Adele vs. Taylor Swift, Covid, and Entertainment Industry Pandemic Insurance

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Intermittently over the last few years, I have seen the occasional tweet asserting, knowingly, that this or that entertainer was unable to cancel a performance because of Covid, because insurance — the business we know and love so much in health care — wouldn’t insure the loss. But there would never be a link! This week, fortuitously, information on Adele and Covid + information on “event cancellation” insurance came across my feed in close proximity, so I felt I finally had enough material for a writeup, and I went looking for material on Taylor Swift for a compare-and-contrast to Adele.

I’m going to have to issue even more caveats than usual. First, I know nothing of the mononymous Adele or Taylor Swift; I don’t listen to their music. Here are Adele’s statistics from Billboard:

And here are Swift’s:

As you can see, considered as show business “properties,” neither artist is a negligible figure, although Swift is the brighter star. (The chart pages also include potted bios.)

A second caveat: I know as much about insurance as I know about, say, surety bonds; that is to say, virtually nothing. So I hope readers will correct any errors I make, and add insights to the information I am able to present.

First I will look at how Adele is handling Covid, and then compare her to Swift. Then I will briefly describe the insurance situation during the pandemic. Now, while I am sure that insurance requirements bulk large in the minds of both artists’ business managers, their reasoning remains opaque to all of us. So that’s my third caveat: This post must be a bit dissociated, in that we cannot reason from insurance policies (or lack thereof) to the artist’s behavior (or the other way round). All we can do is speculate, and there are doubtless readers whose speculation is more informed than my own.

Now let’s turn to Adele and Swift. Contemporary popular music is really not my world, so my approach was to do cursory searches for each year of the pandemic, and aggregate the best Covid nuggets (along with information about the music business, and possible reveals of the artists, insofar as the efforts of publicists permit). And I might make a comment or two along the way. First, Adele.



“Adele praises coronavirus heroes on her birthday: ‘Truly our angels'” Los Angeles Times:

“I hope you’re all staying safe and sane during this crazy time,” the singer posted Tuesday, along with a photo of herself smiling from home in a little black dress and heels.

“I’d like to thank all of our first responders and essential workers who are keeping us safe while risking their lives! You are truly our angels.”

That “us safe” and “their lives” is a little too on-the-nose. Remember “essential workers”? Good times.

‘Corona ain’t over, I’m quarantining’: Adele tells fan to be patient for new album (WION)

Corona ain’t over. I’m quarantining. Wear a mask and be patient.” Although Adele didn`t offer up a timetable for her fans, they may only have a couple more months left to wait.


Adele: Full COVID-19 vaccination and negative test required to attend singer’s Las Vegas shows (Sky News)

“Both proof of vaccination AND proof of a negative test within 48-hours of the event is required to enter the event,” according to the website.

It must have been at least 14 days since their second vaccine dose, and the negative test result must have been received within 48 hours of the event.

Back when everybody somehow had gotten the idea that the Covid vaccines were sterilizing and would prevent transmission. (These Vegas shows were cancelled in 2022.)


Adele ‘will use £400,000 of special technology to protect her voice during her Las Vegas residency at Caesars Palace’ (Daily Mail)

‘The system works by combining dehumidifiers, purification units, water molecule dispersal and cooling fans in the preparation room and then guiding that air around the stage when she performs.

I’m betting not only her voice, but her lungs, from airborne pathogens.

Adele Announces Rescheduled Dates For Long-Delayed Las Vegas Residency (StereoGum)

Back in November, pop superstar Adele announced plans to play a four-month residency in Las Vegas. The idea was for Adele to spend the first four months of 2022 singing her hits at the Coliseum at Caesar’s Palace. But in January, shortly before those shows were set to start, Adele made a tearful video announcement that COVID-related production delays


‘You should see the f***ing state of me!’: Adele warns fans her new concert special has her looking ‘insane’ with a ‘melted’ face due to the unbearable Las Vegas heat (Daily Mail)

My fans weren’t working on my stage. You can’t see them, but they’re built into my stage’

“Fans” in the sense of the ventilation system described above. Visible purifiers, big units, would have been an encouraging touch.

Adele no longer taking selfies during Las Vegas shows (Music News)

Throughout her [Vegas] residency, Adele has been filmed and photographed mingling with fans in the audience and posing for selfies, however, she has now put a stop to this.

Normally I would absolutely stop and chat and all of that and hear all about your life and be the nosey person that I am,” the singer said during her most recent show. “However, I’m hanging on by a thread trying not to get COVID.”

Adele noted that her backing singer Amanda was recently forced to miss performances after testing positive for the virus.

“Everyone that I know that I work with has f**king COVID, so it’s a miracle that I haven’t had it yet,” she stated. “And I really do love chatting to you, but I don’t want to get sick, I’ll take selfies from a distance or shoot your vid.”

The Skyfall singer continued, “I might have symptoms and then I can’t do my show and I will be damned if I cancel any more of these shows. I refuse to cancel any shows. I just can’t risk getting ill. Honestly, my immune system is in the gutter and I want to be close to you and stuff like that, but I just can’t risk it.”


Adele shows off the spoils of her £83M Las Vegas residency by sporting £875 jeans and a Dior bag as she enjoys a dinner date with husband Rich Paul in Beverly Hills (Daily Mail)

At least she’s masking in public. And now to Swift, whose timeline is similar in some ways to Adele’s, in some ways not.

