Hundreds of independent music venues say they may be forced to close permanently due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. In a new survey of 2,000 venues, 90 percent of those polled say a prolonged shutdown and a lack of federal support will result in their permanent shutdown.

The National Independent Venue Association — which includes 2,000 member venues across all 50 states — surveyed its members to get the reported results. Beyond the venues' closures, though, a prolonged shutdown due to the virus will have wider economic ramifications: If the live music industry remains closed through the end of 2020, Pollstar estimates a loss of up to $8.9 billion in ticket sales.

Further, Pollstar estimates that each concert attendee spends about $10 on food and merch, to say nothing of what's spent on transportation, lodging and restaurants when fans travel to shows.

"If one were to add the multiplier effect of each ticket, what revenues are generated off each ticket and who is earning income across the entirety of the live music industry economy, it wouldn’t take too much calculus to arrive at a full economic impact as high as an estimated $20 billion," Pollstar explains.

The NIVA formed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and is lobbying Congress to adjust its Paycheck Protection Program to include independent music venues, which are currently making no money, but still have mortgages and other bills to pay.

"The shutdown is indefinite and likely to extend into 2021, as our venues are in the last stage of reopening," NIVA explains. "The ability to open at partial capacity is not economically feasible ... Due to the national routing of most tours, our industry will not recover until the entire country is open at 100 percent capacity."

One-hundred and fifty Congress members have expressed their support for NIVA's requests. "These venues support the economies of communities across the country, are a crucial component of the music industry’s ecosystem, and serve as incubators and launch pads for the most popular talent in the world,” their statement explains (quote via Consequence of Sound).

NIVA is also asking live music fans to support their requests by contacting legislators.

While some artists have been organizing drive-in concerts, and others have planned socially distanced shows, a timeline for the return of live music and other mass gatherings in their pre-pandemic forms is still unclear. Until a COVID-19 vaccine is available, they will remain risky endeavors, a fact that, per a recent survey, may keep many fans from attending shows even if they return before a vaccine is produced.

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