Unless you’ve been living in outer space, many galaxies away, it should not be news that live entertainment and events as we knew it, have come to a complete halt in the wake of the global COVID-19 pandemic!
What does that really mean and who’s being impacted?
People might argue that the pandemic has had an impact on everyone, in almost every area. But while other areas, such as retail shops, restaurants, and bars have been able to reopen; albeit to smaller capacities, live concerts have been left out of that opportunity.
Maybe to the fans, live concerts is just about entertainment. But live entertainment is an industry; it’s a business. And when a business is forced to close and not be able to take in any revenue for over five months, (and counting)…then everyone affiliated with that business will not only lose their jobs, but that loss creates a devastating ripple effect on the community and economy around it.
It might be easy for some to think only about the big headlining artists they’re familiar with; those who tour in arenas and stadiums, who have made millions of dollars over the years. It would be easy to think they’re fine through all of this, and move on. The truth of the matter is that there are far more young, up and coming, and still establishing artists in the industry than there are “A-listers.” Also, live entertainment employs hundreds of thousands of people who never take the stage to sing or play for the audience. They are the people who work backstage, side stage, and behind the scene to make that show happen. When an artist can’t perform; can’t tour, then that ripple starts with the artist’s payroll — no commissions to be made by their agent, personal manager, or business manager (which then creates a financial shortfall within each of those offices; resulting in the need to let some employees go) — and then it goes much deeper. If the artist isn’t on the road, then neither are their road crews – the band and background singers, the tour manager and production people, and everyone else whose livelihood relies on artists being on the road; such as tour bus companies, trucking companies that transport the artist’ production, pre-tour production people who create the stages and design the sets the artist takes out on the road, and many others.
When live shows aren’t happening, the promoters, who make their money from selling tickets to those shows, aren’t making any revenue. And just like with the artist’s team, the promoter must now make hard decisions of letting people from their own companies go, in addition to money not being spent with vendors who supply sound and lights; or with live event marketing companies who help to promote the show. There’s no money feeding into the local media markets.
Then there’s the direct impact on the concert venues themselves. Small, medium and large clubs, theaters, and arenas have mostly been closed to concerts, resulting in massive layoffs, and buildings sitting empty. Local production people, venue staff, ticket takers, ushers, and concession vendors and workers — are all without the ability to earn their pay check.
The list of the enormous impact of the domino effect from there being no live shows, with no end in sight, is much bigger than can be stated here. But one thing for sure…thousands of artists, musicians, management companies, booking agencies, venue staff, promoters, and road crew people are out of work. And unemployment checks alone, for those who even qualify, isn’t enough.
One such person, whose band was directly impacted by the stop play of 2020 is Katy Bishop DuBois, a former music business student of mine (one of many of my former students who are now having to adjust to their life to their new normal). Her band Maybe April was just taking off, with a new album and tour, when live music stopped. Suddenly, they had shows cancelled, which meant no income.
So when music provides your paycheck, then what pays your rent when the music is gone? And what do you do in the meantime?
Let me let Katy tell you her story and share what she’s been up to since the spring.
For information on how YOU can help the live entertainment industry, check out these websites:
#SaveOurStages #SaveOurStagesAct #NationalIndependentVenueAssociation. #RestartAct #MaskNowPartyLater #MusicPaysMyRent #NewNormal #CatchingRaindropsinWaterBuckets
NOTE: This video interview was done in May 2020, before the US started experiencing a dramatic increase in Coronavirus cases and deaths; further extending the delay of the return to the reopening of live venues. All major music festivals and tours that had been rescheduled for Fall 2020 have been moved to 2021.