Taylor Swift


Taylor Swift broke all her rules with Folklore—and gave herself a much-needed escape (Entertainment Weekly)

[H]ow difficult has it been to see folks on Lower Broadway crowding the bars without masks?

I mean, you just immediately think of the health workers who are putting their lives on the line—and oftentimes losing their lives. If they make it out of this, if they see the other side of it, there’s going to be a lot of trauma that comes with that; there’s going to be things that they witnessed that they will never be able to un-see. And that was the connection that I drew. I did a lot of research on my grandfather [here] in the beginning of quarantine, and it hit me very quickly that we’ve got a version of that trauma happening right now in our hospitals. God, you hope people would respect it and would understand that going out for a night isn’t worth the ripple effect that it causes. But obviously we’re seeing that a lot of people don’t seem to have their eyes open to that—or if they do, a lot of people don’t care, which is upsetting.

Very acute; Adele said more or less the same thing. Not, perhaps, as “upsetting” now as then?

Taylor Swift Urges Fans to ‘Isolate’ Amid Coronavirus Outbreak: ‘We Need to Make Social Sacrifices’ (People)

I love you guys so much and need to express my concern that things aren’t being taken seriously enough right now. I’m seeing lots of get togethers and hangs and parties still happening,” wrote Swift. “This is the time to cancel plans, actually truly isolate as much as you can, and don’t assume that because you don’t feel sick that you aren’t possibly passing something on to someone elderly or vulnerable to this. It’s a really scary time but we need to make social sacrifices right now.”

Also acute (though “right now,” and since when is solidarity a sacrifice?).

Taylor Swift Gave Thousands of Dollars to Fans Affected by the Coronavirus Pandemic (Vogue)

The 30-year-old pop star has been sending fans individual payments online to help with financial burdens accrued due to COVID-19, with Billboard confirming that at least 10 such payments were made by Swift.


The surprising allure of Taylor Swift in a pandemic world (Yahoo Finance!)

The artist released two new albums in 2020 and on Friday is re-releasing her 2008 album Fearless following a vicious dispute with her former label.

The decision to re-release the album could make her one of the most successful artists in the history of Billboard’s Hot 100.

However, according to AMP Capital chief economist Shane Oliver, the re-release is also an exercise in COVID-19 nostalgia and escapism.

The prominent economist and known Swifty said the two new albums Swift put out last year were made possible by COVID-19 isolation and an inability to tour. While he described those as a pleasant surprise, the broader popularity of her catalogue during COVID-19 had a simple explanation: people needed a break.

“It’s known that when you have economic downturns and people are feeling depressed, you do see an increase in escapism, people reading fantasy novels, gambling can sometimes see a boost and music may figure in that,” he told Yahoo Finance.

“People want to listen to it again.”

In fact, according to its analysis of Alexa streams, Taylor Swift and Adele music was more popular than even Donald Trump or COVID-19 news.

Taylor Swift Officially Cancels Tour Postponed Last Year Due To The COVID-19 Pandemic (CBS)

Taylor Swift announced Friday that her Lover Fest tour, which was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, has officially been canceled.

The singer took to Twitter to share the cancelation saying, “I love coming on here to tell you good news, or to share a new project with you. It’s not my favorites thing in the world to have to tell you news I’m sad about. I’m so sorry but I cannot reschedule the shows that we postponed.”

She continued,” Although refunds have been available since we first postponed the Lover Fest shows, many of you hung onto your tickets and I too hung onto the idea that we could reschedule.”

This is an unprecedented pandemic that has changed everyone’s plans and no one knows what the touring landscape is going to look like in the near future.”

“I’m so disappointed that I won’t be able to see you in person as soon as I wanted to. I miss you terribly and can’t wait til we can all safely be at shows together again.”

No refunds for those who hung on, then? And not all that unprecedented….


The Return to Craft: Taylor Swift, Nostalgia, and Covid-19 (Popular Music and Society)

Why this turn to folklore and indie-folk esthetics in Swift’s work? I suggest that this single and, indeed, the album folklore provide a peak example of a societal search for foundations during the pandemic. What I term “the return to craft” can be read as a distillation of the nostalgic, folkloric mode of contemporary Western society, one that has arisen in response to the cultural issues raised in part by the Covid-19 pandemic, but also by neoliberalism, homogenization, austerity, and the anxiety brought on by climate change. As Swift found a life raft in songcraft (literally, in the music video), so too did craft and the handmade deliver a figurative life raft, a comfort and a solace, to many during lockdown. This construction of imagined authenticities, the focus on essentials, on first principles, reflects something deeper than superficial YouTube self-help or commodification; it has also become a genuine source of relief in such difficult circumstances and its artistic outputs provide culturally contingent insights.

Hmm. Readers?


In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, many celebrities have spoken out about the importance of vaccination. Among them is Taylor Swift, who recently announced that she has been vaccinated.

Welcome to ‘Swiftonomics’: What Taylor Swift reveals about the US economy (Sydney Morning Herald)

Taylor Swift’s upcoming US tour of 52 concerts has all the ingredients of a post-COVID demand shock. Some resellers reportedly asked $US40,000 ($60,000) or more for concert tickets following last week’s run on official sales, which left millions empty-handed and ready to pay whatever it takes to score a seat.

Swifties, as the popstar’s fans are known, aren’t necessarily your average American, but they capture the current moment in the post-COVID economy. Even as recession looms, many consumers are willing to splurge on what they missed at the height of the pandemic — whether it’s travel or live entertainment.

