Music venues were one of the first businesses severely affected by the coronavirus pandemic in March, with large crowds were considered the fastest and most susceptible ways to spread and contract COVID-19. Shortly after, hundreds of artists — including Louis Tomlinson, Guns N Roses, and Billie Eilish — canceled or postponed their 2020 tours, and music venues were forced to close to stop the spread of the contagious virus.
Now, five months later, these venues are trying to stay afloat financially while bans of large groups are still in place across America and the world. The entertainment industry is projected to lose $160 billion of growth in five years from the financial burden of the pandemic. From GoFundMe to petitions to trending hashtags, venues and artists are attempting to get aid for the entertainment business before the virus permanently closes venues’ doors.
Artists such as Kacey Musgraves, Coldplay, and Lady Gaga called upon Congress in June to support NIVA (National Independent Venue Association), asking for assistance from the government to support independent music venues across America in the fear that they will never reopen again if assistance isn’t provided. Their letter stated, “We are asking you to support NIVA’s request for assistance so these beloved venues can reopen when it’s safe and welcome us and our fans back in. The collapse of this crucial element in the music industry’s ecosystem would be devastating.” It ends with hundreds of signatures from award-winning musicians across the globe and #SaveOurStages.
600 artists have called on Congress to help save independent music venues in a new letter, including Lady Gaga, André 3000, David Byrne, Kacey Musgraves and more: https://t.co/YbRgJtrTTk pic.twitter.com/ei6rrzi08m
— Consequence of Sound (@consequence) June 19, 2020
Arctic Monkey’s frontman, Alex Turner, raffled off his Fender guitar to help out local, independent music venues in his hometown of Sheffield, specifically Leadmill, a venue he performed at during Arctic Monkey’s early stages. Independent venues have been affected the worst after the pandemic stopped concerts, and funds raised will go towards The Music Venue Trust to support places like the Leadmill.
Music venues across the globe are also transforming their space to be used in other ways besides live music performances. Village Underground in London has opened their doors as a temporary place for commuters to store their bikes safely for a charge of £5. They also offer hourly rates as well as a bar area with beer, wines, and spirits for cyclists to take home. In Utah, venues like Kilby Court are considering loaning their space to local bands who need a place to rehearse and perfect their sound for when the doors reopen. The Wiltern, a world-class venue in Los Angeles, is using their classic signage to display an announcement or important message, like an engagement or graduation.
World-renowned historic venue in Nashville, The Ryman Auditorium, has seen a major impact from the coronavirus. The auditorium hasn’t had a crowd since March, and with fear of closing their doors permanently, they were able to reopen for self-guided tours as well as live-streamed concerts music lovers can enjoy from their home. Live-streamed shows began August 14 with Grammy award-winning pop duo, For KING & COUNTRY, and continue through September with well-known artists like CAM and Brett Young. Tickets are available now, along with VIP packages, which include merchandise, and, at a higher cost, a virtual Q&A and autographed Hatch Print.
While venues are opening their doors to other businesses to stay afloat financially, one festival-sized venue in England, Virgin Money Unity Arena, did not let the pandemic affect their finances or let live music die. The new socially distanced venue was established in Newcastle and hosted its first concert with a performance by Sam Fender.
The UK’s first socially distanced gig is happening now in Newcastle with @samfendermusic headlining, and where attendees have their own private viewing area with 2m of space between them. Here’s what it looks like #samfender #unityarena pic.twitter.com/YBdxpAjYyi
— Kieron Donoghue (@kierondonoghue) August 11, 2020
It’s a quick glimpse into a ray of hope for the music industry and what’s to come for musicians, music lovers, and venue workers across the globe. The sold-out crowd of 2,500 on raised platforms in groups of five followed all rules and regulations — one-way aisles, two-meters apart and masks — to keep everyone distanced and safe.
No, Smh. Those platforms do not look 6 ft apart and more importantly no one looks like they are wearing a mask. This is ridiculous
— Allison♓✨ (@AllieK02) August 13, 2020
While many weren’t pleased with the “socially distanced” venue, many were relieved to have one venue they can attend for a few hours of relief through a concert.
Artists such as The Libertines and Van Morrison are scheduled to take the stage throughout the months of August and September.