The music industry has been overwhelmed by doom and gloom as the COVID-19 pandemic cancels concerts and closes clubs, and the fog isn't going to lift soon.
While Governor Jared Polis has signaled that he will lift Colorado's stay-at-home order after it expires on April 26, big concerts and stadium events are the lowest priority for reopening. The first phase, dubbed "safer at home," will see the return of businesses ranging from salons and tattoo parlors to retail — but all modified for public safety. Social-distancing measures will be enforced, and no more than ten people will be permitted to gather at one time.
At an April 20 press conference, Polis suggested that in order for stadium gatherings to take place, there would have to be a vaccine or a cure for coronavirus, or herd immunity. And for the foreseeable future, bars and clubs, as well as smaller venues, will remain dark, like the big halls and arenas.
That leaves people who've been working in security, concessions, ticketing and on stage crews wondering when their jobs will come back, and whether they can stay in the events business. Promoters and club owners who book venues as small as the hi-dive and as big as the Pepsi Center are trying to determine if their businesses can survive.
Some are strategizing ways to make live music accessible while also allowing proper social distancing. Doing so would be easier at open spaces like Levitt Pavilion, and almost impossible at spots like the Pepsi Center or Red Rocks.
Yet Brad Paisley is still slated to play the Pepsi Center at the end of May; a few days later, in early June, Journey and the Pretenders are scheduled to be in town, followed by Maroon 5. Of course, the chance that any of these concerts will take place is minimal. Promoters are likely holding off on announcing the fate of such shows until new dates have been set or they have been canceled outright, at which point ticket-holders will be eligible for refunds under new policies.
Bands, too, are unsure how to move forward, with many resorting to live-stream concerts — and lamenting, even more than usual, the death of album sales. In the era of online streaming, touring had been the major way most musicians made a living.
But at least gig employees — and that's many people working in the music industry — were finally able to apply for unemployment on April 20. They've also been looking at various financial aid programs like the MusiCares COVID Relief Fund from the Grammys and Crew Nation emergency grants from Live Nation. Locally, musicians themselves been applying to the Colorado Artist Relief Fund, a collaboration of Denver Arts & Venues, RedLine Contemporary and Colorado Creative Industries.
While most agree that saving lives is more important than having live concerts, the loss of tens of thousands of jobs in the music industry is heart-wrenching.
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.