Concert promoters conserve finances and sit tight

At the start of 2020, it seemed like the concert scene this year would be as buzzing as it had been in the past few years, with both Western and Asian pop names set to perform to thousands here.

But with the escalation of the coronavirus pandemic, the trickle of concert cancellations and postponement announcements that began in late January soon became a flood that will leave gig venues here silent for months to come.

The first casualty was Hong Kong singer Miriam Yeung’s gig at Singapore Indoor Stadium. The announcement of the postponement was made barely two weeks before it was to take place on Feb 8.

The long list of music events that have since been postponed to the later part of the year include two new major music festivals: Hydeout at The Meadow at Gardens by the Bay and One Love Asia Festival at Bayfront Event Space.

“We have never experienced a standstill in events of this scale. This is now not an Asia-Pacific crisis, it is a worldwide pandemic,” says Ms Lauretta Alabons, co-founder of gig promoter LAMC Productions, which survived the concert downturn brought about by the 2003 Sars crisis.

This year, her company has had to postpone and cancel two legs of its Singapore Rockfest II series of concerts last month that would have featured acts such as popular American metal band Slipknot.

“We are taking this time to connect with venues and suppliers with the hope of life getting back to normal so we can resume with our shows. There are no lay-offs.

“To be honest, we can only sit and wait as the situation keeps changing daily.”

Mr Michael Roche, managing director of Lushington Entertainments, draws a parallel to yet another calamitous period.

“Unfortunately, Sars and the 1997 financial crisis had very similar effects on our business and most of the year’s events in both cases were wiped out.”

The company had to postpone American band Green Day’s sold-out concert at the Singapore Indoor Stadium, which was originally scheduled to take place on March 8. A new date will be announced later.

Lushington is still holding steady, he adds.

“We are just minimising expenses and we all multi-task across different businesses. For Green Day, we are just postponing, so we are carrying over cost to the new budget and it will not be a write-off or big loss.”

Mr Ken Lim, executive director of Hype Records, reckons that the concert industry is only starting to feel the ramifications from the outbreak. “Only promoters or live event organisers that have the financial reserves to sustain themselves will survive.”

His company had to cancel American singer Tori Kelly’s show, which was originally scheduled for April 17 at the Capitol Theatre. But with all future mass gatherings on hold, he estimates that 70 per cent of the company’s total revenue will be affected.

“Nothing will be business as usual. There will be casualties and new players who are able to identify opportunities during this historic chapter.”

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