Robert Plant Is Fighting To Save US Music Venues
Words by Riley Fitzgerald
Graphic by TOM JAMIESON/THE NEW YORK TIMES
Robert Plant and several other notable acts have signed an open letter to US Congress urging them to help save independent music venues.
Many venues have suffered dramatically in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
These businesses were the first to close their door due to the outbreak of the pandemic.
With the cost of partially reopening not an economic reality, nearly 2000 venues now face an indefinite shutdown.
It is unlikely most will open until 2021.
This not only impacts the venues themselves but surrounding restaurants, hotels, taxi businesses, retail establishments, as well as other members of local communities.
This is an issue with the National Independent Venue Association (NIVA) now wishes to address with the #SaveOurStages campaign.
The Led Zeppelin vocalist and his fellow artist’s statement reads as follows:
June 18, 2020
We, the undersigned artists, respectfully submit this letter in support of NIVA’s request for federal assistance for independent music venues and promoters across the United States.
We will know America is “back” when our music venues are filled with fans enjoying concerts safely. The live music experience is inextricably tied to our nation’s cultural and economic fabric. In fact, 53% of Americans – that’s 172 million of us – attended a concert last year.
We urge you to remember we are the nation that gave the world jazz, country, rock & roll, bluegrass, hip hop, metal, blues, and R&B. Entertainment is America’s largest economic export, with songs written and produced by American artists sung in every place on the globe. All of these genres of music, and the artists behind them, were able to thrive because they had neighborhood independent venues to play in and hone their craft, build an audience, and grow into the entertainers that bring joy to millions.
Independent venues give artists their start, often as the first stage most of us have played on. These venues were the first to close and will be the last to reopen. With zero revenue and the overwhelming overhead of rent, mortgage, utilities, taxes and insurance, 90% of independent venues report that if the shutdown lasts six months and there’s no federal assistance, they will never reopen again.
We are asking you to support NIVA’s request for assistance so these beloved venues can reopen when it’s safe and welcome us and our fans back in. The collapse of this crucial element in the music industry’s ecosystem would be devastating.
Independent venues are asking for an investment to secure their future, not a handout. One Chicago report found that every dollar small venues generate in ticket sales results in $12 of economic activity. If these independent venues close forever, cities and towns across America will not only lose their cultural and entertainment hearts, but they will lose the engine that would otherwise be a driver of economic renewal for all the businesses that surround them.
With respect and solidarity, we, as artists and as community members ourselves, urge you to pass federal legislation that will help #SaveOurStages.
Alongside Robert Plant, the letter is signed by more than 600 acts, including Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters, Mavis Staples, Lady Gaga, André 3000, Coldplay, Willie Nelson, Billie Ellish, Gary Clark Jr, Miranda Lambert, Billy Joel, Earth Wind & Fire, Kacey Musgraves, Leon Bridges, and Bon Iver.
“The potential collapse of the independent arm of our industry cannot be exaggerated,” NIVA president Dayna Frank shares of the dire state of the industry. “Indie venues are the safe places that allow artists to grow, explore, and intertwine the musical culture of their city and their artistic community with their own inner voice.”
“We’re incredibly grateful for these emerging artists and legends who are putting a spotlight on the need to #SaveOurStages,” they continue. “We want nothing more to welcome them and their fans back when it’s safe to do so, which is why we’re working so hard to secure our survival.”
The organization also urges those concerned US rescinded to contact their member of congress and later them to the #SaveOurStages campaign.
More information on Robert Plant and the NIVA’s efforts here.