• Nikos Papanikolaou

Negative tests and masks could be the new reality of the live music industry

Credits: Ben Bentley

Many countries are currently testing ways to allow live performances – indoor and outdoor – in the post-pandemic era. Unfortunately, people who work in the arts industry have taken a massive blow during the past year. From musicians to actors and from ushers to bartenders, many still doubt the future and how this will be.

By Nikos Papanikolaou

According to a report by UK Music – an umbrella organisation that represents the collective interests of the UK’s world-leading music industry – the live sector made £1.3 billion of the UK’s £5.8 billion music industry in 2019, while music tourism contributed £4.7 billion to the UK economy during the same year. So even if the concert-goers are not keen on watching a concert while wearing a mask or remaining seated, it could be a part of the new live event reality until the virus is well under control.

“I’m not sure how can I enjoy a concert with a mask. I’m pro-mask, don’t get me wrong, but I prefer to wait until it’s safe to go to a concert like before instead of going now. But I’m happy to see things moving,” said Kate Bellingham, 26, a freelance graphic designer in London.

Even though tours are still postponed or cancelled, it is still quite unclear how the concert can take place, especially in indoor venues. So, for now, the main focus is on how live performances can happen again at capacity – either is full or not. The parts involved are working hard to find ways to manage the health risk by testing different measures to reduce the risk of transmission and operate in a financially viable way.

Last week, in Liverpool, a crowd of 5,000 attended a concert headlined by Blossoms, without having to wear a mask or social distance. However, all attendees had to present a negative COVID test before their entrance. They were also asked to have another test after the concert and to provide details to the NHS in case of someone attended tests positive.

“I was so jealous to see all these people having a blast without masks or social distancing. One of the main reasons I had the jab is to be safe to go to concerts again. I’m happy to present a negative test or show a vaccination proof if that will get me in,” said Juan Riquiardo, 32, a coffee maker in London.

Liverpool’s experiment is a start, but it is still quite unclear how the future will be. Until then, jobs and venues remain at risk.