Swift’s fans represent an extreme version of that turbocharged consumer: millions of mostly Millennials and Gen Zs who waited at least four years to see the superstar live again and emerged from the pandemic with historically high rates of savings.

“Concerts are seen as an affordable luxury in times of crisis,” said Lisa Yang, a Goldman Sachs analyst who publishes the bank’s annual “Music in the Air” report on the global industry.

“Post-Covid”? In 2022? Really?

How it feels to be a Taylor Swift fan right now (Today)

Having been unable to tour her albums “Lover” (2019), “Folklore” (2020) and “Evermore” (2020) because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Swift’s forthcoming tour is her first in five years.

Swifties knew demand would be high.

Though it was his first time purchasing tickets for a Swift concert, Goodman headed to Ticketmaster ready for battle … aka armed with a color-coordinated priority map.

“Red is first priority in, green a second priority, and then blue is third priority,” he says. “I was prepared, but I was running it through with my friends, making sure we were on the same page about what we wanted with the budgets and seats.”

(This is the TicketMaster debacle). The whole red/green/blue paradigm reminds me of the “Swiss Cheese Model,” although with a different objective in mind….


A Swiftie Redditor on risk at concerts:

Keep reduced/isolated/COVID safe activities before and after the concert. Given the size of the stadium and the fact that a concert involves a lot of singing/screaming, this is a high risk event for getting & spreading COVID. Before your trip, research and stick to outdoor venues for food and drinks (beer gardens, patios, etc.) and mask up when you are indoors in public places/museums/hotels/Ubers/Lyfts after the concert so you can avoid spreading anything afterwards too. Mask up on any planes/trains/buses you take to get back home. If you have vulnerable loved ones, let them know about your trip/concert and continue to mask around them or avoid in-person contact with them for 1-2 weeks.

Could Taylor Swift mania fuel a COVID cruel summer? What you need to know (Los Angeles Times)

“People have to be aware that it’s a potential venue [for infection], and riskier than most venues, given all the shouting, the singing, the fact that it’s three hours — even though it’s outdoors,” said Dr. Peter Chin-Hong, a UC San Francisco infectious-disease expert. “You’re just bringing people together from lots of different places … people are traveling all over the country to the city where they can get tickets. So it’s like a mega airport, or a mega transportation site, if you think about it.”

Lots of Swifties Are Saying They Got COVID After the LA Eras Tour Shows (Self)

And while most of the social media coverage has featured Swifties dancing and belting out bops like “Cruel Summer” and “Lavender Haze,” some attendees of last week’s SoFi Stadium shows in Los Angeles have been posting about a less joyful effect of their concert euphoria: a positive COVID-19 test….. The city (along with other parts of California as well as other areas of the country) has been experiencing an uptick in COVID as of last Thursday—to be more specific, an average of 333 new cases per day, according to the most recent data from the LA County Department of Public Health. “It’s impossible to say for certain if and how much the Taylor Swift concerts, or any other single large event, contributed to these increasing counts,” the department confirmed to SELF in an email. “We know large gatherings where thousands of people are in close proximity are higher risk events, however, it is very likely that increased rates of summer travel and other gatherings are also contributing to the increase.”

Swift wearing a (stylish, black) KN95 behind the scenes while making a music video:


Taylor Swift Says She Was a ‘Lonely Millennial Woman’ During COVID Quarantine Despite Joe Alwyn Romance (Hollywood Reporter)

Despite the speculation about her former relationship, Taylor has never publicly spoken out about it, but she did admit she’s a lot more trusting in life now than she was back then, in an interview with TIME last year. “Life is short. Have adventures. Me locking myself away in my house for a lot of years — I’ll never get that time back,” she told the outlet after being named their “Person of the Year.” “I’m more trusting now than I was six years ago.”

Echoing GBD whinging about lockdowns. She wrote two albums, ffs. Does she really want that time back?

More superspreading events:

“Hundreds.” Looks like the best testing info we have, besides wastewater, is Tiktok videos, Twitter, and Reddit. What a farce.

Why Taylor Swift won’t meet with Aussie fans while Down Under (Yahoo Lifestyle)

Yet millions of fans across the country sadly won’t get the opportunity to see the superstar on stage following unprecedented ticket demand – meaning many are dreaming of catching a glimpse of Taylor taking in the sights whilst visiting Sydney and Melbourne instead.

However, a music industry source told Yahoo Lifestyle that Taylor has no plans to be seen anywhere but the stage whilst in Australia, nor does she intend on meeting any fans, due to one strict reason.

“When Taylor is on tour, strict measures are put into place to stop her interacting with anyone outside of her ‘bubble’. They can not risk her getting sick under any circumstances.

So Covid’s not “over,” then? More:

Even those in her bubble, including her dancers and managers, are restricted what they can do and where they can go during their downtime. Going on a world tour may sound exciting, but the reality of it is each day just consists of going from a hotel room to the venue and repeat,” the source says.

At Taylor’s first show at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Friday, her publicist Tree Paine was even walking through the venue wearing a mask to reduce her chance of catching any illnesses as she is in direct contact with Taylor each day.

“Even!” Wouldn’t it be nice to live in a world where a fan’s life was as important as the star’s?

We might also remember that the concert venue is not the only place where crowds gather and superspreading takes place. The scene after Swift’s Sydney concert:

And some data:

Surely it would have been possible to make that situation safer? Readers?

