When Covid-1 hit the United States in early 2020, it caused an unprecedented shutdown of the live music industry that continued long after other sectors of the economy reopened. As the vaccine rollout gained steam in the first half of 2021, and new cases and hospital admissions went downhill, music lovers began to feel that they could finally create light stains at the end of a long, dark tunnel. Tours were booked, venues overcame capacity constraints as local law allowed and a major-rotation number of festival lineups were announced. Many began to believe that the worst was behind us.
Then the Delta variant introduced itself and it felt like we were going back to the epidemic. As the weather cools as medical resources expand to the limit in many parts of the country, there is ample reason to continue to be cautious.
So where does the live music go in terms of security?
In a word: complex.
Vaccinated people are still not much protected from the virus, but breakthroughs can and do occur, especially when masked people are properly confined to an indoor room without ventilation (which may seem like the best clinical description of the show). Your life). Although some parts of the country are currently hit harder by deltas than others – especially the southern states including Texas and Florida – we all learned during this epidemic that any current reality could change without notice. In response to concerns about the increase in cases and declining effectiveness, U.S. officials recently approved Pfizer booster shots for 20 million adults (for those over 65, living with certain health conditions, or employed as front-line workers), and more Pfizer approvals for this. And Moderena recipients are expected in the coming months. With the exception of a new round of regional lockdowns, it does not look like the venues will close together again in the near future. For many, this time may be another prolonged closure lasting.
Audrey Fix Schaefer, who serves as VP and communications director of the board of directors of the National Independent Venue Association (NIVA), and the Washington DC concert production company IMP (which operates the 9:30 Club and Lincoln Theater, among others) estimates that about 300 NVA members – including independent space, promoters and festivals – has been permanently closed since the organization was formed in April 2020.
“The reason it doesn’t happen is because we’ve formed, and we’re fighting for this emergency relief together,” he said. “People were trying to hold back – removing their 401 (k) shots, taking money from their kids’ college funds, rescheduling their mortgages, that kind of thing – until relief came.”
With so much at stake in terms of public health, business and the cultural life of their communities, it’s no surprise that independent venue operators have taken their game forward in an effort to make live music safer. Some clubs stick exclusively to outdoor shows as much as possible. Many have announced new policies such as site masking requirements or ticker proofs and / or negative COVID-19 testing upon entry. Occasionally, they act before state and local governments update their own masking recommendations and orders.
Cindy Barbar, co-owner of the Beachland Ballroom in Cleveland, said: “We run a non-profit jazz club in Cleveland called Bop Stop. The government shut us down last March.” But we did not take the decision. Now, as the government basically refuses to go through another shutdown, business owners are giving up enforcing these decisions and policies and the pressure is shifting on all of us.
Despite the pressure, Barber said the public response to the COVID-19 safety policy at his venue প্রয়োজন requiring vaccination or negative COVID-19 test evidence within 48 hours of their entry as part of the Northeast Ohio Coalition of Venues and theaters-was much more positive, some sponsors said That they feel safe coming out on their show. Others have called venue managers “Nazis” on social media channels and vowed never to set foot in the club again.
“[This] This seems to be happening at venues across the country based on the meeting I had at NIVA Town Hall last week, ”said the barber. “But we’re all trying to make it clear that we need to make some policies so that we can stay open and try to keep staff, guests and artists safe at the moment.”
Ohio is one of many states where Republican governors and / or legislators have tried to make it difficult or illegal for local authorities to impose epidemic-related public health measures. Some have succeeded, at least for now.
Fortunately, this is not the case everywhere. In August, New York City, as the first major city in the United States, announced that at least one covid vaccine shot proof would be required for indoor dining, gym and performance spaces. For local independent venues, that move has strengthened or strengthened their own policies and helped ease the pressure to deal with face-to-face guests and artists. Alex Holden, general manager of Union Pool in Brooklyn, says only one artist has been canceled from his venue since the announcement of the mandate because of his anti-vaccination stance.
