The city of Austin has canceled its annual South By Southwest music, film and technology festival due to concerns over the ongoing spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, which has now infected more than 100,000 worldwide and left over 3,000 dead.
The festival, which was scheduled to begin this Friday (March 13th), was facing a rising tide of cancellations from artists such as Trent Reznor and Ozzy Osbourne, as well as major companies like Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Twitter and others. The three major record label groups were reportedly on the verge of pulling out as well.
With hundreds of thousands of attendees expected from around the world, SXSW’s cancellation is the largest single blow to the festival and live music industry since the virus outbreak started in China and spread around the globe. Austin Mayor Steve Adler declared a state of disaster on Friday (March 6th), with the city potentially facing a loss of more than $300 million from the festival's cancellation.
The festival issued a statement on Twitter, saying, “This is the first time in 34 years that the March event will not take place . . . We are committed to do our part to protect our staff, attendees and fellow Austinites.”
Until this past week, the virus had mainly impacted the live scene in Europe and Asia. But with rising infection and death counts in the United States, the American industry has begun to see the effects. Miami's Ultra Music Festival was indefinitely postponed on Friday while other events and tours were assessing the situation.