Jesse Davidson

With the passing of each day in 2021, musicians are chomping at the bit more than ever, for a return to normalcy. 

We collectively watch the vaccine roll-out with baited breath, as if somehow, the antidote for this absurdity of modern life is trapped in a bottle of old molasses. 

The world holds the bottle above a bowl that is our lives. Each month that crawls by, normalcy (whatever that means at this point) rolls a couple centimeters closer to flowing forth. Aside from writing a periodical update on the situation, I can’t keep in tune to music news on a regular basis. Periodically poking my head out from beneath the Earth like a groundhog has been the best course of action.

In the latest emergence to check the live music news cycle, there’s actually glimmers of hope. Given that this crisis is happening on a global scale, the potential solutions and Band-Aids for this problem must also be examined as such. “What’s Luxembourg doing right now?” has never been a question I’ve even thought before. However, it has become a relevant one. 

According to the NME (New Musical Express), five test concerts are set to take place at the Rockhal arena next month. The shows, organized by the Arena Resilience Alliance (ARA), will be limited to 100 people with strict social distancing. 

For perspective, the main hall of the arena holds 6,500 people. This comes after the latest trial from a group called Primavera Sound. They held an event in Barcelona dubbed, “PRIMACOV” and was organized alongside Hospital Germans Trias and the Fight AIDS and Infectious Diseases Foundation.

This festival consisted of 1,000 participants attending a festival held in a 1,600-capacity club. Out of the 1,000, 463 attended the event and 496 were placed in a control group. All participants took a same-day rapid COVID test and eight days later, returned for a follow-up. 

There were no positive results among the attendee group, but there were two in the control group. This is exciting, given how little data there is on this subject. There’s an abundance of research on how COVID can be spread at events. Little has been done to study operating safely in any capacity. A similar study by Live Nation Germany was planned last summer, but was canceled due to rising case numbers.

Along with gathering data, clubs that can afford to, are upgrading their air conditioning and ventilation systems. At the 100 Club in London, the changes to their air system could be an integral solution for clubs around the world. The 350-capacity venue has become a trial for the new Pathogen Reduction System (PRS). 

Designed by British scientists, engineers and entrepreneurs, this system is designed to fit into a club’s existing ventilation system. A high intensity UV light is used to safely “inactivate” 99.9% of airborne pathogens, including COVID-19, among many others. If this trial proves to be a viable solution, this could effectively save venues throughout the UK and the world.

The truly exciting part of this isn’t just the hope for safe solutions during the pandemic. It’s the effort, it’s the mindset that live music is worth finding a solution for. 

Obviously, safety is the primary concern for every individual involved. From the artists and event crew to the attendees, people need to legitimately feel safe and protected. 

As my colleagues and I stare into to another proverbial shoulder shrug for 2021, a full attempt to craft a safe solution with real data/evidence is needed and appreciated. It is projected by Pollstar, that the live music business lost $30 billion of total revenue in 2020. This is juxtaposed with the initial record-breaking projection of $12 billion in box-office sales, alone. Saying it wouldn’t be financially viable to craft a safe solution isn’t factual.

With summer cancellations and postponements beginning yet again, these stories from around the world prove once again, that we need everyone. What happens on the other side of the globe can affect everyone in this instance. Things are a little brighter and that’s enough for now. 

We need to take one day at a time. Hopefully, the world will look even brighter when the groundhog emerges from the Earth to survey his surroundings yet again. Early spring or a longer, bleaker winter has yet to be determined.

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