The New York State government has prohibited “licensed on-premises establishments” such as bars, restaurants, and clubs from hosting ticketed live music events or advertising performances – even if they’re socially distanced.
Update: The New York State Liquor Authority has responded to the ban on advertised and/or ticketed live music performances with a statement.
New York government officials recently disclosed the guideline concerning ticketed live music events in a ‘Q&A’ about the state’s Phase 3/4 reopening requirements. “Only incidental music is permissible at this time. This means that advertised and/or ticketed shows are not permissible,” the document reads. “Music should be incidental to the dining experience and not the draw itself.”
The concise regulation doesn’t elaborate upon the subject, and it appears that law-abiding establishments may be able to adhere to the non-ticketed/”incidental” specification through merchandise sales, “optional” tip jars, and similar measures.
In the same vein, one would assume that a carefully coordinated word-of-mouth effort won’t technically constitute advertising as the Q&A outlines. But for bar, restaurant, and club owners, the stakes are decidedly high, as New York government administrators will reportedly suspend the liquor licenses of businesses found advertising shows or violating lockdown rules.
Moreover, despite the aforementioned potential workarounds, other New York State stipulations for live music events are more concrete.
First, “restaurants and other on premises food and beverage establishments premises” with a New York State Liquor Authority license “are only allowed to offer on-premise music if their license certificate specifically allows for such activity…a manufacturer that has an on premises license also must assure that its on premises license certificate specifically allows for the type of music it is offering.
“Generally incidental music is the only form of live entertainment which is permissible in a bar/restaurant setting currently (in any phase of New York Forward) – so long as see above [sic] FAQ on live music,” the Q&A proceeds. That last part seems to outlaw stand-up comedy sets and more in bars and restaurants.
In a further testament to the depth of the specifications, bowlers “must remain seated except to enter/exit/bowl/use the restrooms.” Plus, bowling alley “patrons should not consume drink or food while standing.”
A multitude of bar and restaurant owners (as well as artists) are speaking out against the ban of ticketed live entertainment shows, but the Liquor Authority hasn’t publicly commented on the decision. At the time of this writing, over 4,900 individuals had signed a petition calling for the reversal of live music’s essential prohibition in New York.
Part of the petition’s description reads: “Advertising and ticket sales are essential in a musician’s success but the current guidelines state we can no longer advertise even the smallest of shows, including when musicians are background dinner music. This has crossed the line.”
Earlier this month, we reported that NYPD officers had made arrests in connection with a “floating nightclub” and shut down a non-socially distanced rave beneath the Kosciuszko Bridge. And in late July, an “appalled” Governor Cuomo ordered an investigation into a packed Chainsmokers concert in the Hamptons.