Indie Venues

A Future Without Indie Venues?

A Future Without Indie Venues? Why Live Music Might Be in Trouble

As the future of Indie venues drives on the coronavirus pandemic has been rough on small businesses, but few have suffered more than independent music venues. Over the past few months, venues and promoters have endured major financial loss due to ticket refunds and show cancellations. Now, with COVID-19 cases on the rise in the U.S., the future of live events seems uncertain. The National Independent Venue Association (NIVA) warns that 90 percent of U.S. independent venues could close their doors forever.

For those of us who call Nashville home, the thought of a life without live music cuts straight to the core. What would Music City even be without all the spaces that make live music possible? [What I wouldn’t give right now to catch an EDM show at The Cowan. Or cool off with an Italian cream soda from Café Coco after sweating it out at a rock show at Exit/In.]

The pandemic is sucking the lifeblood out of live music. But although the situation looks bleak, there’s still hope for the future.

Earlier this month, Congress voted to extend the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), and the President approved the extension on July 4. (The program was originally set to expire on June 30.) Now, small businesses will have until August 8 to apply for crucial loans.

Then on July 6, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) unveiled details of the next round of PPP loans. Among those set to receive monetary relief are independent record labels–like Sub Pop, All Rise, and Nashville’s own Third Man Records. According to the data, the arts and entertainment industry as a whole received 1.53 percent of total funds loaned.

How fans can help

Helping with A Future Without Indie Venues Artists and fans are also taking action to save live music. On June 18, more than 600 artists signed a letter to Congress in support of funding for independent venues. Now, NIVA is asking fans to do the same. Through SaveOurStages.com, NIVA encourages fans to push Congress to provide relief for these ailing businesses.

“Without inclusion in the next stimulus bill, this might be the last chance for your favorite independent venues, festivals and promoters,” NIVA warns. Tell your reps that life support for independent venues and promoters must be included [in the next bill].”

Congress plans to vote on the next stimulus bill in late July. Some, like NIVA, are proposing changes to the bill to further assist small businesses. “The PPP and other programs do not work for venues,” says NIVA, “which are completely shuttered small businesses in need of long-term support that provides flexibility for the use of funds…”

With Congress voting later this month, there’s still time left to save the stages. It’s easy to feel powerless during these unprecedented times. We may not know when this pandemic will end. However, we have the power to save the venues we love.