While the best ways to support musicians during this time is pretty straightforward (buying music/merch, streaming tunes, and sharing the love with friends), it isn’t as obvious how to support the folks who make concerts happen. Live venues, unable to host concerts, need money for rent, utilities, payroll, and other expenses. Touring crew and others who work behind the scenes are often self-employed, meaning they don’t qualify for unemployment benefits. Let’s take today to discuss how we can support the people and places that have given us some of our favorite memories, so that we’ll still have places to rock at when it’s safe again.
The simplest and easiest way to support venues and crew during this time is with monetary support. If you have the means, consider donating to your local venues or nonprofits, or national organizations who are providing assistance to those in the music industry who have lost work due to COVID-19. There’s also some organizations and bands offering cool merch or other perks to those who donate!
If there’s a specific venue in your town that you love, the fastest way to support them is by donating to their fundraiser or buying merch! Both Eventbrite and Independent Venue Week have organized lists of venues that need your help.
If the venues in your area have met their goals, consider donating to a local or national nonprofit assisting those who are out of work due to the pandemic. Billboard has created a great list of organizations for those in need, many of which are accepting donations.
Cool Merch and Other Perks
Many bands that have had tours cancelled by the pandemic have created some cool perks and merch items to support their crews. Some venues have created perks for certain levels of donations as well! For example, Taking Back Sunday was offering personalized messages from frontman Adam Lazzara to support their crew (these are now sold out, unfortunately). Rise Against and many other artists have added new items to their merch store where proceeds go to their road crew. Some venues are also selling merch online, or are offering donation perks such as free food or upgrades for future shows!
Non-Monetary Means of Support
Want to support, but don’t have any extra cash? Luckily, there’s a few ways you can still support without giving money that you may need yourself. One way is to share these fundraisers – you may not have the means to donate, but you may have some friends or followers who do. Another is to get involved by with the #SaveOurStages movement.
Coordinated by the National Independent Venue Association, the #SaveOurStages initiative calls for the support of two bills: the SOS (Save Our Stages) Act and the RESTART (Reviving the Economy Sustainably Towards A Recovery in Twenty-twenty) ACT.
NIVA’s website saveourstages.com has made it easy to express your support for the two bills. By entering your name and address, the form will match you with your representatives and create a pre-written, but editable, message to send in support of the two acts. It will also give you the option to tweet at your senators and representatives to ask them to support the initiative. They provide you with phone number of your representatives as well, in case you’d like to call them instead.
If you’re interested in learning more about the bills and where they are in the process of becoming law, read on.
How A Bill Becomes A Law
In case you need a quick refresher on how a bill becomes a law, Saturday morning cartoons have you covered:
The Save Our Stages Act authorizes the Small Business Administration (SBA) to make grants to eligible live venue operators, producers, promoters, or talent representatives affected by COVID-19 to cover expenses such as payroll, rent, utilities, and personal protective equipment.
This bill was introduced in the Senate on July 22, and referred to the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee. It was introduced in the House of Representatives on July 27, and was then referred to the House Small Business Committee.
You can read the full bill introduced to the Senate on Congress.gov, but here’s a quick summary:
There are eligibility requirements for venues to make sure they are legitimate venues and aren’t too small or too huge. For example they must have pro sound equipment and lighting, employ event people, and sell tickets to events. On the other hand, they can’t operate in more than 10 states, have more than 500 employees, etc.
The bill provides for both initial grants and potential supplemental grants if revenue does not increase above 20% of normal levels by December 1, 2020.
The bill would provide grants of 45% of 2019 gross revenue or $12 million, whichever is less. Supplemental grants would be 50% of the initial grant.
Grant recipients can use the money for expenses such as payroll, rent, utilities, mortgage/loan payments, and other things such as taxes, insurance, and maintenance. They cannot use the money for new loans or real estate purchases, or contributions to political parties or candidates.
The RESTART (Reviving the Economy Sustainably Towards A Recovery in Twenty-twenty) Act is not specifically event-related, but provides support to all small businesses! The bill establishes a loan program where the SBA will guarantee loan amounts to small businesses affected by COVID-19.
This bill was introduced to the Senate on May 21, currently has 53 cosponsors, and has been assigned to the Senate Finance and Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committees. It was introduced in the House on July 2, currently has 107 cosponsors, and has been referred to the House Small Business and House Ways and Means Committees.
You can read the full bill introduced to the House on Congress.gov, but here’s a quick summary:
Eligible recipients include entities (including non-profits) who are eligible to receive a loan under the Small Business Act, or who do not have more than 5,000 full time employees.
Loans will be either 45% of the 2019 gross receipts of the recipient or $12 million, whichever is less. The interest rates will be really low (2-4% to start) and no interest payments due for the first 12 months and no principal payments due for 24 months.
Loan recipients can use the money for payroll, rent and utilities, existing mortgage and loan payments, personal protective equipment, and other business expenses such as franchise fees, taxes, maintenance and management costs, operating leases, etc.
Thank you for supporting independent venues and crews. Without them, we wouldn’t have any of the great concert memories or favorite bands we have today.