Some industry observers would say the core issue with live music is the coronavirus, which has killed hundreds of thousands of people and infected millions across the globe. However, according to Shawn Krauel, the CEO of the Central Florida Fair and Orlando Amphitheater, the main issue is “cancel culture”, as he told Pollstar
(emphasis as always mine):
But right now it’s about perception in our industry/world. Drive-in shows have been happening across the country – social media doesn’t go crazy cancel culture for it, artists don’t get put on TV or Instagram bashing them for hosting those shows…There are ways to host shows right now cause we have the same risk you take going into Walmart/Home Depot on a Saturday if you’re looking at capacity standpoint – just have to get past the perception that Venues can’t safely do shows!
Perception! It’s all in our heads! While the head of major music venues is just trying to think away coronavirus, others are mobilizing for government relief and support without needlessly putting their peers in danger.
The National Independent Venues Association that got started earlier this year has quickly been able to rally and create the Save Our Stages act,
a $10 billion bipartisan (!) bill that would go towards helping sustain live music venues. While the American Federation of Musicians has given a voice to other entertainment union demands on the government, the Save Our Stages act is the most specific demand articulated by a music organization in the United States. In other countries like France
and the United Kingdom
, there’s a familiar refrain that the government isn’t doing enough to support live music and that unless the government steps up, it’ll be ruinous for these industries.
Without an ability to see into the future and know the trajectory of the coronavirus, it’s unnecessary to try to predict the return of live music. Still, the recklessness of some live events and increasingly fragmented semi-return of concerts
will likely make the return of live music even more muddled. This moment of crisis shows us that Live Nation is eyeing contracts
to put more liability onto artists for whenever normal concerts do return, despite its still fresh $500 million investment from Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund.
At the moment, Even a number of entertainment unions
are seeing financial strains
on their funds to help provide health insurance for working artists. This would explain why across the globe live entertainment industries are desperately asking for government assistance through this pandemic. If venues cannot fully open, and more importantly if folks aren’t going back to spaces they know to be potentially unsafe, it’s out of their hands, or the market’s, to make this work. The rest of the year will be seeing how, or if, the government responds to a crisis that’s right in their footsteps.