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Streaming Is Down, Festivals Are Dark: How Music Is Coping With COVID-19
One month since many Americans began to live life altogether differently, COVID-19 continues to devastate the music world. From taking the lives of such pillars of its community as John Prine, Hal Willner and Adam Schlesinger, to the financial fallout created from mass cancellation of all tours, festivals and events, music creators have been hit hard and fast by the pandemic. Even the relief plan passed to provide critical aid to music makers has encountered issues, as creators struggle to navigate the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
An Industry Hit Hard
Making matters worse, new data shows that streaming is down, contrary to widespread hopes that more time at home during the era of social distancing would result in a listening boom. Sadly, music streaming was down 7.6 percent for the week of March 13 with digital album sales also down 12.4 percent. Even physical sales took a big hit, dropping 27.6 percent, according to Rolling Stone's Alpha Data.
— GRAMMY Advocacy (@GRAMMYAdvocacy) April 13, 2020
On the live event side of the business, Forbes reports over 300 festivals have announced cancellations or postponements, affecting 90 percent of workers in the festival industry. To put the festival falloff in perspective, Coachella, which boasted a $700 million economic impact in 2016, was supposed to start this past weekend.
Cities that usually thrive on live music, like New Orleans, are most susceptible to the crisis. The Big Easy has 38,000 "cultural workers" with jobs in music venues and restaurants, nearly 10 percent of its entire population, and musicians make an average of just $17,800 a year according to the Washington Post.
The #coronavirus pandemic has deeply impacted our community––we are here to support and provide information during this time.
Here's a question we know many people in our industry have. #AdvocacyForCreators #COVID19
— GRAMMY Advocacy (@GRAMMYAdvocacy) April 10, 2020
As the industry reels from the ongoing effects of COVID-19, the Recording Academy has made it a priority to work with lawmakers to ensure that the nation’s recovery efforts are inclusive of music makers and the industry. The CARES Act established many new parameters that should help the struggling artists, songwriters, studio professionals, and other industry workers who are out of work, underworked, or simply unable to work.
With so many challenges facing music creators, many of whom were already struggling to make a livable wage, it is important to know what support resources are available to the music community. The Recording Academy has joined other groups in the music community by helping to launch the Music COVID Relief website, which contains the latest updates on the Federal Government’s response to the coronavirus.
Also, if you missed last week’s CARES Act webinar, a detailed discussion of how the new law affects music creators, you can watch it here. Additional webinars and programming will be announced soon to further dive into these new benefits.
— Recording Academy / GRAMMYs (@RecordingAcad) April 10, 2020
The Academy has also started posting “COVID-19 Relief for Music Creators: Question of the Day” on its social feed. The daily Q&A has already provided insight on how songwriters can file for "gig" employment status, how and where independent contractors should file for unemployment, and more.
If you have a question regarding the CARES Act, what aid is available, or how it impacts you, please feel free to submit questions to the Recording Academy’s CARES Act Helpline here. A team of legal and policy experts will get back to you with answers.
Making The Stimulus Work For You
Even with a $2 trillion stimulus already passed into law, the fight for relief is far from over. The Recording Academy continues to raise the voices of the music community, letting officials around the country know how critical this time and their support is for creators.
Along with other members of the music community, the Academy sent letters to several Governors and State Labor agencies, and to US Secretary of Labor Scalia, regarding the CARES Act. The letters address implementation of the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program for self-employed individuals, including the need for clear guidance on how to file for unemployment, a full accounting of annual income when calculating the weekly benefit amount for self-employed individuals, and retroactive payments under the PUA program.
Attention all music creators, who are sole proprietors, independent contractors, and self-employed.
Here's important information that can be helpful for you or someone you may know. #AdvocacyForCreators #COVID19
— GRAMMY Advocacy (@GRAMMYAdvocacy) April 9, 2020
To further support music makers during these difficult and uncertain times, the Recording Academy and MusiCares recently established the COVID-19 Relief Fund.
If you are an artist or music professional who has been impacted by this unprecedented circumstance and are in need of assistance, please visit our MusiCares page to learn more about the financial, medical and personal emergencies services and resources offered by the Recording Academy.