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Coronavirus and Pro Audio: Developing News

BOOKMARK THIS PAGE! As the coronavirus pandemic continues, this page will be updated regularly with related pro-audio news.

BOOKMARK THIS PAGE! As the novel coronavirus pandemic continues, this page will be updated regularly with related pro-audio news.

New York, NY (March, 2020) – Evolving quickly from a localized virus in China to a worldwide pandemic, the novel coronavirus has upended every industry around the globe, including pro audio.

MARCH 30 – Pro-AV trade organization AVIXA has cancelled InfoComm 2020, its annual convention, which was set to take place in Las Vegas in June. Nonetheless, the pro audio industry is rising to the challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic, with live sound powerhouse Clair Global helping create temporary disaster relief structures and loudspeaker manufacturer Innovox Audio building face shields for senior living communities in and around the Twin Cities.

MARCH 27 – With audiences stuck at home devouring more content than every before, the pressure is on content creators to meet that demand while stuck at home themselves. We explore that conundrum with Rolling Stone senior writer Brian Hiatt, who hosts the brand’s Rolling Stone Music Now podcast, and look at how self-isolation has changed the show’s production process.

MARCH 26 – With students in self-isolation, pros who teach audio education courses are under the gun to migrate their classes to an online interactive format. AES Nashville members have shared an in-depth ‘how-to’ for audio educators on how to ensure lecture content and interaction with students can be accompanied by high-quality audio playback and real-time demonstration of tools and techniques.

MARCH 25 – The NAB announced the cancelled NAB Show will be replaced by NAB Show Express, a “digital experience,” and an enhanced annual NAB Show New York, which will again be co-located with the AES Convention at the Javits Center in October 2020.

MARCH 24 – NAMM hosted a webinar, COVID-19 Small Business Relief Resources, hosted by on March 24 provided details of the current federal and state relief for businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic. Our summary—and the webinar video itself—can be viewed here.

MARCH 23 – Larry Edgeworth, a 25-year veteran of NBC News who worked out of the network’s Rockefeller Plaza headquarters in Manhattan, died on Thursday, March 19, from complications brought about by the coronavirus.

MARCH 20 – Joe McGrath, a freelance live sound pro in Washington, D.C., unknowingly contracted COVID-19 in late February. After testing positive on March 10, his life turned upside down, but now on the road to recovery after a near-death experience, he shares his story. Others, such as producer Rob Graves, suggest the coronavirus may be an opportunity to change the world for the better.

MARCH 19 – Alive Risk, Clair Global, the Event Safety Alliance, Griffin360, Merch Roadie, Show Makers Symposium and Take1 Insurance have joined together to create the Roadie Rescue Campaign, a GoFundMe campaign that aims to raise $250,000 in donations to provide relief to freelance production pros affected by event cancellations.

MARCH 18 – While widely signed petitions and relief effort announcements are circulating daily, at press time, no clear, sustained approach has emerged yet to concretely address the welfare of the touring industry’s workforce. Stepping up to fill some of that enormous gap is the Recording Academy which, with its MusiCares foundation is establishing the COVID-19 Relief Fund to help U.S. musicians and touring pros whose livelihood has been affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

The pandemic has affected live sound professionals around the globe, of course, and opera star Andrea Bocelli’s longtime FOH engineer, Andrea Bocelli, discussed the situation with Pro Sound News from Firenze, Italy, where the entire country remains under lockdown.

MARCH 17 – As the U.S. live sound industry increasingly hunkers down for a long wait, some are already discussing how emerging guidelines may change the live production industry when the pandemic has subsided. In the meantime, there are different ways live sound pros can approach using their unexpected downtime.

Aiming to protect employees while also helping mitigate the coronavirus’ spread, French loudspeaker manufacturer L-Acoustics has closed nearly all its facilities worldwide.

MARCH 16 – With more European countries going under lockdown over the weekend, and additional U.S. localities enacting measures to help prevent the spread of coronavirus, many live sound pros are unsure as to the next steps to take. In response, some manufacturers like Powersoft are offering online product training classes in an effort to spread the word about their offerings while also providing useful career education opportunities.

Many pro-audio brands use China for a considerable amount of their manufacturing; with that country easing out of the pandemic while others are entering it, the capabilities of some companies to ensure timely delivery of orders is often up in the air. Martin Audio has issued comprehensive statements as to the current state of its existing and planned inventories worldwide.

MARCH 13 – With a national emergency declared in the United States on Friday, March 13, cities and municipalities around the country have enacted prohibitions against large gatherings that could potentially bolster the coronavirus’ spread—moves that have not only closed schools and libraries in many parts of the country, but also caused all major professional and college sports programs to cancel or delay their seasons, theaters and museums to close, and venues of all sizes to shutter or run only if they serve a greatly diminished capacity.

In response, music tours and events at all levels have gone on hiatus, which in turn has brought much of the live sound industry to a halt. What this means for the live sound industry remains to be seen, but with weeks, possibly months of downtime ahead, there are grave concerns about how live sound pros will get by.

With school districts closing worldwide, audio manufacturer Røde has offered to provide up to $2 million AU worth of podcasting equipment to high schools in New South Wales, Australia, affected by sequestering to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

MARCH 12 – Live Nation and AES, among other tour and venue operators, have suspended all tours under their auspices, essentially bringing the live sound industry to a halt. The move comes among a deluge of tour and festival cancellations and postponements in the face of both growing prohibitions on large-scale gatherings and industry concerns. Likewise, major conventions and events across many industries have announced similar fates, inadvertently slamming the event production industry.

Pro audio events aren’t excluded from that fate. Today, Prolight + Sound, one of the foremost AV and pro audio conventions in Europe, cancelled following an initial attempt to reschedule to late May that was met with lukewarm interest from some major exhibitors.

Simultaneously, the annual European edition of the AES Convention, to be held this year in Vienna, suspended registration. While the convention is currently still set to take place in late May, newly enacted restrictions on event sizes would scuttle the event unless they’re lifted by that date.

Back in the United States, Almo Pro has cancelled the Washington, D.C. edition of its E4 Experience conference, originally set for April 3. It cancelled the Santa Clara, CA, edition this past Monday.

MARCH 11The NAB Show has been cancelled with the announcement it will attempt to hold an event or events later in the year, or simply return in 2021.

MARCH 10 – Avid has joined the growing ranks of exhibitors pulling out of the NAB Show, set to take place in Las Vegas April 18–22. Additionally, the company cancelled its own Avid Connect 2020 conference, which was planned to run adjacent to the larger convocation.

MARCH 9 – Out of an abundance of caution, Almo Pro has pulled the plug on the Santa Clara, CA, edition of its E4 Experience conference.

MARCH 4 – Facing mounting impact by the coronavirus, Prolight + Sound, one of the foremost AV and pro audio conventions in Europe announced that PL+S 2020 has been rescheduled to late May.

FEBRUARY 19 – Despite growing concerns about coronavirus, the NAB has announced the NAB Show in Las Vegas is still set for April.

• • •

For audio pros who are now faced with time on their hands, preparing equipment for when the industry goes back to work is a sensible action to take, such as cleaning microphones to prevent further spread of coronavirus.

With the virus spreading, it is imperative to stay healthy! With that in mind, we look back at a key METAlliance column from last fall, where legendary Grammy-winning engineers Al Schmitt, Chuck Ainlay and Elliot Scheiner share how to stay healthy in the studio and still get the job done.