Music industry launches COVID-19 bubble idea as major festivals are canceled for second year in a row

Live musicians fed up with the uncertainty of border closures, venue restrictions and canceled festivals say the industry should explore an NRL-style COVID-19 bubble.

But industry heavyweights say the NRL situation is different and instead come up with an idea for a vaccine passport.

The Gympie Music Muster had to cancel for the second year in a row as interstate borders were closed amid the growing crisis in Sydney.

North Queensland’s Groovin The Moo has been canceled twice, Woodford Folk Festival hosted a scaled-down event in December, Byron Bay Bluesfest warns ticket holders to be prepared for bad news and Splendor in the Grass was postponed to November.

“It’s crippling for newcomers and mid-level artists who are just a few years into their careers,” said industry veteran Graeme Connors.

“These are the times you need to get out on the road to create a direct line of contact between you and your audience.

Queensland country music legend Graeme Connors was scheduled to perform the Gympie Music Muster before it was canceled earlier this year.(

Provided: Graeme Connors


William Barton of the Australian Festival of Chamber Music wants the same for artists.

“We are ready to do it as the sports teams are also ready to do it,” he said.

“There are millions and millions of dollars lost because of the lockdowns”

A man plays the didgeridoo with an orchestra.
William Barton, seen here playing with the Queensland Symphony Orchestra, supports the idea of ​​the bubble.(

Provided: Peter Wallis


Why not create a bubble?

Officially, nothing prevents the music industry from copying the NRL playbook, but the logistics are devilish.

Everyone in the bubble should be accommodated in quarantine-style rooms, staff should be fully immunized, and security provided around the clock.

QMusic chief Kris Stewart said the NRL solution was not going to save the Queensland music scene.

A smiling man outside a large theater.
Kris Stewart says a bubble might work in some situations, but wouldn’t be a silver bullet for the industry.(

ABC News: Tim Swanston


“A team of 30 can be in a hotel for a few months and that actually solves most of the problems with the NRL,” he said.

“What we need to do is make it easier for musicians to cross borders, we need to find ways for people to fly to do concerts inside Queensland, but also for musicians from Queensland may enter other states. “

Mr Stewart said an in, out or “vaccine passport” solution might be the answer.

It would depend on full vaccination of all performers and crews and permission to cross state borders.

Two seated girls ride on the shoulders of people in a crowd at a concert.
The Gympie Music Muster has been canceled twice since the start of the pandemic.(

Provided: Leeroy Todd



Mr Stewart said the bubble idea could be an option for major music festivals.

The boss of QMusic said he has also had discussions about the main tour bubbles, where a large group of travelers and their crew arrive in Australia or from the highway and all are contained in a bus or in their rooms. ‘hotel.

“The idea of ​​going to a regional location and waiting a few weeks before you come back to Queensland or a capital – I think there are ways to go for that,” he said.

Big made-up letters that spell each other "Woodfordia" standing on a hill in low light.
The Woodford Folk Festival 2020, which takes place during the New Years period, was canceled last year.(



“Happy to consider”

Queensland Health said in a statement that it had not received any requests for any sort of live music bubble, but was open to the idea.

“The bubbles must meet strict health and safety requirements and are subject to strict compliance, testing and monitoring to ensure they do not endanger the people of Queensland,” the statement said. .

“If the live music industry provides a detailed proposal, the Queensland government would be happy to consider it.”

Arts Minister Leanne Enoch also said there was $ 79.3 million in support available, including a $ 7 million boost to the Live Music Support program.

justice for all

Mr Stewart said comparisons between live music and the NRL bothered him less than seeing concerts canceled while people could still shop or visit the casino.

“I don’t understand what the difference is between that and Fortitude [Music] Hall is, ”he said.

“The music industry doesn’t always consist of tens of thousands of sweaty people moshing in a mosh pit – probably hasn’t been since the ’90s.

“Most of these sites are incredibly well managed.

“The fact that they’re not so lucky, I think, is bad for audiences, it’s bad for venues and certainly bad for musicians.”

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