So now what?
With the governor’s announcement that hotels, restaurants and other locations will be opening at 50% what role will music and the arts play in the soft opening? Will the live performance industry get back to your normal? The short answer is no. While hotels and restaurants will open, the places where people congregate within those businesses, bars and lobbies, are still verboten and will remain so for some time.
In addition, all of these businesses have taken a huge financial hit. Some have closed permanently. Few, if any of them will want to spend the money to hire a band or create an event to entertain customers. Believe it or not, this works to your advantage and it will bring some exciting and profitable changes to the music industry in New Mexico.
Supply and Demand.
With the general public aching to get back to normal, some will head to the first restaurant, bar or pub they can get to, but make no mistake, many will be reticent to venture out. With the ramping up of pay per view and home meal delivery, some folks will just decide that home is the most comfortable place to be. The market will shrink.
As with any reduction in market share, market share dollars shrink. There will be a demand for audience and for their money. The conundrum for venue owners is how do you get butts in the seats without spending money you don’t have on advertising or entertainment?
You are the answer.
As a musician/artist, you have the ability to draw a crowd without cost to the venue owner. Your social media marketing, done correctly can bring people in. Your event has just become a draw and both you and the venue are the beneficiaries.
This is not a new concept.
Consider the Santa Monica, California boardwalk and market square. The city of Santa Monica requires all buskers to apply for and carry a license to perform. In the market square and on the boardwalk, you can find them spaced 10-20 feet apart. There are musicians, jugglers, stand-up comedians, Shakspearian actors, painters and more.
Performers are not allowed to solicit donations from the crowd in any way, shape or form; no signage asking for money, no hands out and no tip jars. Each customer is allowed to give as much or as little as they wish. The best, most creative and most entertaining artists are in demand by shop owners, invited to perform in front of their shops as a way to draw a crowd. Some shop owners pay artists to perform. By bringing a crowd into an audience starved venue, you become much more valuable than you were before the shutdown.
If you haven’t already taken these steps, you need to do so now.
1. Reach out. You should have already reached out to the places where you have always played asking them what their plan for re-opening might be.
2. Offer assistance at no cost. Tell the venue owner/manager that you are willing to produce an event at no cost to them, something like a “Post-pandemic Party” or “Grand re-opening.”
3. Once you have secured the gig, alert your fan base. Your fan base is key. If you can fill the venue to capacity (currently 50%) you will have done your job bringing in an audience.
4. Let your fan base know what you are doing. Sell tickets online, ask fans for a contribution via Paypal or some other virtual payment site or set a small cover charge at the door.
5. Make sure that you offer a few extras to the venue like streaming or shooting some video of the event for marketing the next gig.
There are other events that you can create for yourself. Most small non-profit venues in smaller towns rent their venues for a small fee. Even at 25% capacity an artist can usually make a decent profit. This is nothing new, by the way. It’s just that most artists are not willing to take on the financial risk.
Remember, all of the money designated for cancelled events in these cities must be spent by the end of the fiscal year. In most cases, that date is June 30th. If they don’t spend it, cultural services programs lose that money.
Finally, while concerts and festivals have largely been cancelled for the rest of the year, concert venues will need to do something that will offset their losses. Reach out to these companies and find out if they have plans to try and re-coup their losses.
If you haven’t considered film yet, do so. Sign up with a casting agent and list your music skills. Learn how to market your music to film and TV. Our bet is that music and live events will come back in a big way in the latter half of 2020 and into 2021. In fact, if your smart, you will start booking for the rest of the decade.