With music venues closed, artists reach out to fans online

Durand Jones and The Indications at SOhO Restaurant and Music Club in Santa Barbara. Photo credit: Donald Brubaker.

With bars, concert venues and nightclubs closed due to the COVID-19 outbreak, many of those who work in the hospitality and music industries won’t collect pay at the end of March.

“On average, I make $1,000 in a pay period,” says Alec Beloin, a manager at SOhO Restaurant and Music Club in Santa Barbara. “Losing that at the end of the month will be tough. With that paycheck, I pay my rent, my student loan, health insurance, renter's insurance, credit card payments.”

He’s not sure when his next pay day will come. Closures could continue for as long as the virus spreads.

Beloin’s coworkers are going through the same turmoil, including kitchen staff, dishwashers, cleaners, servers, bartenders, busboys, security guards and sound technicians.

“The owners have been instructing employees on how to file for unemployment with the state,” says Beloin.

The coronavirus is putting the whole music industry at a standstill. 

“Coachella got canceled and that was a huge ripple effect,” says Beloin. “Lots of touring bands that were supposed to come to SOhO canceled their tours or rescheduled to October. Everyone's on an indefinite hiatus right now. Emails are slowing down. People aren't booking as many shows.”

But the music hasn’t stopped playing altogether. Artists are taking to social and streaming platforms to play live for their fans. Many small venues are encouraging people to support musicians in real time by buying merchandise from their websites. On Friday, Bandcamp announced it’ll send 100% of sales directly to artists for one day

“We're super excited to get back to live music once all this passes,” says Beloin. “And we hope that local bands and the community come out stronger than ever in the end.”