YouTube Music and the National Independent Venue Association’s “Save Our Stages” virtual festival, which took place last weekend, has raised $1.8 million for struggling venues, officials have revealed.
35 artists, including the Foo Fighters, Reba McEntire, Marshmello, Demi Lovato, and YG, performed as part of the Save Our Stages virtual festival (#SOSFEST) from NIVA and YouTube Music. And in an interesting contrast to most other remote concerts, the participating musicians livestreamed their sets from indie venues across the country, which are continuing to struggle financially as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and its lockdown measures.
In total, the three-day-long digital event raised some $1.8 million for NIVA’s Emergency Relief Fund, according to organizers. As the NIVA Emergency Relief Fund plug-in featured on the gigs’ YouTube videos currently indicates that supporters have offered $1.28 million worth of donations, it appears that the remaining $500,000 or so derived from merchandise sales.
On NIVA’s Save Our Stages website, t-shirts, hats, masks, artist-specific posters, and more are available for purchase presently. One item, a poster commemorating Dave Matthews’ show from The Jefferson Theater in Charlottesville, Virginia (where the South African formed his namesake band), has sold out. Interestingly, Independent Venue Week, a similar, seven-day long happening that’s set to kick off tomorrow and also benefit the NIVA Emergency Relief Fund, will auction over 70 pieces of music memorabilia.
During the leadup to #SOSFEST – and until its conclusion last Sunday – venue owners in need of financial aid were encouraged to submit applications for assistance. International non-profit organization (NPO) The Giving Back Fund is processing these submissions and handling the distribution of funds for NIVA, which formed following a meeting of 75 indie venues, festivals, and promoters in March. (Membership has since swelled past 2,000.)
In the more than six months since its establishment, New York City-based NIVA has emphasized the unprecedented losses that the live event space is facing due to the novel coronavirus pandemic and ongoing large-gathering bans. Furthermore, several separate surveys and reports have underscored the difficulty and far-reaching effects of the disruption to crowd-based entertainment.
Earlier this week, for instance, the UK’s LIVE revealed in a report that the British live music sphere will lose nearly 170,000 jobs by 2020’s end, affecting 64 percent of those who work in the industry. The live music advocate also specified that 15 percent of employees have already exited the industry. In response to the study, Van Morrison, a vocal critic of large-gathering restrictions, lamented the “decimation of a sector.”
Separately, 55 percent of British musicians said in a survey that they’re not earning anything from music at the moment, and The Los Angeles Philharmonic canceled over 100 Disney concert hall events (through June of 2021) on Wednesday.