The Pandemic and Entertainment Insurance

So as we can see, Covid had huge effects on both Adele and Swift; the social stresses of the pandemic created demand for their styles of music, but the pandemic also made touring difficult-to-impossible. Both artists ultimately took measures to protect themselves from infection by eliminating contact with fans (and, in Swift’s case at least, masking and “bubbling” during the tour). Both artists also had to cancel tours.

The cost of cancellations can be great. From Billboard, “Tour Cancellations Go Viral — Why the Risk May Be Too Great for Some Acts“:

The immediate cost of Edgar Winter‘s sore throat and minor congestion [uh huh] — followed by bandmate Steve Lukather‘s own symptoms — was roughly $11 million. When the “Free Ride” rocker and the Toto guitarist both tested positive for COVID-19 in June, Ringo Starr had to postpone 12 of his All-Starr Band’s shows; earlier dates had grossed more than $900,000 apiece, according to Billboard Boxscore.

The All-Starr Band moved the dozen canceled shows to this fall — they resumed touring earlier this month — but the stars’ positive tests demonstrate an ongoing problem for touring acts as they return to the road. Postponements are complicated; cancellations are devastating. This past summer, the Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton, the Doobie Brothers, Chris Stapleton, Alan Jackson, Blondie, Haim, Jenny Lewis, Bikini Kill and the Strokes were among the top stars who scrambled to reschedule dates when band members (including Mick Jagger) or crew came up positive.

Obviously, people’s health is the most important, but the big thing is the financial implications. You’re making plans for ‘what if we have to cancel the tour one week in or two weeks in?'” says Ed Harris, manager of indie-rock band Cigarettes After Sex, which returned to international touring in late May and has, thus far, avoided positive tests. “Does it make sense to cancel halfway through, or three-quarters through? You have to make certain calculations.”

Of course, you can be careful:

Especially for smaller artists, the financial risk of touring is high. That’s why Andrew Bird and Iron & Wine were scrupulously careful during the summer co-headlining tour. They asked audience members to wear masks (most complied), played mostly outdoor venues and regularly tested crew and artists in their traveling bubble.

Now let’s look at whether it’s possible to insure against those costs. The CARES Act funded the Government Accountablity Office (GAO) to look into this question. In their December 2023 report (PDF), “Pandemic Risk: Federal Insurance Approaches Would Entail Costs to Taxpayers and Businesses Might Not Participate,” the GAO desribes two lines of business of relevance to the entertainment industry:

  • Event cancellation insurance protects a business against expenses or lost revenue resulting from cancellation or postponement for reasons beyond the business’s control. Events can include.conferences, concerts, conventions, sporting competitions, and festivals, and policies can cover causes such as severe weather, venue unavailability, and labor strikes.
  • Cast and production insurance covers additional expenses an entertainment industry production must pay to continue operating, including production delays due to loss of cast or crew, or repair of damaged sets.

There have been event cancellation claims paid, but of course we have no data:

Insurers paid some claims on event cancellation insurance policies, although comprehensive U.S. data on event cancellation claims are not publicly available. According to specialty insurers, brokers, and businesses, before the COVID-19 pandemic insurers typically offered a virus endorsement—that is, an option providing coverage for communicable diseases or other specific risks. One example of large U.S. events covered by event cancellation insurance was the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s 2020 winter and spring championships. In March 2020, these events, including the annual men’s March Madness basketball tournament, were cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The tournament had been expected to bring in more than $800 million, and the association received a $270 million payout.

And the insurance companies are tightening up:

According to stakeholders, property/casualty insurers generally have taken steps to fully restrict or limit their exposures to future pandemic losses since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, some businesses have been operating with more uninsured risk than desired, because coverage is either unavailable or unaffordable… Endorsements covering communicable disease for some policies, such as event cancellation, generally were no longer available or were available at higher prices and with lowered coverage limits soon after the beginning of the pandemic, according to associations of brokers and policyholders we interviewed. Some large reinsurers still were offering explicit pandemic risk coverage for event cancellation, but the coverage was costly and insufficient to allow insurers to meet policyholder needs, according to brokers and policyholders. As a result, some policyholders were left holding more of the risk.

The insurance companies are also removing Covid protection from their policies entirely. From the law firm Hunton Andrews Kurth (PDF):

For instance, insurance companies have denied coverage for event cancellations during the COVID-19 pandemic arguing, in part, that the proximate cause of the policyholder’s loss was the pandemic — a communicable disease excluded by the policies — and not the government orders prohibiting large gatherings, a covered cause of loss under the policies. COVID-19 is now being excluded from new event cancellation insurance policies. Before the pandemic, event cancellation insurance policies generally contained explicit coverage buy-backs for losses from communicable disease. The policyholders paid an extra, specifically identified premium to remove any exclusion for communicable disease from these policies. Those policies typically covered a specified amount of net profit and included additional coverages for costs of remedial action, future marketing expenses, etc., beyond that specified amount of coverage. Nonetheless, because of COVID-19, policyholders who bought event cancellation coverage after April 2020 may be subject to broad exclusions for losses related to COVID-19.

