It's been nearly seven weeks since Covid-19 put the stop to SXSW, Coachella, Stagecoach, and EDC, just to name a few of familiar major events that were either postponed or completely canceled. Although these major events have been affected, it is safe to say that these organizations will continue to move on through this crisis “unscathed”, but what the media isn’t telling us is how much this crisis is affecting the local music scene. Some of our favorite local hot spots in Los Angeles are getting hit the hardest during this crisis and Federal, State, and Local governments aren’t doing much to help them. Utility companies, bill collectors, and lenders continue to demand payments as “business as usual”. If you watch television media, the talk of small business loans offered to companies in trouble seem like everyone is getting taken care of, but the truth is very few venues are actually getting the aide they need to reopen. There hasn't been a lot of relief to continue to pay their employees as proposed in the SBA Disaster Assistance Program in response to the Coronavirus. As more funding is released, these loans quickly dry up and many businesses are left with their hands up in confusion of what to do next. In some areas, City officials are easing up restrictions on closed business and can allow up to 25 percent occupancy, but what does 25% do for revenue? ...not much. Until businesses can reopen to full capacity many will stay closed and may never reopen. Some businesses are even reopening to full capacity regardless of restriction, because they don't want to see their their employees suffer. Some say, "Enough is enough".
For the famous Hollywood record store, Amoeba Music won’t be reopening at its current location on Sunset Blvd and will be reopening at its new location in the Fall. Even after generating over $230,000 on their GoFundme campaign, the money received isn’t enough to stay in their historic location. For nearly 20 years, Amoeba Music has been an iconic part of Los Angeles as the last big record store to survive the digital age. It’s a shame to see it move to another location and to see the Berkeley location closed indefinitely. “We have weathered many storms-911, recessions, the Internet, downloading and streaming. But we don’t know that we can weather the COVID-19 storm” - Marc Weinstein and Dave Prinz
THE EFFECTS ON THE MUSIC ARTIST
It was already difficult to be an independent artist prior to the coronavirus outbreak, then everything deemed non-essential was shut down. This meant touring artists could not make money selling merchandise and couldn’t connect with potential new fans. For artists Ships Have Sailed and Quitting Whitney, the coronavirus put the breaks on their tour as they were near the end of their cross-country tour. With only two cities left to perform on their schedule, the news came that all businesses with gatherings with more than 10 people were forced to shut down. “While this is heartbreaking, we also want to emphasize that the health of our fellow human beings is the most important thing right now. At the moment we’re trying to figure out our next steps…” - Will Carpenter of Ships Have Sailed. KGUP had purchased tickets to see Ships Have Sailed, Quitting Whitney0, and FNTN at their final show of their tour in March, but Troubadour was one of the many venues that shut their doors. Thankfully, Troubadour has agreed to postpone this show until the Fall.
For Jaguar Jonze, she got more than just a canceled tour. KGUP was on schedule to watch Jaguar Jonze perform at The Satellite on March 23rd, but after her show in New York City, she not only had to return home midway through her tour, she also found out that she tested positive for covid-19. “I followed everything by the book to protect myself and I still caught it,” Jaguar Jonze. “This virus can happen to anyone.” Jaguar has since recovered from covid-19 and is doing much better, in fact, she has had a lot of attention from the release of her new EP, Diamonds & Liquid Gold. Like Jaguar Jonze, many artists are taking their shows to Instagram and Zoom and it is raising a lot of attention for many local artists. Most recently, KGUP favorites Lee Brown and Julian De Vizio hosted a full-band streaming performance from the Sparam Entertainment Studio (socially distant of course). Other artists like FNTN, Holander, Heather Cole, Michelle Young of Rove.LA, Sad Alex, Glitter, Molly Moore, VTorres, Beck Pete, Trapdoor Social, joan, Elise Trouw, Broken Baby, and so many more KGUP artists have been active on Social Media hosting live streaming shows each and every week. Organizations like Stageit are teaming up with local venues like The Hotel Cafe and others are streaming live music festivals with dozens of music artists around the world. Promoters like Rove.LA, Sparam Entertainment, and a number of organizations are hosting similar online events to keep the music flowing and help us stay entertained while we are all stuck at home.
“Imagine planning for 6 months, working hard and saving money, funding vehicle rentals, overnight stays, paying your band members, and purchasing PR for a 3 week tour only to watch that evaporate.” - Aimie Lovett Sommer and Rose Shawhan of Softer Sex Productions. “We’ve been trying to keep participating in the community in whatever ways we can. Sharing people’s releases, live streams, playlists, whatever on our social media.” Although many Thankfully, Aimie has been gainfully employed throughout this entire crisis as a Nurse and Rose works in the TV and Film industry and is collecting unemployment.
There’s a lot of disappointment when canceling shows, says Aimie. “We have friends whose full time job is live music, either promoting, or doing lighting and sound, as well as musicians for hire. Their ability to earn income has pretty much been obliterated for the foreseeable future. A number of artists in our community have been releasing music during this time, and I’ve been impressed to see how creatively some of them are approaching that in spite of the challenges.”
