Remember the days of dancing shoulder to shoulder in a crowded room, only being able to hear the performer on stage. Alcohol spews throughout the audience. People are creating a mosh-pit with their sweaty bodies, but for some reason, you’re excited about it. Tickets range from $10 to more than $300. As for right now, that all seems like a thing of the past.
Since March, the majority of music industry workers have lost around 75 percent of their income. Over the course of the pandemic, other industries have been able to re-open with help, only to shut down again during the second wave of a rise in Covid cases. Unfortunately for music venues and artists, there wasn’t much of a re-open, if any, before the second wave.
The Music Industry Alliance surveyed around 300 musicians and DJs and confirmed that over four months without federal aid has created a financial catastrophe for most. According to the survey, respondents lost a combined estimated total of $8.5 million since March.
“The first round of pandemic relief helped us stay afloat but those resources have been depleted and we’re digging ourselves in a hole,” said one respondent.
“The W2 income overrode the private contractor information so I’ve been getting the equivalent of 15 percent of my income from unemployment. That’s not close to enough to live on,” explained another interviewee.
It’s hard to imagine a concert where no one has to wear a mask and everyone is standing less than six feet apart with a highly contagious virus in our midst. For many performers and venue owners/workers, those concerts were their only source of income.
There have been many attempts over the months to get better economic relief, but they have yet to see some real impacts. The National Independent Venue Association created the Save Our Stages Act. So far, they have made little progress, with only some additional packages of relief to the industry.
In April, the Artist Relief Survey was conducted and estimated that artists had already lost a cumulative total of around $30,000. On Dec. 26, many benefits are being cut, including extensions to Covid relief unemployment.
The MWA hosted a Town Hall Meeting via Zoom Dec. 17 for New York City and state officials to express the need to be on the table for the 2021 re-opening planning.
We lost a big opportunity last Summer and early Fall. We can’t let this happen next time. Music performance continued unabated in parks and on street corners. But the City and State policies killed music workers’ ability to earn a living, and the opportunity to create a SAFE, well regulated re-opening when and where it was medically possible to do so. Independent music workers need a voice in designing a safe re-opening plan when that becomes possible.MWA Spokesperson Marc Ribot