The music community has been hit especially hard by the coronavirus outbreak, with the cancellation or postponement of festivals large and small, entire concert tours and individual performances nationwide.
In response, the Recording Academy and its philanthropic arm, the MusiCares Foundation, on Tuesday announced a new $2 million fund earmarked to aid musicians affected by the COVID-19 health crisis, from those who have been infected and need treatment to those who have lost work and may be struggling to meet rent or mortgage payments, health insurance costs or other financial burdens.
It’s one of a number of resources that have cropped up as the coronavirus threat has broadened. The long-running nonprofit Sweet Relief musicians’ relief organization also has established a COVID-19 support fund for affected musicians and others who work in the music industry.
As separate-but-related nonprofit organizations, the Recording Academy and MusiCares each have contributed $1 million to start the relief fund and invited others to donate at the new COVID-19 Relief Fund website. Musicians in need are being advised to check in at MusiCares’ site.
“I can never remember a time when this many people in general, let alone music creatives, have been facing such loss of income and loss of opportunity,” academy board chairman and interim CEO Harvey Mason Jr. told The Times on Tuesday.
“It has hit our community especially hard — not just the musicians who create but all the people working around them: sound engineers, mixers, the cartage guys (who handle instruments and equipment) and so many others,” he said. “All of them do work that is predicated on having a show to perform.”
Mason said he’s hearing from members of the music community from all strata, “from people losing income because of canceled shows and tours to people who are sick or caring for people who have coronavirus.”
Additionally, a grassroots lobbying campaign is underway at Change.org, the petition website, urging federal lawmakers to provide support to the event industry that employs so many musicians and music industry personnel. As of Tuesday afternoon, a “COVID-19 Federal Aid Package for Events Industry” petition had logged more than 240,000 signatures toward its goal of 300,000 signees.
In the meantime, Recording Academy chairman Mason pointed to a number of ways musicians are already adapting to challenging circumstances.
“Some artists are performing (streamed over social media) from their homes or their personal studios. People are doing it to help heal, and to bring people together. If we can combine that with a fund-raising appeal, then we can take that back to the people who most need help right now.”