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Expert Predicts Live Music Won’t Resume Until 2021

The question on everyone’s mind is when life might begin again—one expert posits we might be without live music until next year.


April 16, 2020
Written by
Cynthia Schemmer
Photo by
Emily Quirk

In a foreboding interview last year, Grimes (who currently goes by “c”) stated, “I think live music is going to be obsolete soon.” She went on to say, “Everyone wants to be in a simulation. They don’t actually want the real world. Even if they think they do and everyone’s like, ‘yeah, cool, live music!’ if you actually look at actual numbers of things, everyone’s gravitating towards the shimmery perfected Photoshop world.”

While Grimes may have been referring to the effects of technology on live music, the eerie premonition seems to be our new, unsought dystopia under COVID-19. 

In a New York Times article published last Friday, experts predict that live music won’t return until Fall 2021—at the earliest. Zeke Emanuel, director of the Healthcare Transformation Institute at the University of Pennsylvania and host of the coronavirus podcast “Making the Call,” had this to say:

“Restarting the economy has to be done in stages, and it does have to start with more physical distancing at a work site that allows people who are at lower risk to come back. Certain kinds of construction, or manufacturing or offices, in which you can maintain six-foot distances are more reasonable to start sooner. Larger gatherings — conferences, concerts, sporting events — when people say they’re going to reschedule this conference or graduation event for October 2020, I have no idea how they think that’s a plausible possibility. I think those things will be the last to return. Realistically we’re talking fall 2021 at the earliest.”

Restarting America Means People Will Die. So When Do We Do It?” – The New York Times

On Wednesday, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio both agreed with the prediction, claiming they don’t see large social gatherings resuming in their respective states—the two largest in the country—until 2021. Despite the dangerous and hurried pursuit to reopen the country by President Donald Trump, local governments are pushing back as they realize we still have a long road to recovery and that human lives come before capital gain.

Originally, Emanual was hopeful for a June partial reopening, but due to a lack of and varied enforcement state-to-state, he has since changed his tune:

“I’m not wildly optimistic… We still don’t have a consistent shelter-in-place policy nationally; there are too many exceptions allowed in different states. We haven’t normalized things like wearing masks outside. We need infrastructure for testing in real time, so you don’t get results 5 or 6 or 7 days later. We need real contact tracing that uses technology so that you can do it very rapidly. Getting the ball rolling on this, I’m concerned about.”

Restarting America Means People Will Die. So When Do We Do It?” – The New York Times

In such uncharted and precarious times, there’s no saying what this means for musicians, venues, and other facets of the music industry who rely on live entertainment. There’s so many lingering questions and uncertain answers, so many fears for the future and hopes for a return to normalcy—whatever that may be.

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