Back to the GAO. One response has been to create “captive” insurance companies:

In response to the tightened insurance market, businesses increasingly have created captive insurance companies. For example, a major insurance broker reported a historic increase in the number of captives in 2020, which continued into 2021 and 2022. The growth occurred in multiple business sectors. The broker reported that existing captives also saw increased premium growth in this time frame, suggesting organizations were transferring more of their risk to the captive companies. Types of coverages purchased through captives included event cancelation, liability, and property coverage (which could include business interruption insurance). For instance, the National Collegiate Athletic Association formed a captive insurance company in March 2022 to cover risks typically covered by event cancellation and liability policies

I suppose a behemoth like K-Pop’s JYP could create a captive insurance company for its many acts. I doubt if Taylor Swift’s organization, smart and effective though it is, could, let alone Adele. Which explains, I suppose, why they’ve taken measures to avoid contact with fans. That’s the only way for them to minimize their risks.

Of course, there is always opportunity. The Insurer TV describes new products:

One of the steps taken by Alive Risk to adapt to changing product needs has been the creation of an affordable insurance product for freelance workers like audiovisual techs, lighting designers and stage managers, among others.

With clean air, the freelancers wouldn’t have to pay up….


Making those timelines — 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023, 2024 — really brought home to me how long this pandemic has been going on; I lost track in the daily grind (though the daily grind is also my form of coping). And it’s a bit discouraging to see the most solidarity our society seems capable of fizzle out after 2020, followed by a struggle to return to business as usual, a struggle that failed by 2024, in that a once-essential part of touring — contact with the fans — has now gone missing.

We can, of course, moralize about what how these artists have gone about their business:

To be fair, though, when CDC Director Mandy Cohen is swanning about with no mask, modeling how to infect everybody she breathes on, what’s a poor celebrity to do? Restoring social norms that support non-pharmaceutical interventions will probably take a whole-of-society approach (which could happen when those Tiktokers start doing their research).

Here, however, are two small steps artists like Adele and Taylor Swift could do to improve the Covid pandemic situation.

First, big acts could really help out smaller acts by supporting organizations like this one:

Second, sell N95s at your concerts and on your websites as branded merch. K-Pop powerhouse Twice already does this (though KN94s, not N95s):

And if, by some happy chance, some intern from either organization reads this post, please champion these ideas!

Oh, and champion clean air, too. Who could be against that? Miasma delenda est!

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. upstater

    Fans have to enter venues and have tickets scanned and security. Why are the mega tours not handing out free K/N95s at the entrance and requiring their use?

    Could it be fans have paid, their utility expended?

    1. Acacia

      The music industry is bad, but this take strikes me as a bit too cynical. It’s an excellent suggestion, though. Indeed, why not free masks? They could even be branded merch, like the Twice mask. Perhaps this is not happening because people continue to associate masks with danger, ergo handling out masks might be perceived as saying the venue isn’t “safe” (though what are people thinking, anyway?).

      In the current scheme of things, fandom often entails not only being a follower, but at times an almost cult-like devotion to the brand. Listen to how Adele speaks about her fans, how personal she makes the relationship with them sound. Of course there’s an insincere element in this, but appearances must be maintained.

      Everybody knows stardom is fleeting. If the brand overtly treats fans as mere punters in a disposable transaction, many will simply move on.

      Regarding the issue of people getting infected by piling into trains, the obvious solution would be more trains, opening all the windows, or crowd control to limit the number of passengers. Using a trusty Aranet4, I’ve actually measured CO2 on local trains and the numbers are indeed very high. I have made a routine of opening a window on any train that I enter, and have noticed that very often people look up from their cellphones quizzically, to try and understand what I’m doing. From this, I take it that the basic fact of #CovidIsAirborne simply hasn’t registered with the public in general, and for that we can thank our public health authorities.

      1. upstater

        A Swiftie or Adele logoware K/N95 mask would be a supreme badge of honor. Can you imagine how cool it would be to parade with such a mask with the official hologram? What is the resale value? Or knock offs? Or masks for the StoopidBowl, World Cup or Sweet 16? I guess that doesn’t fit in with eugenics.

        Yes, cynical indeed! AFIK, COVID clean after multiple international flights since late February 2020, thanks to NC.

        BTW, most passenger train windows i’m familiar with do not open (with very few exceptions) for good reasons.

        1. Acacia

          Well, yeah, maybe I’m not cynical enough, but it seems like the eugenicists would be a different(?) group than the music and concert promoters/managers. [EDIT: reading Tom Stone’s comment, below, maybe I need to rethink this!] As for the latter, it does just look like a yuge missed opportunity, for all the reasons you mention, and more. Maybe just greed (decent masks will cost)? Dunno. Not a big concert-goer myself, but I have always seen branded “goods” for sale in the area outside the hall and fans are ready to splurge on them. Overpriced drinks are also a staple. Why not masks? People even hang onto their concert ticket stubs for years, so branded masks seem like a no-brainer.

          As for trains, yes, should clarify that I haven’t frequented one in the US in some years, and what you say jibes with my memory. Where I live now in East Asia, most usual train cars have a couple of windows that can open and they were cracked during the epidemic as a matter of policy. However, it was the train company that opened them, not the passengers. Never saw any other passengers do this themselves. People may think the air inside is “okay” because there are several train doors opening automatically at every stop, but what I discovered is that this isn’t true. Even on local trains with three sets of doors opening, interior CO2 levels in the yellow and red zones (1000~1400, and 1400+ ppm) are really common when the train is crowded. Post-concert, those trains in the tweet are going to be in the red zone, for sure.

