It’s a brave new world for musicians, and even the biggest ones in the business have to figure out in a hurry how to navigate a path that’s suddenly much narrower.
This week, Taylor Swift announced that she was canceling live appearance for the rest of the year. That included two big opening night concerts for L.A’s SoFi Stadium.
With some predicting that the concert and club industry is out of business until 2021, musicians – most of whom rely on touring and merchandise sales as a solid block of income – will be stuck at home, and stuck without a substantial portion of their income.
One potential source of income is already emerging with Zoom. Smaller artists in particular are building more intimate bridges with fans, and will no doubt find even more ways to create new revenue streams based on that.
This week in music:
PAUL COOPER DIES: Paul Cooper, a veteran music industry executive for more than 50 years, passed away on March 26 at age 76. His storied career included many years at Universal Music Group as Vice President, Atlantic/Warner Records as Senior VP and General Manager, and A&M Records.
AB5 AMENDED: Professional musicians breathed a sigh of relief, as multiple music organizations have successfully lobbied to amend the “gig worker” bill that would have limited their options. Most pro musicians will now be able to avoid limitations that would have required them to either declare themselves employees or made it difficult for others to hire them as contractors.
ANDREA BOCELLI SOARS: The Italian tenor’s Easter Sunday performance, streamed via YouTube, set a record for the biggest audience for a classical live stream in that service’s history. Bocelli’s “Music For Hope — Live From Duomo di Milano” reached over 2.8 million peak concurrent viewers, according to YouTube. That also makes it one of the biggest musical live-stream performances of all time.
THAT ZOOM YOU DO: The Wonders — the fictional band at the heart of Tom Hanks’s film That Thing You Do! — reunited via Zoom to watch and provide commentary to the 1996 film. The event raised money for MusiCares COVID-19 Relief Fund.Actors Johnathon Schaech, Tom Everett Scott, Steve Zahn and Ethan Embry called in from their respective quarantines for their first reunion in 24 years.
REO SPEEDOZARKS: The Ozarks harkened back to one of classic rock’s bigger bands this week with an episode titled “Kevin Cronin Was Here,” an homage to REO’s vocalist. The show featured a live performance of the band’s Time for Me to Fly,, along with lead character Wendy (played by Emmy Award® Winner Laura Linney) singing along to the song in her car. The band is having a bit of a renaissance with several songs charting on Billboard’s Hot Rock Songs listings.
LIVE NATION AIN’T DEAD YET: Few companies in entertainment have been hit harder than Live Nation, which has seen its events business basically evaporate. To combat this, CEO and President Michael Rapino is giving up his salary, and other senior executives have taken extreme haircuts. The company said it hopes to slash expenditures by $500 million. It also announced it has opened a new credit line for $120 million. Live Nation said cost reduction efforts will include “hiring freezes, reduction in the use of contractors, rent re-negotiations, furloughs, and reduction or elimination of other discretionary spending, including, among other things, travel and entertainment, repairs and maintenance, and marketing.”