Austin City Limits sold out in record time | The US Government’s COVID relief bill still hasn’t delivered | The UK gets ready to rock during ERP phase 2

Austin City Limits sold out in record time

The Austin City Limits Music Festival is a mash of music, food and art that takes place in Zilker Park in Austin, TX over two weekends in early October. This year’s artist lineup includes a wide range of performers from George Straight to Billie Eilish and Rufus Du Sol to Jon Pardi. Weekend One of the 20th anniversary of the festival will kick off on October 1st and Weekend Two will run on the 8th through the 10th.

When all was said and done, it took less than 5 hours to sell out the 450,000 (give or take) person festival. Three-day tickets for both weekends were available for purchase beginning at noon local time on May 20th but Weekend One tickets sold out one hour later and Weekend Two tickets followed suit less than two hours after that. Single day tickets went on sale Tuesday at 12 PM and by 1:35 PM, they were gone. Tickets are available for resale with a significant markup (between 250% and 900% 👀).

C3 Presents, the ACL festival organizers, have not indicated any specific safety measures, only that “current recommendations and guidelines in place at the time of the festival” will be followed alongside a plea to attendees to “Help keep each other healthy.” The City of Austin has been relatively conservative when it comes to COVID requirements despite being located in one of the first states to reopen without restrictions. The organizers and the City of Austin are both keeping a close eye on the evolving situation but it’s too soon to announce what will or won’t be required. It has been confirmed by the City of Austin’s Center for Events that event organizers will not be required to request proof of vaccinations though festival goers are encouraged to get their shots. Ticket holders will be notified about safety measures as the festival dates approach.

The US Government’s COVID relief bill still hasn’t delivered

While recent weeks have held nothing but good news for the likes of the Lollapaloozas and the Austin City Limits, independent venues in the US have not had quite the same return to live experience. Live entertainment is reemerging around the world but many venues (and not just those in the US) are still in jeopardy of not being able to reopen. The US Government passed a $16 billion Covid-19 relief bill over 5 months ago but there’s still no word on when those funds will be released or even if applications have been approved.

"Sorry we're closed" sign in venue window

With the slow rollout and the hiccups with the portal, many indie venues that applied for the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant ran out of cash long before applications opened. Without two pennies to rub together let alone enough to book talent, restock bars and rehire staff, it’s impossible to get back on their feet. Implementing necessary ventilation upgrades and increased hygiene protocols in order to keep patrons safe takes it to a whole other level. Considering these venues don’t know when (or if) they’ll be receiving any support, making the required investments to reopen simply isn’t feasible. It’s no longer a question of when they’ll be able to reopen as many cities and states across the country have begun loosening restrictions; it’s now a matter of if the funding will arrive in time.

Without the money to start booking shows, the problem of talent availability will be the next to arise. Larger companies that aren’t reliant on the SVOG grant have the opportunity to secure talent now and that may not leave much room in touring schedules for stops at independents in less mainstream markets. Grassroots venues are a crucial part of their communities, culturally and economically, and without them, the world of music will be changed forever.

The UK gets ready to rock during ERP phase 2

The UK is moving into Phase 2 of the Events Research Programme with a 10,000 person, 3-day festival. Download Festival announced this year’s cancellation in March, but tickets for the newly coined Download Pilot will be up for grabs on June 1st. Attendees will be required to camp onsite for the duration of the festival which will take place from June 18th through the 20th in Donington Park. There will be no social distancing or masks required but other measures will be in place, such as PCR tests required before and after the festival. Festival Republic, the organizers of the festival, are also requiring a negative lateral flow test to gain entry to the grounds. Additionally, everything will be cashless to minimize contact between staff and attendees.

Download music festival

Phase 1 of the ERP was a series of in-person events that took place from April 16th until May 15th. Of the 60,000 people who attended the various events, including a music festival, a rave, a business event, a few football matches and an outdoor cinema, only 15 cases of the virus cropped up throughout the trials. The second phase of the ERP is intended to be another step to pave the way for the return of mass gatherings. Rock on!