  2. Rip Van Winkle

    51 years earlier Mick, Keith, Bill and Charlie at Altamont. Who would have written a half-century term life insurance policy for Keith back then?

    1. lambert strether

      They didn’t wear masks in the skyboxes (except for Swift’s mother who is immuno-compromised with cancer). I assume the ventilation is good, since skyboxes are for the rich. My impression — fans will correct me — is that Swift is in her “small world” bubble wherever she goes. The star cannot be infected under any circumstances.

      1. Jason Boxman

        I’d pay a pretty penny to understand the truth depth of the layered strategy employed by those performers, such as Swift, that take this seriously, particularly any expensive or experimental mitigations that we rarely hear about.

        1. Bugs

          Trolling here won’t last long especially with a no fact comment like this one. The “muzzle” is just so incredibly intelligent.

        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          > She never wears a muzzle.

          The amazing, and indicative, thing here is that our friend Jack is able to deny what is right before his eyes; the post includes a photo of Swift in a stylish black mask. So, not “never.”

          1. Randall Flagg

            I think Mr. JackG is referring to that saying, “Who you gonna believe, me or your lying eyes?”…
            Or, nothing to see here, move along…

  3. redleg

    When the “talent” gets sick on one of these big tours and cancels a show, the following people are out of work:
    Band techs (instrument maintainers)
    Stage crew
    Sound techs
    Lighting techs
    A/V techs
    Merch staff
    Teamsters/truck drivers
    Bus drivers
    Admin staff and publicists
    Food service (sometimes, especially big touring festivals)
    Venue staff
    The “talent” and everyone on a tour knows that if the talent goes down sick, they all lose. It’s not necessarily vanity, although that’s often present in abundance. Big tours are logistical operations that require precision planning, so cancellations are quite expensive as the baseline costs remain constant.

    Small(er) bands that tour in a van or bus without a giant set have more leverage to cancel shows if the venue doesn’t comply with conditions, or puts the band at unacceptable risk of not being able to complete the tour. But that’s another story.

    1. Patrick Morrison

      > Small(er) bands that tour in a van or bus without a giant set have more leverage to cancel shows if the venue doesn’t comply with conditions, or puts the band at unacceptable risk of not being able to complete the tour. But that’s another story.

      Off-topic, but if you want to read about that other story, or ever be in that kind of band, ‘Our Band Could be your Life’, Azerrad is a terrific read about a bunch of 80’s underground bands who did just that.

      1. redleg

        I concur with the book recommendation. Great book, a variety of travel styles for sure.
        I’ve (van) toured in a band myself back in the day. It’s not for the faint of heart, but I’m glad we did it.

    2. JustAnotherVolunteer

      The Grateful Dead pioneered the economics of big touring mostly because they didn’t make any money from recording and they carried a large family to support. It was all about the gigs. The graphic from this early newsletter is still one of the most concise models I’ve seen to illustrate the benefits and the pitfalls of scaling.

      The more things change…

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > The Grateful Dead pioneered the economics of big touring

        One more newsletter to subscribe to! (The writing in the archives is really, really good, the kind of California cool I wish that California still had:

        Gigs offer the only means to earn more money when it is needed to maintain our operation in all its particulars. We cannot sell more records at will, but we can go on the road, with the limits of energy: so that we must play larger halls, with more equipment, and a bigger organization, requiring more gigs….

        I just love “in all its particulars.”

        Now that I think of it, I wonder if the Dead invented a form of “fan service” as practiced by K-Pop and the idol groups of Japan.

        This would be a fascinating topic to look at, so perhaps I should post on it at some point. It would give me the excuse to play more YouTubes:

        This is one of favorite versions of “Beat It On Down the Line” (by San Francisco’s Jesse Fuller), partly because it swings, but also because of Kreutzman’s “just a day at the office” demeanor when the camera includes him after Garcia’s solo (c. 2:17).

  4. Skk

    I’m going to see Abba – Voyage in london in June. Fans, especially with the party like post show atmosphere in the nearby hotels and in the stadium will definitely be at risk – especially considering the demographic.
    But Agnetha Fältskog, Björn Ulvaeus, Benny Andersson, and Anni-Frid Lyngstad?
    Not likely. Canny lot, they won’t even be there !

    1. digi_owl

      I hear KISS is entering a similar digital existence.

      It does seem like Fukuyama was correct, but perhaps not in the way he meant it.

      Though perhaps as NA and European cultural influence stagnates, Asia will rise in their stead? Then again, it seems the economic influence of USA is as broad as its cultural influence. The cultural output of Japan at least seem to be more and more under the US economic thumb.

  5. Deltron

    Last summer, Pearl Jam had to postpone their concert just outside of Indianapolis due to a band member becoming sick, and then they rescheduled the concert one year later and offered full refunds to anyone that wanted one.

    Just a week ago, Widespread Panic postponed concerts in Chicago for one week due to a band member health issue. Now they’ve had to cancel them. Ticketmaster will refund the ticket purchasers, but there’s a one month lag time.

  6. Tom Stone

    My introduction to the Music Biz came about by being the first credit manager of Nady Systems, the first company to come out with workable cordless Mics and instrument pick ups.
    Calling that biz “Cut throat” is accurate, the only biz I worked in that had fewer decent people in it was banking.

    1. redleg

      It’s an odd combination of the nastiest scum of the earth and the nicest people ever. Sometimes both apply to the same person.

  7. JackG

    Considering that COVID has mutated into a cold virus with symptoms so mild most people don’t get tested, this is a joke.

