Earlier this summer, HARMAN launched our popular ’Audio Talks’ podcast series. In each episode of Audio Talks, host Oisin Lunny brings guests from across the music and audio industries to share their expertise and experience on a range of topics – from producing sound for Woodstock, to making it in the male-dominated audio industry as a woman. Soon, season two of the series will launch – taking listeners through entirely new topics that are near and dear to the hearts of music fans, gamers, podcasters, music producers and more.
But ahead of Season Two, we’re taking a look back at the last episode of Season One. One of our guests in this very special episode, is Rev. Moose, Executive Director and Co-Founder of the National Independent Venue Association (NIVA), who sat down to talk about the widespread impact of COVID-19 on our live music venues, concert experiences and NIVA’s efforts to help preserve the music events business – and what can be done to save them until we can all safely return to one of our favorite musical experiences – live concerts.
1) Tell us a little about yourself, your NIVA organization, and the work you’re doing to mitigate the impacts of COVID-19 on the live music industry?
Moose: My name is Rev. Moose and I am the Managing Partner and Co-Founder at Marauder, and Executive Director/Co-Founder at NIVA. At Marauder, we act as the connection between the North American market and our clients, which consists of artists and organizations from all over the world, including running Independent Venue Week in the US. We helped start NIVA four months ago to draw attention to how independent venues and promoters have been hurt by the global impact of COVID-19. NIVA’s mission is to help these venues survive through the pandemic-related shutdowns, as many venues across the country had to stop their businesses abruptly. The government programs in place don’t support independent venues and their partners. We’re working to create a way forward and a path of survival for the music industry.
2) What does a community lose when live music venues go away? What are the financial benefits to the local economy from a thriving music scene?
Moose: For every one dollar spent at small venues, there’s 12 dollars of economic activity generated – from restaurant visits, post-show pizza slices, hotels, travel, all the things people do to create a nice night out. Think about this in real terms – if you’re paying 36 dollars for a ticket, that’s 432 dollars being generated for a local economy. You multiply that by an 800 person room – you’re in the hundreds of thousands of dollars of impact from just one show. Without an outlet for art and culture in a community, you have a ton of interrelated businesses being impacted and forced to scale back.
3) What about some of the stop-gap strategies venues and artists have started to take on, like livestreaming or socially-distanced, small-scale shows?
Moose: I don’t think there is a replacement for the true, live experience. The temporary solutions we’re trying out – drive in concerts, limited capacity stuff – they’re great, don’t get me wrong, but those are seasonal, and limited capacity really doesn’t work at scale. Live streams have generated some funding and donations, which is, of course, very appreciated and we hope there’s more to come, but the reality is we can’t even open the country partly. When you factor in the PPE, the extra staff, the extra everything you need to put on a show right now – it just doesn’t work. The only long-term solution is to reopen – bringing back large scale tours.
4) What steps have been taken to advocate for music businesses? How does the work of NIVA support the music sector to survive this pandemic?
Moose: We’re fighting for support at the federal level. We’re supporting the RESTART Act, which is largely created to support business with zero revenue and with no date of return in mind yet. We’re also supporting the Save Our Stages Act, which is specifically written to help live music promoters, venues, and others in the form of grants. We can’t have any inaction now! Many venues have already closed permanently and even with the funding, many more will close. Live music will never go away, but the venues and options – who you purchase your tickets from, where artists can go – will be left up to a small group.
5) Any final takeaways for our readers? Are there ways for individuals to get involved and support this worthy effort?
Moose: People can get directly involved at Save Our Stages – send a letter to your Senators and Representatives and let them know to support the Save Our Stages Act and the RESTART Act in order to keep independent venues nationwide from closing permanently. We understand businesses need to be closed right now to ensure the safety of the community, but we also need to do our part to keep our art and culture alive once this has finally passed.
While the live music industry is learning how to operate and navigate the current reality, organizations like NIVA, led by Rev. Moose, have been advocating and working to preserve businesses struggling to stay afloat. For more details, check out this episode of Audio Talks and listen to Rev. Moose and Shain Shapiro, Founder & Group CEO at Sound Diplomacy, talk about the efforts being made to save our local music venues. As we eagerly await those times when we can attend musical events in-person again, Season 2 of the Audio Talks podcast series will offer listeners an opportunity to learn how to get the most in their listening experience from the comfort and safety of their own homes and listening environments.