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Buy the damn T-Shirt

The further we go along with "the new norm" of social distancing, restricted capacity in public places, and exercising caution when considering opening up spaces, the more the entertainment industry suffers as a whole. Want proof? Just think of the last time you went to a concert. Saw a movie in the theater. Went out on the town with that certain someone without adding a mask to your checklist of items to carry with you.

Yes, there are still artists who are performing and still earning a living, but those numbers have been drastically reduced just as hard as the mom and pop shops throughout the country have endured. As regulations vary from province to province, state to state, country to country, I've heard the same process in place: venues open to 25% capacity, to half capacity, etc. Unfortunately, those venues are hesitant in hiring live entertainment, because there's no profit in hiring for a reduced crowd. Some venues would even just prefer to remain closed until things get better.

So what's a starving artist to do when their regular routine is affected? After all, the artist gets affected more than just financially during these times. You may have enjoyed that band that always played at your favorite watering hole down the street, but did you remember their name? Follow them on social media? buy their albums? Where are they now? Well, if they followed local regulations, they were most likely unable to experience a true rehearsal in some time, unless everyone in the band had a solid Wi-Fi connection and was able to connect to a just as solid conferencing platform to work together or, or sent audio files to each other to work with. As a bass player who worked on his licks by following the rhythm guitarists hands watching for key signature changes, This new age of collaborations would have screwed me over big time.

But we're in a state of opening things up again, so all is good again, right? Wrong. The way I see it, bands have to get back in rehearsal mode, and get back to the playing caliber they were in when they were performing regularly. That portion alone could be a couple days, or a couple months, depending on additional factors not needing to be elaborated further here. From that point however, IF they have the ability to play somewhere, they need to find a way to bring their fan interest back to peak levels. If you were a casual fan before the pandemic, you're at risk of being a lost fan after everything is said and done.

Different venues have different pay scales for the artists they bring in. Some offer a flat rate, some offer commission of sales, and some offer door/admission fees. I've never seen a situation however where if the band had merch they couldn't peddle it, or at least announce "hey, come see us after the show to buy our SWAG" - But who knows, maybe they do exist.

The next time you get a chance to see a band on stage: If you like what you hear, let them know you appreciate their efforts. Tell them how they did on stage. Get their name and see if they have social media sites to follow. Tell your friends and family about them so they can check them out as well. And yes... buy the damn T-Shirt.

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