Could the coronavirus outbreak affect music conferences?


Mobile industry conference Mobile World Congress is huge: according to the Guardian, it now attracts more than 100,000 delegates to Barcelona, and is worth around €500m to the city every year. So the news that this year’s event has been cancelled less than a fortnight before it was due to kick off is big news, if not surprising. A host of big firms had pulled out, including Facebook, Ericsson, Intel, Amazon, Nokia, Cisco, Vodafone and Deutsche Telekom, citing concerns about the current coronavirus outbreak.

With the trickle of pullouts becoming a flood, MWC’s organiser the GSMA bowed to the inevitable and cancelled the event, adding in a statement that “our sympathies at this time are with those affected in China, and all around the world”.

Why is Music Ally writing about this? Well, it’s not scaremongering to wonder whether other conferences attracting delegates from across the world, including countries (not just China) affected by the outbreak, might be starting to worry too.

Midem in June for example, which already has a message on its Practical Information webpage saying “In light of the recent coronavirus outbreak in mainland China, we are monitoring developments closely with the latest guidance from local and national authorities and the World Health Organization (WHO) as it relates to travel to, and participation in, our events”. March’s SXSW too: “The SXSW 2020 event is proceeding as planned. We will continue to monitor the situation closely and will provide updates as necessary,” is that event’s current stance.

Stuart Dredge

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