SAVING OUR LOCAL VENUES
On April 22, the National Independent Venue Association (NIVA) made an appeal to Washington to save local venues. "We aren’t just people who sell tickets; we are people who develop community in each city. We are people that, if it wasn’t for our venues that existed, in many cases you wouldn’t have bars, restaurants, and coffee shops around us and you wouldn’t necessarily have the same existence of people who visit a city... People visit our cities and come visit us because of the artists and the shows that we do, and help cities kind of grow together." - Gary Witt, Pabst Theater Group
In a letter to congress, NIVA’s members consisting of 800 of the most influential independent music venues and promoters across 49 states have teamed up to seek legislative and regulatory assistance by proposing solutions to address the unique and dire situation facing the industry. “Because of our unprecedented, tenuous position, for the first time in history, there is legitimate fear for our collective existence.” - Dayna Frank, NIVA Board President and owner of First Avenue in Minneapolis.
As a collective, the live music scene brings in nearly $10 billion in revenue into local communities. These live music venues play an important role in the economic ecosystem, without it, many artists are feeling the financial impact of this crisis and will struggle to keep creating music and many may even become homeless as a result.
ASSISTANCE FOR MUSICIANS AND MUSIC PROFESSIONALS
The Musicians Foundation is offering “modest” one-time grants of $200 to applicants. However, they exceeded the number of applications they can support and the portal has been temporarily closed until they receive more funding.
MusiCares Relief Under the $2 trillion relief package, self-employed musicians, music creators, and music support crew who make under $100,000 annually are eligible to apply for relief grants and loans such as Emergency Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) grants.
The package gives an additional $75 million to the National Endowment for the Arts, an independent federal agency that provides grants to state arts agencies, local leaders, and other federal agencies to promote the arts. Under sections of the stimulus bill some self-employed music creators may be able to file for unemployment benefits, depending on the state. New unemployment benefits offer $600 a week for four months. Grant assistance for basic living can be made up to $1,000. Qualifying professionals must show proof of canceled gigs. For more information, go to: https://covid-19-relief.recordingacademy.com/ and grammy.com/musicares/get-help/musicares-coronavirus-relief-fund. Grand Ole Opry trust fund offers aid to music industry employees “in time of extraordinary need.” Funds assist medical bills, living expenses, rent or mortgage and utilities. The fund accepts referrals from Opry members and other organizations, such as MusicCares. Music Health Alliance launched a grant application process for industry professionals in difficult times due to the Coronavirus. Sweet Relief Covid-19 Fund If you’re a musician or a music industry worker impacted by Covid-19 and you’ve been burdened by medical and financial debt and you’re struggling to make ends meet, Sweet Relief may be able to help. American Guild of Musical Artists Relief Fund Any AGMA member in good standing is invited to apply for financial assistance under the AGMA Relief Fund, which has temporarily doubled the amount of assistance available to those in need during the coronavirus pandemic. AudioAssemble.com has put together a list of online remote opportunities for musicians that are available for U.S.-based musicians during the COVID-19 outbreak. Their financial resources page has short-term and long-term job opportunities, as well as governmental resources to help musicians generate revenue. Check out their growing list here. Blues Foundation HART Fund The HART Fund helps under-insured or uninsured blues musicians and their families in financial need due to a range of health concerns.Cerf+ Emergency Grants A grant for artists who have recently experienced a recent, career threatening emergency, such as an illness, accident, fire or natural disaster. Grants related to the COVID-19 outbreak will focus on those infected with the virus that require intensive medical care. COVID-19 Small Business Guidance & Loan Resources Federal level advice and information for small business owners. Dramatists Guild Foundation Emergency Grant Emergency Grant for Playwrights, Composers, Lyricists, and Book Writers. Equal Sound Musician’s Coronavirus Relief Fund A relief fund for musicians who have lost income due to a cancelled gig as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. Facebook Small Business Grants Program Facebook is offering $100 million in cash grants and ad credits for up to 30,000 eligible small businesses around the world, including music and live events businesses. More details to come (you can sign up for updates here). Foundation for Contemporary Arts COVID-19 Relief Fund The Foundation will disburse $1,000 grants to artists who have had performances or exhibitions canceled or postponed because of the COVID-19 virus. The Haven Foundation Grant The Haven Foundation offers interim financial assistance to freelance professionals in the arts who face crises. Its awards are granted with a view to helping individuals overcome temporary adversity and return to full-time work. H.E.L.P Navigating Unemployment during COVID-19 Free legal webinar series by Public Counsel/Legendary Entertainment, made for Californians. Jazz Foundation of America Musicians’ Emergency Fund This fund offers financial support, housing assistance and pro bono medical care for musicians who have made a living playing blues, jazz, and roots music. Missed Tour Artists and bands who have been displaced from touring due to the pandemic can list their merchandise on this site to help offset lost revenue – with zero charges or fees. Apply to be added to the site here. Musician Foundation Grants Emergency Grant for Musicians. Patreon Artist Fund A grant from Patreon to support artists affected by COVID-19. Award amounts are not specified. Small Business Association Disaster Loans