Coronavirus may lead to smaller concerts over multiple nights: Chugg Entertainment head

Michael Chugg has also commented on Splendour in the Grass' "ambitious" move to to October

Chugg Entertainment head Michael Chugg has weighed in on the coronavirus pandemic’s impact on the live entertainment sector, speaking to Tom Tilley on his podcast The Briefing.

In the episode, shared today (May 6), Chugg said the consequences of the pandemic have been unprecedented, and he’s never seen anything like it during his multiple decades in the industry.

“There’s never been anything even remotely close to this. We’ve had pub laws change and the lockouts in New South Wales and all that, but nothing like this ever,” he told Tilley and co-host Annika Smethurst.

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Chugg Entertainment has been forced to postpone, cancel or reschedule many of its upcoming tours, including Tame Impala, Clairo and City and Colour. As venues gradually reopen their doors, Chugg believes concerts in major venues may be spread over the course of multiple nights in order to limit the number of people in a room at a time.

“I can see eight nights of 500 people a night at the Metro [Theatre in Sydney]. I think we’re just gonna have to do whatever we’re told and get on with it,” he said.

“I don’t think the live music scene is going to come back like it was very quickly. When it does start to come back, I think you’ll find Australian music is probably going to mean more than it has ever meant in the history of Australian music.”

The hosts also raised the topic of Splendour in the Grass, which has rescheduled its July festival to October. Chugg described the new date as “ambitious”.

He said, “It’s a punt. They’re taking a punt. I don’t want to be negative towards Splendour or any of the festivals… but I think October’s very ambitious.”

Still, Chugg points to Taiwan and South Korea’s methods of temperature screening to deal with COVID-19 and opposed the suggestion that festivals won’t be permitted to return “in the foreseeable future”. Instead, Chugg said they could be given the green light “if they do the testing right” and implement the current social distancing measures.

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The podcast also heard from Dave Hosking of Boy & Bear, who were forced to push back their tour to due restrictions on public gatherings.

“This was gonna be our kind of first major big Australia tour since releasing that music. It sucks, really,” the frontman said. “We were looking forward to playing new music. Touring’s also our bread and butter and it’s what keeps food on the table for us.”

Hear the full episode of The Briefing here.

Boy & Bear
Boy & Bear CREDIT: Daniel Boud

Chugg’s comments come the day Falls Festival announced that its 2020/2021 edition will go ahead with an all-Australian lineup.

Back in March, Chugg Entertainment was one of four Australian touring companies that sent a joint letter to the Morrison Government asking for a $650million stimulus package to provide relief to small businesses and contractors in the live entertainment sector.

“As industry leaders, we want to ensure the survival of the many small and medium-sized businesses that support our industry so that we can continue to make a significant contribution to the Australian economy when we eventually emerge from this crisis,” the letter read.

“In addition to the many small businesses we rely on to run our events, there are thousands of sole traders, from tour managers and production managers to drivers, who completely rely on us for a regular income.”

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