With density limits and other restrictions on indoor music venues reintroduced as Victoria reports more than 30,000 new cases of COVID-19 every day, the live music industry is once again feeling the pain.
Venues are barely keeping their heads above water after cancelling any show they had booked for the near future while artists have been left in limbo not knowing whether gigs and tours can go ahead.
In response to the issues caused by the pandemic, the Australian Music Industry Network and the Australian Festival Association have been keeping track of lost gigs and income throughout the Australian music industry through the I Lost My Gig Australia initiative.
The survey, which has been completed by more than 3000 music industry professionals, found more than 32,000 gigs and events were cancelled since July 1, 2021, equating to almost $94 million of lost income.
The survey also showed that 99 per cent of respondents had no income protection or event cancellation insurance.
Music Victoria is also getting behind artists as gigs are canned, creating a checklist to help music fans support their favourite artists.
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Ballarat-based venue and event programmer Lachy Anderson said 2021 ended on an optimistic note, but there was now a feeling of 'here we go again' throughout the music industry.
"When you're programming events or venues, I could just see it with the language choices that were being made of mandatory masks and then recommending seated service and no dancing," he said.
"You could just see the roadmap for it was we're going to be at density limits and tours are going to be cancelled, so there was that fear of 'here we go again'."
Mr Anderson said many artists could see the changes coming after experiencing the cancellations multiple times over the last two years.
"When things were looking okay, mid to late last year before Omicron hit, I think a lot of artists were probably trying to plan their tours. They probably released music or wanted to release music but didn't want to release it without touring," he said.
"A lot of local artists probably had a lot of things lined up, multiple shows up the coast, overseas tours. Even that sense of being able to do it without having the concern of it being cancelled or postponed.
"I think it's that sense of what's next and the reality of it is that there's currently no support for it, but hopefully, like we've seen in the past, they have come to a conclusion of giving support to artists and the live music industries or just the arts industry in general and hospitality as well. There's a lot of industries that are hurting."
Ballarat hardcore band Nicolas Cage Fighter were getting ready for bigger and better things in 2022 after a successful 2021 where they were signed to an international label and shortlisted for the Music Victoria Awards.
Guitarist Justin Ellis said the band was getting ready to announce a tour in the coming days, but those plans were quickly put on hold.
"It all looked super promising, didn't it? We were gearing up to play some shows, we had some coming up in Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne, but that's all come to a grinding halt again. It's hard to stay positive and keep promoting these shows, but I guess you've just got to keep rolling with it," he said.
"We were meant to announce a tour tomorrow. That's going to have to be put on the back burner until we can find out more about if we're allowed to, but right now we're probably close to eight shows that we're cancelling in this timeframe.
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"We've got two shows in Melbourne next month and a hometown Ballarat show that we had to cancel three times last year, but same sort of thing, no one knows enough at the moment to know if they're going to go ahead."
Mr Ellis said it was draining to continue to promote shows he was not sure were going to go ahead.
"It is draining. I don't know if a lot of people know the effort that goes into putting together a tour or something like that," he said.
"It takes months and months to organise finding a venue to put the show on, finding bands that can play that day, making sure everyone in your band can play that date as well. Every time we have to cancel a show or reschedule one, it means we've got to go back and ask all these bands if they can do the next show, most of the time they can't so we've got to go find a new band.
"At the moment, our biggest money maker is playing shows and we're just waiting to go but not able to do anything. It's hard, too, especially because if we do get to play shows, we play heavy music, we don't want to play to 15 people sitting at tables and chairs or something like that."
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