Union Pool manager Anna Paz Lopez, who also works at Experimental Rock Label Temporary Residences Ltd., suggested that citywide regulations, such as those in New York, could affect the show’s safety. Musicians may consider local masking guidelines and vaccine levels when planning a trip to reduce their own exposure risk.
“I feel confident working in a venue that requires proof of vaccination in a high-wax town and I can see musicians making similar decisions with routing,” he said.
And indeed, some tour musicians are already doing just that. Others are creating their own coveted protocols for themselves and their staff, or need proof of masks or tickers on their shows outside the order of places. Abbey Simmons, who worked as a tour manager and merchandise manager for more than a decade before the epidemic, recently returned to the streets as Slitter-Kinney’s merchandise manager on their summer tour with Wilco and Namdu. Simmons says everyone in Slater-Kinney’s 11-person group needs to be vaccinated before the visit and agree to be tested weekly and after a few days off. They also had to accept that if they ever tested positive, they would be in a city and behind in segregation before returning home. The group followed extensive daily warnings throughout the tour.
“I didn’t do it as a merchandise manager [sell merchandise] To limit exposure and contact with the crowd, and this was true for Wilco and Namdor [crew members] As well, “Simmons said.” We wore masks all the time, except on our tour buses and hotel rooms. Whenever we worked with local crew or staff at a venue, I wore an N95 mask. There were no meals, no movies or museums এবং and guests were not allowed in our hotels, buses, or behind the scenes.
At the end of the tour, it was clear that their promise had been paid. August 27, Simmons Tweeted “I was told at the beginning of the tour that it would be ‘when’, not ‘if’ to get Kovid. Not one of our last shows tomorrow and a 40 plus person travel party is positive. Has it been hard work? Absolutely. Is it worth continuing to work? Sucking perfectly. “
Although Slitter-Kinney and Wilco limited their travels to external venues, Simmons said the success of the run with the new venue policy has made him more optimistic about bringing live music to the fore. He has already been contracted to work as a band’s merchandise manager during the November-December tour.
“In terms of what places can do to make bands and crews feel safe, I would say that following their own guidelines for masking them and not being angry verbally or visually about it will go a long way in making me feel more comfortable,” he says.
This message is not lost on the independent venue managers we spoke to. “When you rely on touring bands, the bands have to be safe everywhere to get out on the streets. They need to be safe and they want their fans to be safe, “said Schaefer.
The increased need for health precautions in places has opened the door to new solutions. On September 1, NIVA announced a new partnership with Bindle, a digital software vendor whose software platform allows concertgoers, venue staff, traveling artists and crew members to store their vaccine and Covid test records, as well as secure entry passes. Let’s go. This gives HIPAA-loyal, counterfeit-resistant, and venues the option to adjust their requirements based on their own policy decisions or local health recommendations and orders. It’s free for users and affordable for small businesses (1,000-10,000 entries per month costs $ 0.15 per entry). Bundle co-founder and CEO Gus Warren says they already have more than 140 NIVA and non-NIVA partners with the program, and he expects hundreds more in the coming weeks.
Sadly, as much as any place can do to reduce the risk of covid infection in their organization, no policy or action can be 100% foolish when you yourself are fighting science. Lopez noted that a recent show at a venue in New York has resulted in a number of landmark events (despite evidence of vaccination at the venue), and a number of artists, including Neco Case, Ministry and Modern English, have canceled or postponed tour dates in recent weeks for security concerns. Test positive for covid.
Venue managers, such as their case-11, must keep a local case number and hospital admissions to read their protocols until they have a remote memory, adhere to the rules of the fans’ home, and, as before, enter any other business location. Evaluate their comfort level based on and decide to take part in a show accordingly. There are plenty of ways to support independent music venues and your favorite artists so you don’t have to take your own initiative between the venues, from buying artists and club marches to watching live streams (and donating to the band). Of course, fans can also be on wide-distance outdoor shows and promise to wear masks while supporting the NIVA campaign and local event and hospitality initiatives. Without age restrictions or exemptions on certain medical conditions, anyone interested in watching live music should be vaccinated and alerted on their calendar when they are scheduled for their booster – and those who make it should give their bartenders a lot of advice.