    If you are really concerned, go on low dose Ivermec and zinc a week before the event. But whatever you do, don’t take the death vax.

    I can’t believe people are still wearing masks in blue States.

    1. ambrit

      Good heavens. Are you serious? I do hope your first line was humour. Two thousand people dying from Coronavirus per week at present, just in the United states is not an average cold season. And, most people don’t get tested because it is now expensive and generally an ‘out of pocket’ expense. Plus, there’s more!, Long Covid is beginning to show it’s ‘ugly’ side. [Unless, of course, one is a Jackpot supporter.]
      Stay safe, and keep others safe too!

    2. Acacia

      @JackG, sources, please, that support your claims, and engage with the current research, e.g.:

      Long-term outcomes following hospital admission for COVID-19 versus seasonal influenza: a cohort study

      Over 18 months of follow-up, compared to seasonal influenza, the COVID-19 group had an increased risk of death (hazard ratio [HR] 1·51 [95% CI 1·45–1·58]), corresponding to an excess death rate of 8·62 (95% CI 7·55–9·44) per 100 persons in the COVID-19 group versus the influenza group. Comparative analyses of 94 prespecified health outcomes showed that COVID-19 had an increased risk of 68·1% (64 of 94) pre-specified health outcomes; seasonal influenza was associated with an increased risk of 6·4% (six of 94) pre-specified health outcomes, including three out of four pre-specified pulmonary outcomes. Analyses of organ systems showed that COVID-19 had a higher risk across all organ systems except for the pulmonary system, the risk of which was higher in seasonal influenza.

      Hospital Outcomes of Community-Acquired SARS-CoV-2 Omicron Variant Infection Compared With Influenza Infection in Switzerland

      the SARS-CoV-2 Omicron variant was associated with an approximately 1.5-fold higher risk of in-hospital all-cause mortality up to day 30 compared with influenza

      Outcomes of SARS-CoV-2 Omicron Variant Infections Compared With Seasonal Influenza and Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infections in Adults Attending the Emergency Department: A Multicenter Cohort Study

      The 30-day mortality was 7.9% (n = 381) in the Omicron, 2.5% (n = 28) in the influenza, and 6.0% (n = 27) in the RSV cohort. Patients with Omicron had an adjusted 30-day mortality odds ratio (OR) of 2.36 (95% confidence interval [CI] 1.60–3.62) compared with influenza and 1.42 (95% CI .94–2.21) compared with RSV.

      There are many more studies, if you care to investigate.

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Considering that COVID has mutated into a cold virus with symptoms so mild most people don’t get tested, this is a joke.

      I wish Covid denialists didn’t lie all the time. It’s tiring. The crazy thing is that he can’t possibly have read the post at all; if Taylor Swift and her entire entourage are terrified she’ll catch it, it’s not a “cold virus with symptoms.” Swift’s business people calculated the odds, and the answer they came up with is clearly not what Jack wishes so desperately and fearfully to believe).

      1. chris

        But he’s saying what a lot of people believe. If COVID is so bad, why aren’t we taking it seriously anymore? Therefore, it must be a cold now. These same people ignore that the pressure to minimize the virus and the resulting disease was always there and now we’ve made it very difficult for people to protect themselves in public. It’s a tragic and bizarre cognitive dissonance loop. If COVID was bad, more people would protect themselves from it. No, you’re not allowed to protect yourself from COVID…

        For most exhausted Americans, “living with it” = COVID is a cold. Has to be. Why else would we being saying that if it could result in disability? It’s like that old quip about Satan: “the best trick the devil ever did was convincing people he wasn’t real.” Well, now we’ve managed to convince all the official opinion havers(tm) and talking heads on TV that COVID isn’t real (and inflation too!).

      2. NVC

        I’m high risk, super cautious, and have changed my life considerably to avoid infection, but I found this comment helpful. A lot of people seem to think that way, and this might be the rationale.

        I think the metric he’d need to see would be % bad outcomes vs people infected–which we can’t really tell because no data, but which wastewater numbers and (possibly disingenuous) anecdata suggest *might* be low. The sometimes terrible sequelae of “mild” infection may be sufficiently rare and/or obscured. And it’s too soon to see some of the really bad long-term stuff that could be happening (widespread permanent disability (though that seems to be starting), cardio epidemic, widespread AIDS-like disease etc).

        So to people like Jack, the risk *looks* reasonably small. I disagree, of course, but this makes sense of something I’ve been wondering about.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > I think the metric he’d need to see

          I think his metric — hard though this may be for the NC commentariat to get its collective head around — is what people around him are doing (Keynesian beauty contest; “nobody ever got fired for saying Covid was mild”).

          I have yet to see an account given of how the very notion of public health, in particular non-pharmaceutical interventions during a pandemic, was chewed up and spat out by a meatgrinder of virtually universal social norming, and under a liberal Democrat administration. It’s an enormous and uncovered story, and it doesn’t bode well for democracy at all (though it does, I imagine, for “our democracy”).

    4. ChrisRUEcon

      New here eh?

      Repeating from memory, but feel free to search the web or this site for relevant links on the following:

      COVID is not merely a respiratory virus. That’s just the tip of the iceberg as it were. There are lots of horrible diseases that manifest respiratory symptoms while being capable of far worse harm. COVID is one of those.

