Cancelled shows forcing big bucks refunds - Booking agents, artistes left in state of uncertainty
With the continued spread of the COVID-19 worldwide, there have been growing concern among promoters, entertainers and even booking agents who have been feeling the pinch, as events continue to be either cancelled or postponed overseas.
US-based booking agent, Don Hines, says he has booked a few Jamaican artistes through his agency, and many of these shows have been cancelled because of the coronavirus.
"What would have been a normal routine, doing shows from the east coast to the west coast, most of these shows have been cancelled. It's tough economically on all parties, we are talking about deposits sent in and deposits that have to be returned," said Hines, who has personally had to return US$30,000 for cancelled bookings.
He noted that some are club events that don't 'pay big'.
"But I know some people who have to be returning up to US$100,000, because they booked a series of shows, like 10 shows, and you get a quarter of the deposit. So if you have five artistes, you multiply that by five," Hines explained. "So far the affected areas of Seattle, Portland, Oregon, Sacramento, Oakland, Santa Cruz, Los Angeles on the west coast ... and for the east coast, Detroit, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, St Louis, Cleveland and North Carolina. We are still optimistic about the summer festival for Atlanta."
Despite continued interest of promoters to book artistes for events in the US, Hines said that "the fear is still greater than the interest", as not many artistes are willing to risk it.
"The clubs are hurting too and the venue people, so it's a big thing. The flu kills 54,000 people every year in America, based on the last statistics, and I don't think we have had 400 deaths (from the coronavirus) in America, yet there is panic. I don't know if that's the case in Jamaica, but on the shelves here, when it comes to sanitary needs, the sanitisers are on the low," said Hines.
He noted that even airfares are at an all-time low, but they are unable to take advantage.
"Plane fares, even domestic, at this time, is a good look, because I could get a return fare, probably for US$74 from the east coast to the west coast, which is normally a US$400 fare, because nobody is on the plane," he tells eProbe.
Locally, artistes have also been feeling the pinch.
Singer Sophia Brown, who was scheduled to leave the island in a matter of weeks, says "now, the virus has affected mainly all my engagements overseas. I was scheduled to leave April 13 for band rehearsals, but the tour would kick off on April 18 in Cincinnati."
Brown said that so far, six of her shows have been cancelled.
And there are other entertainers who are bracing for the worst, as Tanto Metro and Devonte, who are booked for shows in North and South America and in Africa, over the next few months, say they just have to wait and see what is happening.
"We see everywhere postponing events, and so we are just bracing ourselves," Devonte told eProbe. "The show in Africa is next month, that's the closest one, so until they find a solution, we are looking at that one as a possible cancellation."
Devonte says the coronavirus "is a very sad thing, but it's the reality of what's happening right now and we have to just deal with that."
The singer is however urging everyone to take the necessary precautions "and be considerate towards each other. We (Tanto Metro and Devonte) are normally low key, but we are still mindful of who we come into contact with."
Beenie Man has also had at least one show postponed in Africa.
"We were supposed to go in the next two weeks, but we got an email saying the show was cancelled," Beenie Man's manager and brother, Rohan 'Blue' Smith advised.
However, they continue to closely monitor what is happening, as Smith said, "We continue to take extra precautions and if we don't have to go anywhere, we don't. There is general fear and we just don't want things to get any worse in Jamaica."