Live music is undoubtedly one of the industries that has been hit the hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic, with countless jobs lost, venues shuttering across the globe, and many businesses losing close to 100% of their revenue. The eventual recovery of this industry is largely dependent on the speed of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, which has been a sluggish process so far in the United States. In response to this slow pace, the live music industry came together last week in a letter addressed to President Joe Biden to offer its assistance with COVID-19 vaccination efforts.
The live music business is uniquely suited to help with the vaccination process, as America’s plentiful venues are equipped with ticketing and notification systems, crowd-control facilities, and refrigerators capable of storing large quantities of the vaccine. Live event venues are also often located near public transportation/parking and have an abundance of unemployed and furloughed workers who are looking to get back to work. Recognizing these advantages, the live music industry has been ready and willing to offer their services to COVID-19 relief efforts since March 2020. However, under the Trump administration, their resources were never requested by the federal government. The slow vaccine rollout has thus been disappointing and frustrating for live music professionals, as expressed by Michael Rapino, CEO of Live Nation, in a tweet on January 16th: “If the live event industry was tasked with vaccination distribution we would have done it in a weekend, sold t-shirts and beer and a meet and greet with [Anthony] Fauci.”
Last week’s initiative began with Wayne Forte, founder of Entourage Talent, who was eager to offer the live industry’s support to the new federal administration. He contacted colleagues across the industry, including Coren Capshaw of Red Light Management, Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino, AEG CEO Jay Marciano, and NIVA President Dayna Frank. The letter addressed Biden’s plan to vaccinate 100 million Americans in his first 100 days, emphasizing the live event industry’s unique capacity to assist. It was cosigned by AEG, Bandit Lies, The Broadway League, the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, the International Alliance of Venue Managers, Live Nation, the National Association of Music Merchants, the National Independent Talent Organization, the National Independent Venue Association, Oak View Group, Save Live Events Now, and We Make Events.
This letter comes just one month after the Save Our Stages Act became a law as a part of Congress’ COVID-19 relief package. This much-needed bill allotted $15 billion dollars in federal aid to independent venues and music industry professionals, and was passed largely due to the efforts of NIVA, one of the co-signers of the letter to Joe Biden. Forte said that the industry’s offer to Biden is not only an important way to promote public safety, but also the “perfect giving back situation” for the Save Our Stages Act.
Forte is hopeful that the resources offered by the live industry will greatly expedite vaccine rollout, bringing the country one step closer to normality and the return of live music. The letter closes with this powerful plea:
“We have been closed for nearly one full year to protect public health. Please let us now go to work to protect public health. We share your goal to get America back to work, school and in gathering places of all kinds quickly and safely. We are ready to meet to discuss how we can help as soon as you and your staff are able.”
If you are interested in reading the rest of the letter, click here.