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It’s all about the data, stupid …

The following MBW statement is from Mark Davyd, CEO of the UK’s Music Venue Trust, who urges the live music industry to rely on data rather than listen to the pessimism of some in their reopening plans later this year. His comments come after the UK government announced this week a phased strategy that, as of today, involves reopening nightclubs and returning major music venues to the UK with no audience restrictions on June 21st.


After the British government in Great Britain gave us a so-called “roadmap” to a kind of normality, it is worthwhile to take a break and consider the basis on which these forecasts are made.

We at Music Venue Trust have always advocated a data-driven approach to addressing this crisis and we took proactive steps in early February to support this by creating our own vaccination progress calculator.

Based on data published daily by the NHS and the government, this calculator provides information on the number of vaccinations given, the type, who received them and where. It also includes details of rapid tests, infections, hospitalizations, and deaths per day.

We have compiled all of this data to create a timetable for when vaccination of different parts of the UK population would reach a range of immunity levels that show decreased mortality, illness and hospitalization.

By analyzing this data, we were able to create predictive data that would enable us to imagine various levels of society returning to normal under safe conditions.

“The data that our vaccination calculator extrapolated exactly reflects the data that the government announced this week as the roadmap for reopening.”

For the purposes of this exercise, “safe” has the specific meaning that there is no additional risk of death, hospitalization, or serious illness beyond what society already accepts as part of normal life. We have based this risk standard on the value that society wants to live with due to annual influenza, SARs or so-called “bird flu”.

The data that our vaccination calculator extrapolated exactly reflects the data that the government announced this week as the roadmap for reopening.

All of this, the data and the data, ties in with the Swiss cheese model of risk mitigation – that you’re not just using a simple risk mitigation process to manage a risk like COVID-19. Instead, they offer various options, vaccinations, rapid tests, ventilation and cleaning, deep cleaning and antiviral coatings to create safe events.

This is nothing new in our industry: Whether we knew it or not, we have been operating Swiss cheese models of risk management for decades on topics such as entry criteria, crowd safety and noise management.

To overlay these levels of risk mitigation we need to look at the data. The data can help you learn what mitigation works, what the current state of affairs is, and then predict exactly how this will be resolved and when it might happen.

Our vaccine calculator allows us to do this and enter negative factors like a drop in vaccination rates, slow absorption, vaccination resistance, etc.

It’s all about data.

Some in the music industry expressed disappointingly negatives about the live business outlook in 2021 based on speculation, wild guesswork, and their personal experience of the crisis. What they didn’t do is read the data.

That still happens.

Negative reactions to the schedule announced by the UK government this week are based on previous errors in lockdowns or risk mitigation measures. Basically, some people have failed to take into account that we now have highly effective vaccines and immediately imagine that we will repeat previous mistakes.

We can learn from this crisis by examining the data.

The UK’s experience of this crisis is an example of what every music industry around the world must do to be safe in its own sectors.

Don’t read the papers, don’t listen to the speeches, don’t do the endless doom scrolling and speculation.

Get the data, analyze the data, consider the results. You have taken a well-founded, data-driven, public position.

Again, this is not just true of the UK. Any country in the world can use the population specific data to get the live music industry going again.

“As an industry that prides itself on being experts at using data to make decisions, it is frankly bizarre that our approach to this virus has been so speculatively driven.”

We know more about this virus than we did in March 2020. We know how it is transmitted, we know the risk factors, we know the ways to manage these things. And we have effective vaccines that reduce these risks to the point where they can be managed. We need to use the data to outline these challenges and opportunities and establish our own roadmap.

As an industry that prides itself on being experts at using data to make decisions, it is frankly bizarre that our approach to this virus has been so speculatively driven.

With the help of data, we can now figure out where artists should tour, we know how to maximize playlists, and how to engage our audiences on social media.

We should use these skills to create a roadmap on how to revive Live and safely reopen each venue.Music business worldwide


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