Sunday afternoon Chris Bizzell and I had a conversation about talking to different promoters and local music venues about how they were approaching live shows in the weeks ahead. Sadly, that now feels like a moot point as basically everything is shut down. Live shows are canceled from The Radio Room to The Spinning Jenny to Downtown Alive the Albino Skunk Music Festival for the foreseeable future and, the more we learn about COVID-19, the more that sounds like the safest decision for all parties involved.
The safe decision is probably the smart play here but it is hard to deny how much this hurts on so many different levels. Artists are not getting paid, the service industry employees that work the shows lose income, and the venue owners themselves see revenue grind to a screeching halt. The worst part about it is how to plan going forward when nobody knows if this is a two week, two month, or two year sort of problem. Proper planning can help weather most storms but the fact that we barely know what the storm will be in the first place is the part that is more than a bit terrifying.
While I generally use this space to preview a show, today let us talk about what we can do in the absence of any. How can we continue to support the local music scene when no one is taking the stage for a time? Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to do just that.
First, support the artists digitally. Buy their albums online. This is a digital age and albums can be downloaded at the click of a button instantly putting a little extra scratch in an artist’s pocket. Order merch. Just because nobody will see you in your brand new band t-shirt as you sit alone in quarantine, that band appreciates the sale and enough of them could help them survive the loss of paying gigs. Stream the heck out of local artists on Spotify or whatever your preferred listening platform is. Nobody is going to get rich off of streaming services but a spike in numbers could be a great morale booster for an artist sitting at home without an audience to connect with.
Secondly, let us all remember that beyond the artists, venues, small business owners, and their staffs as a whole are taking a hit here. If there was ever a time to shop local and put a little something generous in the tip jar, now is the time to do it. Buy tickets now for shows that are scheduled beyond the projected quarantine period. Buy gift cards for yourselves or others to use when the dust finally settles. Follow iOnGreenville’s guide to how businesses are adjusting to the needs of those playing it safe by avoiding public gatherings.
Finally, let us not forget the old adage that “this too shall pass”. In my 42 years on this earth, I have been told that I was probably going during WW III with the Soviet Union, AIDS, any number of hurricanes or blizzards, and countless more epidemics, pandemics, and threats to civilization that I can count. I am not minimizing the risk of COVID-19, mind you, as we are all struggling to understand it. I am just saying that common sense, logical safety measures, patience, and general decency should be more productive than outright panic and the hoarding of toilet paper.
Wash your hands, don’t lick any door knobs, and for God’s sake stay home if you even think you might have to sneeze. The sooner we get through this, the sooner we can get back to supporting the local music scene live and in person. Let us hope that day is not far on the horizon.