No Need To Cancel Shows In The UK: Coronavirus Discussed At ILMC

Discussion Coronavirus (and more) at ILMC
Gideon Gottfried
– Discussion Coronavirus (and more) at ILMC
From left: Pino Sagliocco (Live Nation), Phil Rodriguez (Move Concerts), Emma Banks (CAA), moderator Paul Latham, David Zedeck (UTA) and Ashish Hemrajani (BookMyShow)
The International Live Music Conference (ILMC) kicked off today, March 3, at the Royal Garden Hotel in London, and of course coronavirus was a topic during the Opening Forum.
The panels was composed of Emma Banks (CAA, UK), Ashish Hemrajani (Book My Show, IN), Phil Rodriguez (Move Concerts, Latin America), Pino Sagliocco (Live Nation Spain), David Zedeck (United Talent Agency, US) and moderator and former Live Nation UK president Paul Latham.
The big difference compared to past virus outbreaks was the fact that information was now travelling in real time, Zedeck said. This meant you could react more quickly, but it was also easier for hysteria to spread.
Banks explained that most shows were being cancelled in Asia, which was the most expensive place to tour. She feared that many artists wouldn’t be able to afford the losses. “It’s going to be really costly, everybody’s going to be impacted. It’s going to get tough,” Banks said, pointing out that Italy was the first European market where ticket sales were really “going down the toilet.”
Rodriguez warned a packed room of live professionals not to “commit suicide,” by jumping on the hysteria spread by the media. 
He pointed out the hypocrisy of some professionals, who cancelled their ILMC trip out of fear of the virus, but went on ahead with all of their events. He urged the organizers of SXSW not to “blow it out of proportion” by cancelling the event, following keynote speakers like Twitter’s Jack Dorsey or Podcaster Tim Ferriss pulling out.
And while he was optimistic that the virus wouldn’t have the impact many fear it will, he was worried for his business. “On paper, I could have the best year ahead of me,” he said, adding that it could quickly turn around to become the worst year ever, should the worst-case-scenario of flight and event cancellations manifest. 
His biggest worry was the government side, “someone tagging onto the hysteria to get political points.”
The UK government’s position at the moment is not to cancel any shows. The country’s chief medical advisor, Chris Whitty, told members of the UK Live Music Group earlier this week that there was “no clear rationale” for shutting down events.
The government’s position, however, also points out that changes to this advice could occur at any moment. “Based on the World Health Organization’s declaration that this is a public health emergency of international concern, the UK Chief Medical Officers have raised the risk to the UK from low to moderate,” it states on the government’s website.
The UK government acknowledges in its Coronavirus Action Plan, “as and when the disease moves into different phases, for example if transmission of the virus becomes established in the UK population, the nature and scale of the response will change,” which prompted ILMC head Greg Parmley to ask the panelists if they feared for the upcoming festival season at all.
Nobody seemed to have or want to give an answer to that. Moderator Paul Latham merely joked that people were cautious not to touch anything at festivals always.
Sagliocco said he was fundamentally an optimist, which is why he was sure that the virus would go away shortly. What was more, according to the Live Nation Spain chairman, “artists are conscious they cannot let their fans down.”
Said Banks: “It will pass. We will all be fine. At the moment, we just need to look out for each other,” and she added as a joke: “I’m still not going to shake anybody’s hand.”