As the COVID-19 pandemic wears on, the impact of not being able to gather for live musical events intensifies. The music community is responding on many different levels. Media outlets are covering the impact on musicians, from independent artists to symphonies. Musicians, performance venues, and audiences desperate for any version of “live” music are getting very creative via internet live streams, although the revenue (and emotional impact) generated by these viewings nowhere near approaches in-person events. Spotify has created a relief fund for its artists, and the Recording Academy® and their affiliated charitable foundation MusiCares® have established the COVID-19 Relief Fund those in the music community affected by the Coronavirus pandemic. But some behind-the-scenes aspects of the music industry are getting a little less coverage: what about the artist management and tour companies that bring musicians to your local stage?
Curious about what happens to large European tours in the age of COVID-19, Cornell Concert Series (CCS) reached out to Kerby Lovallo, from New World Classics whose firm tours groups from the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir and the St. Thomas Choir of Leipzig to the Mozarteumorchester Salzburg and the Zoppé Italian Family Circus.
CCS: The entertainment landscape has been so broadly impacted. How has COVID-19 effected your work as an agent?
Lovallo: On the personal level I’ve been a little less affected by the pandemic than some, as I work from home, and live by myself. Over the years I’ve created a schedule for myself that keeps me on track, and know that now & then I have to reach out to people during the day for social reasons. To some extent I’ve been lucky in this way.
CCS: That’s very lucky! What about your artists, so many of whom are based in Europe?
Lovallo: As you know, I work with larger touring groups, and their tours are concentrated and last typically about 2 weeks. For better or worse I don’t have any touring right now – so I’ve yet to feel the economic effect. Soon that will change, as the Zoppé circus should be busy in the late spring and summer. Dates are being postponed and likely some will be lost. If this lasts through the summer, then my losses will be in the tens of thousands. I expect that cramming people into a tent will be just about the last thing that will be encouraged.
CCS: People will probably be quite cautious of mass gatherings for some time. Any ideas about the longer term time tables or effects?
Lovallo: The effect of the crisis on future bookings is hard to gauge, but I expect that artists booked for the next 6 months or so will have those dates shifted to a later time, which will in turn make bookings for other artists delayed, or simply not happen. So there will be a ripple effect for years to come on this.
As to larger societal issues, well, for sure everyone will more greatly value the feeling and need for connection that the performing arts bring. This inability to gather is just so anti-human. After the crisis has passed, I expect that there will be an explosion in attendance at all sorts of events, and that may bring a bit of a lasting glow to it.