We’ve been looking for the positive news around the Covid-19 pandemic in our industry, but we can’t avoid the challenges. That includes the news that one of those positive developments, the rapid raising of nearly $14m for the US-focused MusiCares Covid-19 Relief Fund, is rapidly being depleted.
“It is the largest amount of money raised, with the most recipients helped, for any single event in our history. To date this year, we’ve vetted and approved 20,200 individuals to receive assistance. For context, that’s more than double the number of music people we typically serve in one year. But, there’s still so much work to be done,” announced MusiCares late last week.
“Unfortunately, until we can raise more money for our COVID-19 Relief Fund, we can no longer accept new applications from those seeking assistance. While our goal is always to provide support to everyone in need, we are currently bound by the funds available.”
MusiCares is planning another round of fundraising, having already tapped streaming services, collecting societies, rightsholders and other industry groups for its first round. The need is certainly pressing. A survey conducted in the US last week by the Freelancers Union found that 84% of the freelancers who’d applied for government relief had yet to receive any money for it, while 66% had already lost more than $5k in income. Industry-specific funds like that of MusiCares have been trying to plug the gap.
All this is happening against a backdrop of continued uncertainty around when lockdown restrictions sparked by Covid-19 will start to be eased. In the US, that’s something that will differ from state to state – Missouri, for example, has given the go-ahead for gigs to take place again, although concertgoers will have to remain six feet apart. Even there, larger cities like St Louis and Kansas City are keeping restrictions in place.
Not to be pessimistic, but even when concerts return, there’ll be the question about how comfortable music fans feel about attending: we’ve seen a couple of US surveys in the past month which suggest a level of caution (at least until a Covid-19 vaccine is available) that makes it clear there will be no sudden re-boom in live revenues. That’s why funds like MusiCares’ (and its equivalents around the world) are so important, and it’s why we hope their follow-on fundraising rounds will be well supported by donors.