There are a couple of pieces of legislation that could do a lot to help ensure that DNA Lounge and venues like ours will still exist after the pandemic. Congress is about to go on vacation again in a week, and we need you to hound them into passing this legislation before they take off.
Please reach out to your local California legislators (in San Francisco that's Chiu and Wiener) and Senators Feinstein and Harris through email and social media to support live music venues and the future of music.
You can also use the form at saveourstages.com (but it's not obvious to me who that goes to).
The Save Our Stages Act (S.4258 / H.R.7806), introduced by Senators Cornyn and Klobuchar and Representatives Welch and Williams, and the RESTART Act (S.3814 / H.R.7481), introduced by Senators Bennet and Young and Representatives Golden and Kelly, provide vital support for independent venues that have lost nearly 100% of their revenue since the pandemic began in March. These venues will remain closed well into 2021 due to safety concerns posed by large gatherings. These institutions draw most of their revenue from acts that tour the United States, and until it's safe to do so en masse, it won't be possible for venues to bring back their staff. 90% of the 2,400 national members of NIVA have stated that they will be forced to close their doors if the shutdown lasts 6 months or more and they do not get meaningful support from Congress.
Without support from Congress these community anchors WILL close, and we'll be left to ask whether we did our part to save them.
We are asking our media friends to rally behind this movement and spread the word this coming Monday August 3rd. The timing is vital. Congress goes on break, and is rushing to complete its next relief bill, and independent venues MUST be included. These mom and pop entrepreneurs are among the hardest hit by a pandemic: first to close and will be among the last to re-open. There's no takeout version of concerts. Drive-ins and virtual streaming shows don't begin to put our people back to work. The gig economy has been shuttered, and many thousands of our friends are at home, hoping the government keeps them fed while our industry tries to figure out what's next.
Last week there was an experiment in London to do a socially-distanced live concert, and it proved that none of us can operate that way. It's going to be a very long time before we can have concerts again.
BBC: Frank Turner's socially distanced trial gig 'not a success'
Folk rocker Frank Turner played to a socially-distanced audience at London's Clapham Grand on Tuesday. Only 200 people attended, compared to the venue's normal capacity of 1,250.
Venue manager Ally Wolf said the government-backed pilot was not financially viable for venues. "It can't be the future for live music, it can't be the future for venues," he said, noting that the show did not make enough money to cover the venue's operating costs, even before the performer's fee was taken into account. [...]
Wolf said that, while Turner's performance was "great" and it was nice to see an audience back inside the venue, he was not about to get "caught up in the jubilation of finally being able to put on a show".
He said the pilot was "not a financial model that the industry can remotely rely upon to get to be sustainable" and would be particularly damaging for smaller venues.
So our aims with the show were threefold. Firstly, to demonstrate willingness to try. The live music industry is full of people who are triers, problem-solvers, go-getters, by its ver nature. We have to show that we're game to find a solution to the problem posed by the pandemic. Secondly, we wanted to show that both performers and audience could successfully abide by the restrictions posited by the powers-that-be (in which we were successful -- more on that shortly).
But thirdly, in a weird way, we wanted to show that this specific set-up doesn't work.
The Grand was at less than 20% of capacity (around 200 people), but Ally had to double the number of staff working, to meet all the guidelines. There was no talent spend (I didn't get paid), and no advertising spend (the show sold out pretty much straight away), and yet it still lost money. And the Grand is a versatile space, as an old music hall, in a way that many independent venues are not. We needed to show that this isn't a complete solution or a workable model, that either restrictions need to change or more funding is required; essentially that fight is far from over. [...]
This is not the start of a series of shows like this -- that'd bankrupt everyone involved. But it was, as I say, a gesture of cooperation, an attempt to feel out the situation with an eye to taking steps in a better direction. But most of all it was a fucking GIG. I have missed that, for sure. It turns out, live music really, really matters.