Music News: Epidemiologists uneasy about concert safety for another full year


The Current Music News for June 11, 2020 (MPR Video)

The New York Times recently polled 511 epidemiologists to see how they're feeling about the risks around various activities as we slowly start to get the coronavirus under control. Turns out they're feeling pretty safe about bringing in the mail without dousing it in bleach, and about going to the doctor for a non-urgent checkup. They're feeling more hesitant about getting on a bus or going to a dine-in restaurant, and even more hesitant about going to a wedding or, yeah, giving a friend a hug.

But the thing they're most hesitant to do, the thing they'll likely wait longest to get back to, is attending sporting events, plays, and...concerts. Sixty-four percent of the epidemiologists say they expect to wait at least a year before getting back into that kind of crowd.

On one level, that news isn't super surprising...after all, when the news broke that Coachella and Lollapalooza are both off this year, that basically just confirmed what we already knew. Even so, it's incredibly painful for music fans, and even moreso people whose livelihoods are based in the concert industry, to know that the reopening of salons and restaurants doesn't mean concerts are around the corner.

Everyone in live music is feeling that pain right now, including the people at the top: the giant promoter AEG just announced a major round of layoffs, furloughs, reduced hours, and salary reductions. There's not much worry that AEG or Live Nation will go out of business before concerts come back, though. That might not be the story at independent venues.

The National Independent Venue Association says that the vast majority of its members — 90% — may find it impossible to stay in business past this summer under the present circumstances. The association is pressing Congress to pass legislation that could be America's only hope of saving its independent music venues, and they've got support even from artists who haven't played small clubs in a while — people like Lady Gaga and Billy Joel.

This isn't just a theoretical danger: the Austin, Texas venue Barracuda has permanently closed its doors. The 7th Street club was beloved to locals and to SXSW attendees, but talent buyer Dan Holloway put it simply: "We can't keep paying rent and having no revenue."

Now, we want to pick up our thread from last episode, about new music that's relevant right now. Our colleague Andrea Swensson talked with Bob Mould, who explained how his new song "American Crisis" cuts even closer to the bone now than it did when he wrote it last year.

To send you out, here's a clip from Lizzo, who hopped on a beat box to soundtrack a dance by actor Liza Koshy and remind her fans to make their voices heard in the ballot box.

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