      • COVID is a respiratory disease yes, but no one should look at the erstwhile mild symptoms and think they’ve lucked out of harm’s way. COVID infects the epithelial (ciliated) cells that live in the deepest recesses of your nostrils, and unfortunately, that entry point acts like an express elevator to other parts of your body. Wearing a muzzle is still the best way to prevent infection to your epi-cil cells, but nasal sprays also help.
      • COVID is also a vascular disease. The spoke protein present in both the disease and the MRNA vaccine can have adverse effects due to the way it interacts with blood vessels and muscle tissue in the heart – a search for “covid myocarditis spike protein” should suffice here on the search engine of your choice.
      • COVID is a systemic disease – i.e. a disease that can affect multiple organs in the human body. Kidneys and livers are not safe from COVID just because someone has mild respiratory symptoms. A search for “COVID microclots organ damage” will yield good information here. Oh, and by the way, since the brain is also classified as an organ, we can sadly add the bonus here of COVID being a cognitive disability disease.
      • And finally, saving the worst for last, COVID is an immune system dysregulation disease. It still irks me immensely to hear people talk about “immunity” or “endemicity” when the disease in question can debilitate the immune system itself. COVID can disrupt and deplete the quantity of T-Cells. T-Cells are the cells in your body that that play a major part is fighting off infections, and without enough of them, you wouldn’t be able to fight off an otherwise “mild cold”, let alone have cancerous cells in your body garbage collected. Search for “covid t cells”.

      Seriously, whatever your political or personal liberty views are, if you want to emerge from this pandemic with sufficient faculties to enjoy whatever life you think may be ahead of you, believing that “COVID is mild” is a sure way to shortchange yourself on your expectations.

      1. chris

        Fellow Chris, I have no idea when this pandemic will be over, or when we will have the tools necessary to live as people clearly want to live: mask free and care free.

        The current US administration is so concerned about bombing people in far off places that they seem to have halted any progress towards potentially sterilizing vaccines. The therapeutics we have on offer are such that they either have mutagenic effects, wreck your organs, or both! Commercial real estate is so close to collapse that absent a large public investment there is no budget for the massive HVAC upgrades needed to make buildings safer. Good masks are harder to get now. Our health care leaders and hospitals appear to be fighting over ways to kill more of their staff and patients. It’s a mad mad mad world out there.

        I feel like unless and until we see direct effects on the MIC or several congresscritters fall over dead from symptoms that people can’t say they died “with” covid, we are not going to do what has to happen to manage this disaster. I believe that will be after we have lost millions of people to covid deaths in the US. Sometimes near the end of the next term for whichever dodering old fool we elect this November.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > mask free and care free.

          Cleaning the air is the only real solution. The rich know that, which is why they do it for themselves (and I could have pointed this out for both Swift and Adele, but I got caught up in the detail of the music business (not such a bad thing for future posts)).

          > they seem to have halted any progress towards potentially sterilizing vaccines.

          There are two tracks for this one for nasal vaccines (several), the other for “universal” coronavirus vaccines (i.e., not just Covid; I think two. This is the approach Topol was hopeful about). Hilda Bastian tracks this; I have the link but could not get to it in today’s Water Cooler. Of course, the molasses-brained and genocidal Biden Administration hasn’t given these efforts the OWS treatment, as they obviously should have done, if public health was a consideration for them.

          Even trolls have a value, if they provoke such reasoned responses!

    5. redleg

      You’ve clearly never sang on stage before, let alone tried it night after night for weeks at a time. Let me explain: trying to perform with a cold usually makes for a poor performance. Going on stage with a high fever makes both the performer and the audience regret going to the show. Performing with an illness such as Covid that affects breathing and induces fatigue is impossible. Then there’s the effects of illness on rehearsal time (these big shows involve weeks to months of rehearsals) and the long-term effects on the body, especially vocal cords.
      Further, if the promoter or the artist wants to require masks as a condition of the performance contract, that’s their prerogative. If you don’t want to wear one, stay home.

  8. Lambert Strether Post author

    On Kiss, this: KISS took Vancouver firm’s treatment to avoid COVID and cancelling world tour: manager Vancouver Sun:

    Members of the band KISS used a little-known treatment created by a Vancouver biomedical company to avoid getting COVID-19 and cancelling their farewell world tour after lead singer Paul Stanley tested positive for the virus, their manager says.

    “I started this with the rock band KISS when Paul Stanley became infected with the coronavirus in Pittsburgh on our tour. I had nowhere to turn. I called some friends of mine in Los Angeles in infectious disease. Nobody had an answer. Nobody had any idea what to do, except to call this company in Canada,” manager Doc McGhee said Monday at a news conference in Toronto.

    “Without this, we wouldn’t be on the road. We couldn’t have done the extra 100 shows that we just did.”

    The company McGhee called was Vancouver-based Ondine Biomedical, which created Steriwave, a technology that involves putting a disinfecting liquid into the nose and then activating it with lights attached to probes to kill viruses lurking in the respiratory system.

    It has been used by Vancouver General Hospital to reduce infections in surgery patients for more than 11 years. A study released last Thursday showed the use of this “nasal photodisinfection” at Ottawa Hospital reduced the length of patients’ hospital stays, readmissions and antibiotic use.

    We linked to this contemparaneosly. Not sure why Steriwave isn’t used a lot more.

  9. Skyler

    Great research! More on this ongoing pandemic, please.

    (53 months, and years, covid-free, as I remain vaccine-free, and of course human interaction-free.)

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