pharrell Williams and Sony/ATV publishing chief Jon Platt.
The festival had an economic impact of $355 million in 2019.
SXSW argues that only 19,000 of the 70,000 come from outside the US; very few from China, South Korea, and Italy where the virus has had the greatest impact; and “cancellations are on par, or down, from past years.”
The first international cancellation in Australia due to coronavirus concerns came this week when Italian goth metal band Lacuna Coil pulled out of its Download slot and headliner dates, as well as a visit through Asia.
Earlier, Ruel postponed his visit to Asia from late February to September.
Australian productions of The Lion King, Come From Away and Matilda are either delaying their Chinese seasons or finding that the venues they’re booked into have closed indefinitely.
The Auckland Arts Festival had to can its flagship outdoor aerial Place des Agnes show because global reduced air cargo space, cancelled flights and skyrocketing prices meant equipment for the performance couldn’t reach it.
More than 20,000 music events in China and Hong Kong between January and March have been cancelled or postponed.
Among them were Stormzy, Khalid, New Order, BTS, Green Day, Jimmy Eat World and Avril Lavigne.
The debut of EDM festival Ultra Abu Dhabi (March 5—8) was axed, as part of a series of no-shows through the Middle East.
Italy’s live sector has collapsed, said industry organisation Assomusica which put the financial loss so far at €10.5 million (A$17.79 million).
Switzerland suspended events, with Santana and Alice Cooper among 1,000 participants affected.
As the outbreak created financial markets volatility, Warner Music Group has delayed its IPO as the current situation would make it difficult for underwriters to find steady demand for shares, Music Week reported.
The world’s largest promoter, Live Nation, saw its share price fall from an all-time high of $76.08 on February 21 to its present $57,96.