Buried beneath the terrible human toll of the pandemic is collateral injury carried out to companies depending on individuals coming by their doorways. None have been tougher hit than music venues, which rely on — or somewhat, survive — by packing as many individuals shoulder to shoulder into their 4 partitions as usually as potential.
In Austin, house to lots of of locations to see dwell music, the shutdown has been acute and punishing. It started when the long-lasting restaurant Threadgills, which for many years featured dwell music as their fundamental aspect dish, known as it quits. Many closures would comply with, together with downtown indie-rock mainstay Barracuda.
Accelerated progress in Austin was already placing the squeeze on downtown rents, even pre-pandemic. Barracuda proprietor Jason McNeely defined their resolution: “When individuals come right into a music venue, they see it when it is packed. However the remainder of the week, it is an empty area that does not actually generate plenty of revenue for us.”
But for a metropolis that champions itself as a bastion for dwell music, the urgency didn’t appear to be felt. Again in August 2019, the town agreed to distribute a portion of lodge taxes to assist venues meet their rising prices. It might be December 2020 earlier than the town council requested a plan for distributing the $2.5 million.
Equally, solely a small portion of $31 million in CARES help acquired in the summertime — $800,000 — went towards serving to music venues.
In the meantime, with most venues shuttered and landlords threatening eviction, the state of affairs grew much more determined. As outlined in our story “Running Out the Clock on Austin Music Venues,” native musicians and venue homeowners started demonstrating in entrance of Metropolis Corridor, which ultimately bowed to public strain and introduced a SAVES initiative in October that went on-line in late December; it included $5 million in help for music venues and one other $5 million for legacy companies. In the meantime, venues needed to determine if they may keep it up. And the way.
“A few of them are having to do issues that they don’t seem to be comfy or able to do,” mentioned Rebecca Reynolds, president of the Austin VenueAlliance. “It is a matter of public well being.”
Including insult to damage, one of many metropolis’s most essential live performance promoters, Margin Walker, introduced in December it was shutting down.
Now, even with eviction bans prolonged and a few help starting to stream, the state of affairs remains to be removed from resolved.
All through the shutdown, our KUT News reporters, Pause/Play podcast hosts, and multimedia producers have coated every thing associated to our beloved music venues’ survival. Listed below are their tales. —Jeff McCord
Music Venues Wrestle To Adapt
In the third episode of the Pause/Play podcast, hosts Elizabeth McQueen and Miles Bloxson converse with homeowners of two longtime music venues in regards to the ongoing uncertainty surrounding the return of dwell music in Austin.
Hear as Brodie Elkins tells the story of Scratchouse, which closed as a result of pandemic. Then Maggie Lea and Tamara Hoover discuss how they’ve stored their venue, Cheer Up Charlies, afloat and clarify what it has been wish to get able to reopen.
The Unsteady Return of Stay Music
Within the fall of 2020, dwell music slowly began returning to venues in a position to comply with new security precautions put in place by metropolis and state well being officers. In a two-part collection, the Pause/Play podcast featured individuals throughout the spectrum of the Austin music scene to speak about their dwell music experiences through the pandemic.
In the first episode, you may hear from a number of musicians about their first performances for the reason that starting of the pandemic, an area promoter on new challenges going through dwell occasions, and host Elizabeth McQueen from the attitude of an avid dwell music fan.
In the second part, Pedro Carvalho and Lawrence Boone from the venue The Far Out Lounge discuss how they’ve managed to remain open and have constant dwell music. Then, KUT reporter Andrew Weber takes you to a present known as Dumpster Fireplace. Matt Ott from the Austin non-profit Black Fret brings you views from an indoor present at ACL Stay. And host Miles Bloxson talks to 3 followers about their threat tolerances and relationships with dwell music throughout COVID.
Texas Loses Largest Impartial Occasion Promoter
In one other blow to our already reeling music scene, late final 12 months, Austin-based indie promoter Margin Walker introduced it was ceasing operations.
With the dwell touring trade shut down since March, and with little hope of it resuming anytime quickly, the corporate said in its announcement on social media that the choice ‘just about made itself.’ In this episode of the Pause/Play podcast, Graham Williams, the founding father of Margin Walker, discusses his journey within the Austin music scene and explains why 9 months into the pandemic he determined to shut Texas’s largest unbiased live performance promoter for good.
A Pageant Survives
Like many dwell music occasions, the City Music Pageant finds itself struggling to outlive through the pandemic. Earlier than the pandemic, the City Music Fest introduced as much as 12,000 attendees to Austin’s Auditorium Shores to look at performers like Boyz 2 Males, Frankie Beverly and Maze, En Vogue, Charlie Wilson, The Ohio Gamers, Brandy and plenty of extra.
In this episode of the Pause/Play podcast, competition founder Homer Hill tells the story of the Urban Music Fest and the way it’s been hit arduous by the pandemic. You will additionally be taught the historical past of the competition, and listen to the challenges Hill has confronted in his 30-plus years as a Black enterprise proprietor in Austin.