Recording Academy interim President and CEO Harvey Mason Jr. isn’t sure that the music industry can adapt to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic without charity and government assistance.
In a recent interview with The Wrap, interim CEO Mason Jr., who is leading the Recording Academy and the Grammys while a replacement is sought for Deborah Dugan, said, “the industry is at a standstill.” Social distancing, mandatory lockdowns, and self-quarantines have prompted several artists to live-stream performances and take other innovative (and safe) steps to entertain fans and earn a living.
Even so, a growing number of musicians are feeling the financial pinch, and employees who relied on the formerly thriving live-event industry for income — event staff, road crews, venue workers, and others — are struggling to make ends meet. From SXSW to Bonnaroo and Coachella to Stagecoach, as well as many others in between, the coronavirus has halted virtually all major music festivals and tours.
In this vein, Harvey Mason Jr. also said, “I don’t see us being able to transition while we’re under these circumstances. The thing we need to try and do is help each other, help people in the music community, and help people in the general community feel better about these really difficult times.”
Mason Jr. and his organization have been quick to assist coronavirus sufferers and advocate on behalf of artists.
Last week, the Recording Academy and its charitable wing, MusiCares, donated $2 million to coronavirus relief. Additionally, Harvey Mason Jr. sent a letter to congressional leaders, in which he requested that a portion of the upcoming $1.3 trillion stimulus package benefit musicians who are unable to perform live because of large-gathering restrictions.
Also in the cited interview, Harvey Mason Jr. acknowledged the financial plight of each business sector that’s rallying for federal aid, while emphasizing that, “What we’re hearing from a lot of MusiCares members is that they don’t have enough money to continue [to pay their bills and stay financially afloat] for the next couple of days.”
Finally, the Recording Academy head stated, “I don’t think the music community is going to be able to adapt under these conditions.”
Though the mentioned $1.3 trillion (or larger; the total amount isn’t set in stone) stimulus package is reportedly close to passing in the Senate, Republican and Democratic lawmakers are clashing over a few key points. However, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and congressional leaders have signaled that the legislation should pass early this week.