COVID-19 and the Music Industry: Lifting Each Other Up When We’re Down

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As seen in Guitar Girl Magazine Summer 2020 Issue

The onslaught of COVID-19 has brought our world to its knees in a very short time. Three months ago, the novel coronavirus was surprising, but not something we worried about. Now, with everyone confined to their homes and states starting to reopen partially, it takes everything to not think about it. Everyone has been affected in one way or another—whether it’s in worrying about a sick loved one or the loss of a job. The music industry is no exception.

For some people, the chance to be at home has provided time to invest in passions—bake bread, knit a sweater, write a book. You might think, well, musicians have more time to write songs. While this may be true, musicians make a living by sharing their work with others. The pandemic has meant that tours and in-person performances all over the world have been canceled. Musicians around the globe are being hit hard emotionally and financially (if this is you, check out this article on ways to make some extra money). Musicians can’t continue making music—having all the time in the world or not—if they can’t get the support they need to keep working.

With that said, the music community has never been a selfish one. In a world where so many people are eager to fend for themselves, the music industry has done the opposite. Struggling though we may be, the industry has banded together to help others and each other. Check out this list of fundraisers, benefits, and relief initiatives that are all working on getting musicians, music venues, and the general public through this craziness in one piece.

ORGANIZATIONAL RELIEF AND INITIATIVES FOR MUSICIANS

MusiCares Relief Fund

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MusiCares is owned by The Recording Academy, which is widely known for televising Music’s Biggest Night, the GRAMMY awards. MusiCares calls itself a safety net for people in the music industry, with resources to help with personal, financial, and medical emergencies. Another goal of MusiCares is to direct more attention to issues like addiction—they even run an addiction recovery program, specifically designed for those in the music industry.

MusiCares has now dedicated resources to starting the MusiCares COVID-19 Relief Fund, which allows people to donate money to help musicians struggling to get by during the pandemic.

If you’re a musician that’s been affected by the pandemic, MusiCares has resources to help you get through, as well as a running newsfeed with pertinent relief information.

CARES Act

Another resource on the MusiCares website is a fact sheet on the CARES Act (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, Economic Security). This is a $2 trillion aid package put together by the United States government. While this act is not specifically designed for those in the music industry, musicians may be eligible for several of its benefits, which include:

  • A pandemic assistance program for currently-unemployed, self-employed persons
    • Musicians can be considered self-employed. Since many have had gigs and tours canceled, they may be eligible to receive a sizeable amount of money per week on top of standard unemployment benefits.
  • Small business administration loans
    • This is for self-employed workers (including musicians) and includes payment protection loans and Economic Injury Disaster Loans. Payment protection loans may be forgiven in full if an individual meets specific qualifications, and the advance on the EIDL does not need to be repaid if an individual qualifies for one.
  • Seventy-five million dollars in a supplemental fund for the National Endowment of the Arts
    • Forty percent of this fund will be sent directly to regional/state arts committees and can be used to help local musicians who are struggling.

#SaveOurStages

#SaveOurStages is run by NIVA (National Independent Venue Association), an organization made up of over 1,300 independent music venues in the United States. All of them were entirely shut down for COVID-19 and will not likely be able to reopen until long after their larger competitors have done so. The independent venues are petitioning congressional leaders to change parts of COVID-19 legislation to help small businesses that have lost revenue during the pandemic. The proposed changes include modifications to:

  • Small business loans
  • Payment protection
  • Tax relief
  • Continued unemployment insurance
  • Mortgage and rent forbearance

These changes would help venues survive the pandemic despite complete lack of revenue, and allow budding and seasoned musicians to continue to have places to shine. Hashtag #SaveOurStages to show your support, visit NIVA’s website to donate to their cause, or get the attention of your local legislators.

BENEFIT CONCERTS

Many benefit concerts are put on to raise funds for musicians and other workers affected by COVID-19, or just to raise spirits. Examples include:

  • Martin Guitars’ Jam in Place Facebook Live series. Every afternoon on their Facebook page, Martin Guitars hosts a new artist performing from their home space. Past and future artists include Hunter Hayes, Jeff Slate, and Jim Roberti.
  • Keith Urban hosted a drive-in concert to benefit front-line workers.
  • Canadian singer Tom Jackson launched Almighty Voices, a twelve-episode variety show featuring and raising money for Canadian artists. Performers include Whitehorse, Myles Goodwyn, and Cynthia Dale.
  • The Grateful Dead held weekly virtual concerts benefiting MusiCares’ Relief Fund.
  • CMT featured Tim McGraw, Faith Hill, and more country musicians for a virtual concert benefiting Feed The Front Line.
  • The Opera Theatre of Saint Louis partnered with the St. Louis Shakespeare Festival for a free virtual concert, Arts United STL, to benefit the Regional Arts Commission’s Artist Relief Fund.
  • Here at GuitarGirl Magazine, we’ve hosted multiple benefits to raise money for MusiCares’ Relief Fund. We hosted an all-day music marathon featuring spectacular female talent, as well as some advice on making music. We also hosted another Facebook Live featuring the amazing Ladies of the Canyon. We encouraged our audience to donate if they enjoyed the performances.

This is just a sampling of outlets for musicians to seek help and to show how our communities are pulling together. Our world has been struck. So many things have changed. In a time of immense struggle for the music community, we have seen tremendous support. The community that dedicates itself to bringing joy to the listener has continued to do so and has found a way to support each other in the process.

If you’re able, donate to one of these lovely causes. If you’re not, social media support is just as necessary to raise awareness. Stay safe, everyone, and keep listening to music.

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Disclaimer: We are not in any way offering professional, financial, tax, or legal advice in this article, and the information contained herein should not be construed as such. This article is for informational purposes only, and the reader assumes responsibility for researching and performing due diligence before pursuing an action for relief.

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