Singers Write Congress on Behalf of the National Independent Venue Association

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By Katie Van Lew

From chart-topping artist to up-and-coming artists, the pandemic has taken a severe toll on the music industry. The coronavirus has forced artists to postpone shows and live performances to as late as 2021. Because of artists’ postponement of events, as well as the COVID-19 safety precautions, independent venues are struggling to keep their businesses alive. According to NPR, the cancellation of concerts resulting from virus concerns equates to a projected $9 billion loss for the music industry for the year 2020.

The jeopardization of independent venues has led artists such as Billie Eilish, Dave Grohl, Lady Gaga, and Neil Young to reach out to Congress on behalf of these businesses. The majority of high-profile artists like Eilish have begun their careers performing at smaller venues. Since the venues have been closed since March, many venue owners are worried that if the government mandates that venues be closed for longer than six months, 90% of independent venues will remain closed forever

Although it is a humbling deed for artists to write to Congress to demand funds for these smaller venues, the venues are not guaranteed any funding from the government. A way in which accomplished artists can support these independent venues is by holding concerts themselves at bigger venues, and donating the proceeds to the National Independent Venue Association. If the large concert venues, such as Madison Square Garden, are able to open up, it may be a feasible option to host concerts at larger venues at a reduced capacity. Artists can then donate a portion of their profit to an independent venue of choice, or the NIVA organization itself. 

Washington is home to two well-known music venues, The Anthem and the 9:30 Club. The Anthem sits in the District Wharf, a beautiful waterfront neighborhood in D.C. Built in 2017, and is among the city’s newest venues that give up-and-coming artists the chance to let their artistry come to life. Amid virus concerns, the Anthem has been forced to postpone all concerts until Mayor Bowser lifts restrictions on entertainment venues such as auditoriums and concert halls. In the meantime, The Anthem is opening up Camp Anthem, a pop-up waterfront bar and restaurant. Camp Anthem is taking reservations through August and will be open from Friday-Sunday for dinner. In contrast, 9:30 club owner Seth Hurwitz is keeping the 9:30 Club closed until at least 2021. 

Over 1,100 artists have united to advocate for the “Save Our Stage Campaign.” The movement advocates for the issuing of federal assistance to independent artists and venues nationwide. The future of independent venues, once upheld by the profits guaranteed by concertgoers, is now being dictated by the potential assistance of government funds. Smaller venues are the first step that new artists experience as a means to get their foot in the door of the music industry. Without these venues, the music industry will lose it’s smaller yet sentimental stages, as well as revoking the opportunity from emerging artists to pursue their craft. 

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