From the Musicians Union:
We advise members to follow the government’s advice and to avoid gatherings and crowded places. If a performance does go ahead, there are some extra safety precautions that should be taken.
Whilst most theatres and larger venues have now closed for the foreseeable future, some grassroots music venues and pubs/bars are still hosting events.
It is likely, however, that all premises will close at some point. Where contracts exist between venues, promoters and artists, these will vary and each booking is different. Please read our advice surrounding contracts affected by Coronavirus.
Many artists have decided to honour their bookings as long as venues are open, and they don’t present with symptoms of Coronavirus.
Whilst this doesn’t heed the government’s advice, it is understandable that freelance artists with bills to pay and families to feed will look to continue to earn whist the engagements are still going ahead.
Re-scheduling your show
In many cases, it may be possible to work with venues to re-schedule shows. Whilst this won’t necessarily mitigate the financial loss of the original booking, it may allow fans to retain original tickets and provide artists with some security going forward.
It’s important to remember that your fans have also been advised to avoid gatherings, so they may feel very conflicted about attending an event that is happening against government advice. Re-scheduling will, in most cases, allow them to choose between receiving a refund and attending a show at a less risky time.
Safety advice for gigs that go ahead
However, for artists who have made the difficult decision to continue with their engagements we would advise the following:
• Stay in regular contact with the venue and follow the regular updates from the government and news sources
• If you feel unwell at any time cancel your performance, even if you are on your way to a show or actually at the venue. The same applies if you have been in contact with someone else who then presents symptoms
• Talk to venue staff about procedures in place to keep backstage, on-stage and out-front areas as clean as possible
• Use and clean your own equipment – particularly microphones- where possible. When using a venue’s equipment, enquire as to how you can best clean it before and after use
• Avoid sharing equipment with other acts, but when it’s necessary ensure it’s cleaned in between sets
• Ensure performance spaces/stages are within a suitable distance from the audience
• Avoid spending longer in a venue than is strictly necessary
• Avoid physical contact with audiences and fans. Consider your approach to:
o Selfies/photographs – encourage photography during your performance instead (assuming the appropriate copyrights are observed)
o Selling merch – use contactless payments and direct people to an online platform
o Taking payment from bookers – where possible ask for electronic payments, as opposed to cash (this may require an agreed change to the contractual payment method)
o Collecting fans’ details for databases – avoid using paper & pen or allowing fans to input details directly to your devices. Ask them to sign up online
It’s also advisable to regularly check the NHS website for information on symptoms and prevention.