The music industry has found itself in a unique predicament during the pandemic. The global shutdown forced festivals and artists worldwide to cancel all live performances for the foreseeable future. One solution to the global quarantine has been the use of distanced concerts at drive-ins and, more popularly, streaming concerts online with the help of radio stations and other media companies.
One sector of the live performance industry that has been overlooked is the plight of independent venues. In my latest story for KCET, and my first for their new initiative Southland Sessions, I write about the National Independent Venue Association, a non-profit working with independent venues in the US to help them get the assistance they need to remain open until the pandemic ends and millions of music lovers can regroup at their favorite venues to see their favorite artists.
After 25 years of live music, The Satellite (also formerly known as Spaceland) in Silver Lake will remove its performance stage along with the infamous shimmering, sparkling, blue-and-silver curtain that served as a backdrop to thousands of nightly concerts as the owners transition the business into a restaurant for the COVID-19 era.
“We can no longer afford to wait for the day we will be allowed to have shows again,” reads a statement on the venue’s website. “If we do that, we will not have the money to continue and will be forced to close forever.”
The future of live music venues, especially independent ones, in SoCal and across the nation, looks bleak, and the present-day situation is already precarious. Venues have had no source of revenue since the announcement of the pandemic in early March and continue to struggle to survive. The statement by Satellite owner Jeff Wolfram is just one example of the extreme measures some owners are taking to keep their businesses alive in any way possible.