• Michael Smyth

An Encore for Live Music Venues

Amid the Coronavirus pandemic, many independent live music venues have been forced to shut down on a global scale, as they are unable to earn any form of income due to social distancing measures and government restrictions that have been implemented to stop the spread of the virus. A new pressing question that has been raised in conjunction with this is, what will be the effect of this on the music industry?

The problem being faced is that governments around the world are not able to provide enough financial aid to assist these independent venues, which leaves them with no other choice but to close. According to Chris William, “In a survey of independent concert venue owners in America, 90% said that they expect to shut down permanently in a few months if no federal funding becomes available.” This is the new reality and it is a problem the whole world faces (except for countries like New Zealand, which have successfully eradicated the virus within their borders).

This is a tough pill to swallow as many up and coming artists rely on these venues to help gain clout in the industry as well as provide them with income for essential needs. These venues also generally have lower ticket pricings, which allows the community to enjoy local or international talent without having to pay hefty prices. Not only that, there are many people who work behind the scenes, which allow for a momentous musical showcase.

The United Kingdom and the United States of America are considered to be the epicentres of the music industry and their independent live venues play an integral role. If a substantial amount of venues close down, this could set the music industry back by many years. However, not all hope is lost, “the Music Venue Trust launch the Save Our Venues campaign, with a crowdfunding bid to prevent 556 independent UK venues from closure. A few have already been saved, but there is still a long way to go.”

Many musicians, who have made names for themselves through independent small venues, have tried to raise money and awareness to help save these venues along with #letlivemusicplay. They have also hosted live shows with an option to donate to these venues as well as share their experiences of being a young artist – gaining success because of these venues – to promote more people to help out if they can.

What does this mean for new musicians and independent venues? Well, they work interdependently and rely on each other to survive financially and make a name for themselves. The only way to earn money, for both, is through digital means. This has already been flooded with thousands of artists opting for this route, or venues attempting to host live shows online. The music industry is the most competitive it has ever been during these times.

The harsh reality is that some independent live venues will have their final ‘encore’ and will not be able to reopen again. It is sad because thousands of people will be losing their main source of income. The entertainment industry is one of the hardest hit by the effects of the virus and it will take a lot of willpower to bounce back.

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