Music News: Return of big concerts may depend on testing and contact tracing


The Current Music News for May 15, 2020 (MPR Video)

A planned socially-distanced country-rock concert in Arkansas has been pushed back from tonight to Monday to comply with a government order to keep music venues shuttered for at least a few more days. When the Travis McCready show does happen, it will be closely watched as one of America's first live music events since COVID-19 hit.

Meanwhile, as Pitchfork points out, live music has been happening regularly in South Korea. The key: that country's aggressive pandemic response, which includes widespread testing and contact tracing. The success of that response is that the country even expects to hold a music festival with 3,000-4,000 attendees in July. The fact that the United States lags far behind in virus containment means that booking agents have started looking to 2021 as the next feasible point at which big-city, big-name shows can resume.

Even in South Korea, though, the risks right now remain acute. Most shows there have been pushed back right now due to a recent outbreak, with contact tracing revealing that one positive coronavirus carrier went out to enjoy the nightlife in Seoul and potentially exposed 1,500 people in one night.

Will radio conglomerates take subsidies meant for small stations?

A $3 trillion relief package currently moving through Congress includes a modified Payroll Protection Program meant to apply to newspapers, radio stations, and TV stations. As Rolling Stone points out, though, independent media outlets are worried that big conglomerates will grab a lot of the available funds.

In the radio world, that means companies like iHeartMedia, the country's dominant radio power with about 850 stations under its ownership. Independent stations say that stations owned by big companies are less involved with their communities and more risk-averse when it comes to playing new music; that's why 700 independent record labels are also supporting the effort to rewrite the bill to ensure that the bulk of subsidies go to locally-owned stations.

Meanwhile, big broadcasters continue to lobby the FCC to allow them to buy even more stations in each local market. (Rolling Stone)

New live music from Prince, a surprise single from GAYNGS

Thursday marked the tenth anniversary of the Last Prom on Earth, a show at First Avenue in Minneapolis by a sprawling collective called GAYNGS — with members including Justin Vernon of Bon Iver, Dessa and P.O.S of Doomtree, and masterminded by producer Ryan Olson. Prince was there at the show, he was backstage holding a guitar, and he almost jumped up on stage...but he never did.

There was another cosmic convergence on the show's anniversary yesterday: the Prince estate hosted a stream of a 1985 show by Prince and the Revolution, subsequently releasing the audio as a new live album. Meanwhile, GAYNGS showed up with their first new music since the one album they released in 2010: "Appeayl 2 U," a Bandcamp exclusive to benefit Voices for Racial Justice. Vernon and Olson are back, along with a group of new collaborators.

Post Malone is selling rosè now

With concerts canceled and record sales tanking, how can musicians make money right now? Well, there's always the livestream route...or, if you're Post Malone, you can pivot to rosè. Maison No. 9, a rosè billed as "crisp," "refreshing," and "very smooth" is hitting liquor stores next month. What else do we know about it? We're told it was "built on friendship, hard work, and a passion for French rosè wine." In the words of Mr. Malone himself, "Rosè is for when you want to get a little fancy."

Join us this weekend for a streaming festival of Minnesota music

We know you have a lot of streaming options right now, but if you're looking to discover some great new music, we hope you'll join us here at The Current for Sounds Like Home, a three-day virtual festival spotlighting Minnesota artists. The lineup includes Reina Del Cid, who've had a YouTube hit in recent days with their tender cover of Bob Dylan's "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right."

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