Conor talks COVID-19’s impact on the live music biz; Omaha venues go to #RedAlertRESTART tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 12:50 pm September 1, 2020
Bright Eyes at Westfair Amphitheater, June 4, 2011.

Bright Eyes’ Conor Oberst knows how COVID-19 is killing the live music industry.

In an outtake from an interview last month, which will appear in the September issue of The Reader (on newsstands any day now), Oberst talked about how the pandemic is impacting independent agencies like Ground Control Touring, who has been his booking agent for more than 20 years.

He said Eric Dimenstein at Ground Control Touring asked him to get involved with efforts like the National Independent Talent Organization‘s (NITO’s) push to get legislation passed that will help venues and the entire independent live music ecosystem survive. Oberst said it’s vital that they get federal support with the Save Our Stages and RESTART acts to insure there is a live music ecosystem on the other side.

The problem is very real, and with Congress sitting on its hands last month getting nothing passed, you’re going to start seeing real impacts in the form of venues closing (Lookout Lounge, for example), and support industries like booking agencies trying to figure out how to survive until the pandemic gets stomped down.

That’s one of the reasons why there’s a Red Alert tonight (Sept. 1), where #WeMakeEvents, a coalition of trade bodies, businesses, unions and live events workers, will light up their venues, homes and cities red in more than 1,500 locations across the country to raise public awareness and media awareness in support of the live events sector.

Among the Omaha organizations participating tonight are:

Bob Kerrey Bridge
Event Staging Systems
Audio Visions
FadeUp Design Group
IATSE Local 42
Theater Arts Guild Omaha
Anastasis Theatre
Baxter Arena
Benson B Side
Film Streams
Omaha Community Playhouse
Omaha Performing Arts
Radio Theatre Omaha
Reverb Lounge
The Backline
The Rose
The Slowdown
The Trap Room
The Waiting Room
University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) Theatre Department

You can participate, too. Again, you need to contact your representatives using the form on this web page:

You can also show support by posting a red-tinted photo of your favorite live event to your social media with the following caption:

RedAlertRESTART: the live events we love may never recover from the pandemic, we need to take action! Take 2 minutes to contact your representatives here, and post a red photo of you at your favorite event, too: #WeMakeEvents #ExtendPUA

You can turn your photo red here:

Let me leave you with some stats from the WeMakeEvents website to gnaw on:

  • Live events employ over 12 million people.
  • Live events contributes over $1 trillion annually to the US economy.
  • 95% of live events have been cancelled due to COVID-19.
  • 96% of companies have cut staff and/or wages.
  • 77% of people in the live events industry have lost 100% of their income, including 97% of 1099 workers.

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2011 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.