Today in Events: LG Pulls Out of Mobile World Congress Over Coronavirus Fears, Google Launches Startup Targeting Live-Event Ticketing, Growing Costs Threaten Street Festivals

1. LG PULLS OUT OF MOBILE WORLD CONGRESS OVER CORONAVIRUS FEARS: South Korean electronics giant LG will not participate in this year’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, which is slated to start February 24, over fears of the spread of the deadly coronavirus. Organizers say they will not cancel the show, one of the premiere events for the tech industry globally, but they have instituted a “no handshake” advisory to attendees and exhibitors and promised increased cleaning and disinfection of the venue. BBC: “Telecommunications trade body the GSMA, MWC's organisers, said of the virus yesterday: ‘There is minimal impact on the event thus far.’ However, within hours, LG announced it was pulling out. ‘With the safety of its employees and general public foremost in mind, LG has decided to withdraw from exhibiting and participating in MWC 2020 later this month in Barcelona, Spain,’ LG said in a statement. ‘This decision will prevent needlessly exposing hundreds of LG employees to international travel, which most health experts have advised.’ The firm added that it would hold ‘separate events in the near future’ instead.”

2. GOOGLE LAUNCHES STARTUP TARGETING LIVE-EVENT TICKETING: Google announced the launch of Demand, a startup that will use data to advise live music events on where to host shows, what to charge, and find popular opening acts in particular markets, among other services. Forbes: “The free product, launched today at the Pollstar Live! conference in Beverly Hills, relies on Google’s search data and music-fan usage of its YouTube and Google Play services. The service tracks fan support, ticket pricing, and demand for more than 19,000 artists in 210 U.S. metropolitan areas. … And though Demand is initially targeting the live-music space, Turner and Vaish said it may have powerful applications for other kinds of live events, such as esports and videogaming, and may be applicable even further afield, in areas such as travel and health care.”

3. GROWING COSTS THREATEN STREET FESTIVALS: Organizers of street festivals are feeling the financial crunch—and even folding longtime events—as they face mounting costs of security following mass shootings that targeted public gatherings. Pioneer Press: “Events that got by for years hiring off-duty St. Paul police officers as independent security contractors are now required to funnel requests through the St. Paul Police Department, which approves security plans and sets staffing expectations. The changes apply to any event drawing 1,000 or more people to city streets and parks.” Steve Heckler, board chair of the St. Paul Festival Association and producer of the Twin Cities Jazz Festival and the Lowertown Blues & Funk Fest, said that “In his 22 years of planning the music festivals, he said prices for staging and production have gone up incrementally, but he estimates that costs from the city have more than tripled.”