The US Small Business Association provides low-interest disaster loans to businesses of all sizes, private non-profit organizations, homeowners, and renters. Small Business Administration Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program Specifically for individuals who operate as sole proprietors or independent contractors. Sound Royalties Music finance firm allocating $20 million towards no-cost royalty advances through April 16. Songwriters, performing artists, producers and other creators with royalty income can apply for cash advances on a one-year repayment schedule, cost-free. Soze Artist + Activist Relief Fund A $50,000 fund making $250 – $750 grants to artists and activists whose work has been impacted by COVID-19. Sundance Institute COVID-19 Respond and Reimagine Plan Emergency Relief for independent artists. Tour Support is offering independent touring contractors whose tours have been postponed or cancelled one month of free online therapy through Better Help (apply here). TV Academy Members For the benefit of its members who are being impacted by the current situation, the TV Academy has collected links to some of the resources that may be of assistance. Viral Music – Because Kindness is Contagious Independent musicians are invited to use this more than 21,000-member Facebook support group to connect with music fans. “Use this joint to post links to your merch store, online shows, Patreon, or online music lessons,” organizers write. “If you’ve had a gig canceled, post the city and your Venmo/PayPal – many of us would love to pass along our ticket refunds to you.” Wefunder Coronavirus Crisis Loans A loan to help small businesses get access to the cash they urgently need to survive the months ahead. These loans can be crowdfunded by customers, friends and family, and Wefunder investors, with repayments deferred until 2021 and based on revenue. WomenArts Emergency Funds A list of emergency funds for artists and arts organizations of all disciplines. NATIONAL MENTAL HEALTH RESOURCES FOR ARTISTS A Mental Health Guide to Virus Anxiety Resources for anxiety and your mental health in a global climate of uncertainty. Anxiety and Depression Association of America’s Tips and Resources for Coronavirus Anxiety provides helpful tips and strategies from mental health professionals to help those struggling with anxiety around the coronavirus or with general health anxiety concerns. Music Industry Therapists & Coaches has published a comprehensive guide for coping during the COVID-19 outbreak. The FREE ebook offers advice on recognizing and relieving anxiety, reducing panic attacks, calming anxious children and working from home. WHO Mental Health Considerations During COVID-19 Outbreak The World Health Organization’s guide to managing stress and anxiety in the wake of COVID-19. LOS ANGELES-BASED RESOURCES Arts Emergency Relief Fund Up to $400 for artists / $1,200 for ensembles to cover losses in time and/ or materials that were committed toward events, which were to have taken place at a venue within the City of Los Angeles and were to be open to the general public. The Musicians Union of Los Angeles – Coronavirus COVID-19 Emergency Relief Funds AFM Local 47 and the Music Fund of Los Angeles have established Emergency Relief Funds to assist members in need who have been subject to work stoppages relating to the coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak. Music Fund of Los Angeles Emergency Relief Fund The Music Fund of Los Angeles Executive Board has established an Emergency Relief Fund for AFM Local members who have lost revenue due to work stoppages resulting from the coronavirus COVID-19 emergency. This fund will be able to extend a limited amount of grants for members who work for employers covered by a Local 47 contract or collective bargaining agreement (CBA). Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation COVID-19 Response Page This online hub is designed to help employers and related workforce in L.A. County respond to the challenges of the COVID-19/coronavirus. Updates are made daily. LA Mayor’s Economic Relief Package Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced an $11 million economic relief package for small businesses impacted by COVID-19. Small businesses anchored in the city of Los Angeles can apply for no-fee microloans of $5,000–$20,000 that may be used to cover working capital. The program will offer relaxed underwriting with no credit score minimum, a generous allowance to meet debt service and a 100% loan-to-value ratio. Backline Care Billed as “The Music Industry’s Mental Health and Wellness Hub,” this organization’s mission connects music industry professionals and their family with a trusted network of mental health and wellness providers. NEW YORK-BASED RESOURCES The City of New York has developed a list of resources for those who may be unemployed due to COVID-19 or are seeking additional assistance. NYC Well is an east coast connection to free, confidential mental health support. Speak to a counselor via phone, text, or chat. Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS has launched a COVID-19 Emergency Assistance Fund. Every donation helps those onstage and behind the scenes get health care, emergency financial assistance and counseling during this pandemic. OPERA America is working with national arts service organizations to provide links to current information and access to assistance. The list is updated regularly and includes details of performance/production cancellations across the field. The Southeastern Theatre Conference has collated a list of theatre-based support resources for those based in this field.
We hope this information has been helpful. A special Thank you to MusiCares and Grammy365 for providing all the links to the music relief funds and a special thank you to everyone that shared their personal stories with us and directly contributed to this article. We hope you all are safe and we pray that you all get through this time of crisis.
If you have a story to share with KGUP, please let us know how you're doing and how you are coping through this crisis. If you have a live stream show or live concert performance coming up, please let us know. We would love to help you promote it!