NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA– Louisiana music is a treasure worthy of protecting. To protect the music, you must protect the music industry.
The silence is deafening in the over 130 live music venues of New Orleans. Live music is a major part of the tourism industry of Louisiana that fuels the dollars and quenches the soul in the process. Tipitinas is a world-renowned music venue that has been in existence since the 1960’s.
In 2018, members from the jam-band Galactic bought Tipitinas is unique in that it is a live music venue that is run and owned by musicians. Likewise, it puts the owners at a unique point of view with a double set of challenges, as musicians are out of work during the coronavirus pandemic and establishments remain shuttered.
Robert Mercurio is the bass player of Galactic and says, “being on both sides of the coin, being the band and the club, and having no income has been extremely difficult to try to make ends meet.”
Recently several national organizations are pushing for music industry support. NITO, the National Independent Talent Organization and NIVA, the National Independent Venue Association are calling on congressional support. Both organizations have proposed The Restart Act and the Save Our Stage Act, which would include grants and low interest loans as part of the next stimulus bill.
There is real concern to help musicians financially. New Orleans is coming off of a bitter spring of unrealized revenue. Mercurio points out that during Jazz Fest some musicians make a large percentage of their yearly income during that those short two weeks.
Even outside of New Orleans, there are many musical cities all over the world in trouble. For instance, the University of Houston in June, found that 90 percent of Austin Texas’ live music venues are scheduled to permanently close.
Stanton Moore is the percussionist for Galactic and says “I ask anybody to imagine New Orleans without music venues. I think people expect in these days and times that music is free. Musicians are people just like everybody else and we need to pay our bills too. Both of the Save Our Stage and the Restart Act would really help save venues and the music and culture as we know it. “
There is certainly a lot of financial strain all over the world and music is but one of many casualties of the pandemic. However here’s food for thought; music is food for the soul that can help sustain the human spirit during these trying times. Perhaps that’s another reason to support creators of our beloved music and everyone part of the tourism industry.