Industry executives in Asia are sceptical about what’s in store for 2022, warning that the ‘groundhog day’ caused by enduring restrictions could long continue.
Speaking in the new issue of IQ, Michael Hosking of Midas Promotions – a leading promoter in South East Asia – has predicted “another fruitless first three quarters in Asia”.
“But I’m hoping that we can have some shows in the final quarter of 2022… as long as we don’t get hit by the variant,” adds Hosking.
Justin Sweeting, co-founder of Hong Kong’s biggest music festival Clockenflap, shared a similar outlook on the year ahead.
“Stop. Start. Stop. Start. The stuttering groundhog day roundabout continues. I just hope we can get the proper opportunity to show that not only can events take place, in many senses, they’re actually the safest places to be in the city with testing and precautions in place,” he says.
Clockenflap Music and Arts Festival last took place in 2018, with the final pre-coronavirus edition (2019) cancelled at the last minute due to pro-democracy protests in the former British territory, which has been a special administrative region of communist China since 1997.
The 2020 and 2021 editions were both cancelled due to strict restrictions on large-scale outdoor events.
“I’M GUESSING IT WILL BE FIVE OR SIX YEARS BEFORE ATTENDING TWO CONCERTS A MONTH WILL BE BACK ON THE AGENDA FOR MOST PEOPLE”
In the absence of the flagship festival, the Clockenflap Presents team organised a one-day festival, Long Time No See, last August in Mongkok.
Sweeting says that returning to live was his biggest highlight of 2021: “Seeing what live returns can look like in real life and that it is possible to hold events, both large and small, within a pandemic if the suitable precautions and steps are taken.”
He hastens to point out that one of the biggest challenges the market currently faces is navigating the patchwork of restrictions and requirements across the region.
“If an artist is up for spending quarantine time, there’s a captured market available! Otherwise, a challenge we face across Asia as a region is that different countries are opening up at different times and rates with different requirements,” he explains.
With that in mind, Hosking says it could take half a decade for the industry to return to 2019 levels of activity.
“I’m guessing that following the ‘dead cat bounce’ it will be five or six years before attending two concerts a month will be back on the agenda for most people – especially those who’ve not earned and saved on full salaries these past two years. I hope I’m WRONG!” he says.
“The pandemic is both dynamic and endemic and so isn’t going to just disappear any time,” adds Sweeting.
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