How can music venues, nightclubs and parties open their doors with any sort of social distancing rules in place?

For some of us it may conjure up a sense of nostalgia, for others it was the reality of every weekend up until a few months ago. Either way, most of us have been there; surrounded by friends, music pulsing through our body, drink in hand … only to emerge in the early hours relieved for some fresh air and on the search for food or a taxi home. 

group-of-people-sitting-on-chair-in-dimmed-room-1481276.jpg

During your evening it’s unlikely you spent much of your time worried about social distancing… if so, you probably wouldn’t have gone to a music venue in the first place, and definitely wouldn’t be going again!

This begs the question… how will music venues operate in a world of social distancing and Covid secure regulations?

The Event Creators Collective spoke to two music promoters who are asking themselves what a Covid secure reopening looks like and for now at least, it seems like for them the answer could be quite binary: either social distancing is in place and we’re closed, or it’s not and we can open again.

The issue is three fold for these types of venues and events:

1. Profit margin

Music promoters and venues the world over know that it’s only the successful nights, with big crowds and thirsty guests that will end up in a profitable show. If you’re 25% full and everyone is on dry January then you’re unlikely to be taking a profit home. If social distancing regulation means that capacity has to be significantly reduced then it’s going to be very hard to justify opening the doors. Venues may try to increase prices to counter the lower numbers, but with the higher levels of financial uncertainty it’s unclear if this will fly with punters.

2. Atmosphere

Sure, people go to see bands, djs and performers to experience their favourite artists in the flesh, but it’s more than that, it’s about social connection and being part of the atmosphere and buzz of a venue that stays with you years to come. A socially distanced audience might struggle to recreate the vibe and energy we’ve been used to.

3. Practicalities

Music venues, bars and clubs come in an array of shapes, sizes and layouts - this makes keeping people 2 meters away from each other at all times very tricky. It’s hard enough circumnavigating someone picking up their milk in a supermarket, so it’s unclear how these rules translate into venues with bars, toilets and different rooms in constant use.

However, venues are adapting and might have to start thinking differently.

Last week NME reported that music venues in Arkansas are slowly reopening with socially distanced concerts. Tickets can only be purchased in “fan pods” of 2-12 seats, each of which will be some six feet apart from the next group.

With that in mind, here is a shortlist of some ideas that may help venues reopen:

1. Move to seated

It might not work for your death metal venues, but if you have a more relaxed music venue that has had a standing audience in the past - could you think about converting into a seated venue? If so, you may be able to safely offer a socially distanced event.

2. Cleanliness and safety equipment

Ticket buyers are going to expect a significant increase in the level of hygiene. One suggestion is to use fog sprayers to disinfect large spaces. But on a smaller scale, increasing the frequency and depth of cleans will become standard. You could also factor the cost of face masks and hand sanitiser into the ticket price to ensure everyone in the audience is doing all they can do to stay safe.

3. Zones and spaces

Instead of seating, you could take inspiration from these protestors and socially distance from each other whilst standing by using floor markers. These floor markers will effectively be “seats” and you could even include couple or family tickets so that people who can be together safely are not unnecessarily separated.

This isn’t an exhaustive list, but we’re going to keep our finger on the pulse and bring you all the latest ideas to help you reopen your events safely and in a Covid secure way. Stay tuned.