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Ticketing and entertainment firms form task force as coronavirus impact widens

Some of the biggest firms in the live industry have come together to form a task force to address the coronavirus pandemic and “drive strategic support and unified direction.”

Live Nation, AEG, CAA, WME, Paradigm and UTA have collectively announced that they are suspending tours for the rest of March.

“The world’s leading forces in live entertainment have come together to form a global task force to drive strategic support and unified direction ensuring precautionary efforts and ongoing protocol are in the best interest of artists, fans, staff, and the global community,” a joint statement read.

“At this time, we collectively recommend large scale events through the end of March be postponed. We continue to support that small scale events follow guidance set by their local government officials. We feel fortunate to have the flexibility to reschedule concerts, festivals, and live events as needed, and look forward to connecting fans with all their favourite artists and live entertainment soon.”

The task force includes Michael Rapino (CEO and President, Live Nation Entertainment), Dan Beckerman (President and CEO, AEG & Board Member, ASM Global), Jay Marciano (Chairman and CEO, AEG Presents), Rob Light (Managing Partner and Head of the Music Division, CAA), Marc Geiger (Partner and Head of Music, WME), Sam Gores (Chairman, Paradigm), Marty Diamond (Head of Global Music, Paradigm), and David Zedeck (Global Head Of Music, UTA).

Elsewhere, the live entertainment industry in the UK has welcomed measures announced by the new majority government to help deal with the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Rishi Sunak, the UK’s recently installed Chancellor, said during his Budget statement that small companies, with a rateable value under £51,000, will not have to pay any business rates for the next year. This would have a significant beneficial impact on small music venues, which would save an average of £25,000 per year on the relief scheme.

Welcoming the measure, the Music Venue Trust said that “the announcement of a 100% cut to business rates for venues with a rateable value under £51,000 for 2020/21 is a very sensible step to protect this vulnerable sector during this current crisis”.

Ticketing companies have also begun handling refunds and alternative offerings for fans during a time that events are being cancelled and people are being told to avoid crowds.

UK-based festival packages firm Festicket has launched a ‘FlexTicket,’ which offers music fans a bespoke flexible cancellation period.

The initiative gives all customers the flexibility to cancel both ticket and package orders under any circumstances on partnered events. New bookings made up until April 30 will be valid for the flexible cancellation policy.

“This is a difficult time for people, communities and businesses all over the world,” said Zack Sabban, Festicket founder and chief executive. “As uncertainty continues to grow, we wanted to find a way to ease these feelings amongst our fans and the wider festival going community. We hope the FlexTicket policy will give festival-goers the confidence and peace of mind to continue about their lives, planning the types of experiences they look forward to this summer.”

Meanwhile, Glastonbury festival, which is now attended by around 200,000 people, has not yet announced its cancellation amid rising concerns of the rapid spread of coronavirus.

Organiser Emily Eavis said: “As things stand we are still working hard to deliver our 50th anniversary Festival in June and we are very proud of the bill that we have put together over the last year or so.”

The festival organisers said that in the event that Glastonbury is postponed to later in the year, but fans can’t make the rescheduled dates, they will receive a refund.

Other ticketing firms, such as resale company StubHub, have unveiled their refunds policies as more and more events are cancelled or postponed. The Viagogo-owned secondary market said its policy is to provide a full refund with fees if an event is cancelled.

It has also released an option to allow customer to opt to receive a StubHub coupon valued at 120% of the original purchase. This coupon can be applied toward a future event of their choosing.

Broadway, New York’s theatre district, has revealed a month-long shut down of productions due to coronavirus.

Telecharge, the service that bills itself as the official ticketing site for Broadway and Off Broadway, has announced that it will automatically refund tickets purchased for performances between today and April 12.

Ticketmaster also said that some Broadway shows will be automatically be cancelled and refunded, if they were bought over the phone or online.

TodayTix said it offer vouchers to customers whose tickets have been cancelled due to the Broadway shutdown. The vouchers will be worth 110% of each customer’s original order total and will be valid for one year. They will be distributed to consumers automatically via email within seven to 10 days.

The cinema industry has also taken a hit after Disney was forced to postpone Mulan’s release in China where 70,000 theatres have been shut. The news comes during a year that had been predicted to see China surpass the US box office.

The new James Bond film No Time to Die, which was supposed to be released in April, was the first major release to be delayed. Other US delays include F9.