by Aidan Trump ’21
Nearly all businesses have felt the effects of Covid-19, but very few have been hit as hard as independent music venues that are struggling to make ends meet. Live music venues have been closed since March. This lack of business means that venues have been relying on cash reserves and won’t be able to cover operating costs, salaries, and rent for much longer. Unlike other businesses, there have been no stimulus packages or government bailouts given to venues thus far. According to the National Independent Venue Association (NIVA), without government assistance 90 percent of all independent concert venues may shut down permanently. Luckily there is hope for live music in the form of the Save our Stages Act.
The Save our Stages Act was first introduced to the Senate on July 22 by Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar and Republican Senator John Cornyn. Save our Stages includes $10 billion worth of small business administration grants for payroll benefits, rent, and utilities. These grants afford six months of much needed financial aid to venues. For every $1 spent on a concert ticket $12 is generated for local restaurants, hotels, and transportation further boosting the local economy. Recently, provisions from the Save our Stages Act have been added to the Heroes Act, and are currently being debated in Congress. If passed, the Heroes Act would be the largest relief bill in U.S. history and could potentially save hundreds of thousands of jobs.
While federal grants would be a lifeline for music venues, in reality, depending on the spread of Covid-19, it may be a long time until people can enjoy in-person live music. Merriweather Post Pavilion has canceled all 2020 shows, moving them to the summer of 2021. Even if there are concerts next summer, there surely will be restrictions about the capacity of those in attendance. Be that as it may, just because in-person shows are not an option does not mean there is no live entertainment. Virtual concerts have become ever more present, with artists such as Billie Eilish, Niall Horan, and Hamilton Leithauser offering virtual concerts in which viewers will pay a fee to gain access to their stream. Popular music festivals like the 2020 iHeart Country festival and Bonnaroo will also offer virtual content.
While virtual concerts offer great entertainment considering the circumstances, the goal is to eventually transition back to live in-person concerts. That will only happen when health officials warrant it safe to do so. Once we reach a point of normalcy when gatherings are deemed safe, there may not be many music venues to return to if the provisions from Save our Stages Act’s have not been passed. You can visit https://www.nivassoc.org/take-action to contact your legislator and implore them to save our live music venues.