Opinionated Metalhead: COVID-19 Hitting the Industry Hard
As the situation regarding the Corona Virus continues to evolve it’s impacts are larger than public health and panic during a crisis. Shortages on bottled water and bulk size toilet paper as well as medical supplies such as masks for those who need them are only part of the impact this is having on our day to day lives.
Many countries are on lock down with travel bans, mandatory quarantines for those confirmed positive for the virus and the suggestion that anyone presenting symptoms be tested and self isolate. The world economy is taking a plunge at a prodigious rate causing things like 401k and investment holdings of many to take a hit. Airlines and public transportation lines are taking more action to increase the sanitation of their planes trains and automobiles.
This week I traveled for my day job to San Francisco right before the World Health Organization officially named this virus a Pandemic. My flight from Las Vegas, NV to San Francisco, CA was sparsely populated with passengers who either had to travel for work like I was or were returning back home to the Bay Area after visiting. When I hit the city my lyft driver who picked me up to drive me to my office around 930 am had said I was his 3rd ride since 5 am and things were increasingly getting slower.
The streets were not as hustle and bustle while I walked around and played tourist for an evening after my work was done for the day. One in every 10 people on average was wearing some sort of face mask. The majority of the people you saw out and about were those who lived in the numerous tent cities across the tenderloin. there were still people huddled in bars and restaurants but there were no long waits as was usually the case in my previous trips to the Bay.
Come day of my return flight the BART to the airport was sparser than usual. There were no lines at the TSA security check point to speak of. It was like a ghost town once you got to the other side in an airport. I am used to seeing it packed with people to the point where you have to search for a place to sit down several gates away some days. The site of a mask caused some others to be visibly anxious , wondering if the wearer was sick and going to be on their flight. My flight home again was practically empty as was the airport when I had gotten off the plane. The streets were practically empty of vehicles and a slew of posts with pictures of a barren Las Vegas Strip painted my news feed on social media.
I personally have friends in Norway under quarantine as well as family in Italy also under a country wide level quarantine but they seem to be doing alright despite. Upon my return my team for my day job was asked to work from home to help limit our exposure and/or the spread of the virus. Now to come to the impacts on the Music Industry.
International & National tours have been cancelled due to travel restrictions. And as all this happens, sound techs, local bands that would be direct support, security guards, stage hands, roadies, bartenders and cocktail waitresses as well as so many others involved behind the scenes are being impacted by cut hours or lay offs. The ability to make ends-meet for these folks is evaporating at the same pace as the ability to buy bottled water and toilet paper. Venues are closing their doors out of concern for public health and safety. While some have chosen to post officially on social media such as Bunkhouse Saloon others have remained silent as they work through rescheduling upcoming events prior to making any official public statements.
Smash Magazine and Live Nation are two of the heavy weights in booking metal shows here in Vegas and have gone ahead and cancelled their upcoming events until further notice. Luckily the Joint and Vinyl at the Hard Rock have been out of commission since the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino went under new ownership and did not have any upcoming shows to cancel. Other local promoters are slowly following suit not only for safety concerns but for monetary ones. As the situation continues to evolve the expected number of show attendees is plummeting into a black hole of obscurity. Low show attendance numbers means low pay out for bands or the inability for a promoter to pay out headlining bands and make bar guarantees for select venues.
But it’s not just the going ons of booked shows that are being subjected to getting hit in the cervix but not in the good way. Delays in music releases and recording work on new material have been reported from a few local and not so local bands due to the Pandemic. This means any production / studio staff with upcoming booked projects who are self employed contractors or owners are also taking a financial hit. Delays in recording means delays in sales and promotion of new music and new merch sales for bands who had planned out their releases according to a fine tuned-ish schedule.
So the question remains, what can we do to support our industry people in this disparaging time? For those of us who are not financially impacted it is hard to put ourselves in their shoes unless we have also gone through a period of struggle. Offering a home cooked meal can make a world of difference. But also offering leads on temporary or side work that can help supplement the gaping hole that is only getting bigger in their bank accounts. Letting them know of any aid programs that they may qualify for. Spreading the word regarding petitions to stay evictions and other livelihood related items such as assistance with utility bills, food banks, etc.
What can you do to support a band while all these show cancellations are underway? Buy merch. If they have an online store set up buy that merch you’ve been wanting from them if you can swing it. Buy / Stream their music and share share share. In this time of isolation for so many, new music recommendations can help sanity and stay the cabin fever for a while longer.
Hang tight, post some dank memes and support your fellow humans. If you want to keep track of the situation as a whole keep an eye on the CDC website and announcements from your local government regarding additional public health safety measures being put in place.
- Running list of tour cancellations – Metal Injection
- Petition to requests Federal Aid for the Events Industry
- NV Energy / SW Gas to temporarily suspend disconnects for non-payment due to COVID-19
- Letter to Mayor Carolyn Goodman & Governor Steve Sisolak Petition
- CDC approves funding for testing
Shows not yet cancelled as of 11 pm PST 03/13/2020