CMA Hosting Webinar To Provide Music Industry With Resources For COVID Support


No one could’ve imagined, when the first reports of COVID-19 began leaking out, that nine months later the numbers could still be surging. For the live entertainment business, catastrophic was months ago – and there’s still no clear-cut resolution.
Recognizing the impact across the entire industry, the Country Music Association has created a platform of resources, programs and information to help anyone in our community looking for relief.
The clearinghouse starts here: It is an evolving list of resources, programs for emotional and financial support, and an attempt to create community for an industry that – due to its nonlinear nature – often doesn’t fall into the more traditional aid packages being offered to people in conventional businesses. Always aggressive about giving back, CMA CEO Sarah Trahern and VP of Community Outreach Tiffany Kerns took time to explain the motivations for creating an alliance of more than 20 organizations including MusiCares, the Academy of Country Music’s Lifting Lives and National Independent Venues Association’s Save Our Stages to create a place where people can come – regardless of genre – for answers, help and strategy.
Tomorrrow – Thursday, Dec. 10 – at 12:30 PM Central Time – the CMA hosts an informal webinar to explain the resources and services available.  Click HERE for more information.
Pollstar: When this started in March, what did you think your role in aiding the industry would be? Or even the need to help? 
Tiffany Kerns: We are a trade organization. We have always put the industry first. We were built to do this. People need shepherding, and having our nonprofit arm, it has allowed us to tap into that expertise and offer assistance. We didn’t want to just provide aid based on assumptions. We have learned directly from our members and the industry at large what the needs are.
Sarah Trahern
– Sarah Trahern, CEO of CMA
Sarah Trahern: There are so many organizations doing great work. We supported MusiCares with a $1 million donation this spring. ACM’s Lifting Lives has done an excellent job putting money  into the hands of those in need. NIVA’s efforts with their Save Our Stages campaign made a huge impact. Because of CMA’s tax status as a not-for-profit organization, we cannot give directly to individuals. 
We created this initiative to supply and serve nonprofits. The need is so much broader than just one genre. We need to keep the people who make our music alive. We have started pulling together other music organizations that provide aid and we are facilitating conversations. The alliance is in its infancy, but by joining together we will be stronger than any of us individually.
What are the greatest areas of need/help/response you’ve either identified or delivered in?
TK: No one will say they are food insecure. Most people think that being food insecure is being homeless. That is not the case. If your partner is out of work and your household is down an income, it’s OK to ask for help. By accepting assistance with food, it offsets that cost so you can apply your funds somewhere else. Our resources website should be everyone’s first stop. We have spent months listening to the needs of our people and compiling this assistance. If there’s something we’re missing, we want to hear from you. Please email us at [email protected]. We have found that essential needs are ever-changing.  
ST: We want to reach that broad group of people impacted, especially those in the touring industry that might not be on an association’s email list. Even if someone reading this hasn’t directly been affected, you might have a friend in the business suffering. Our industry is such a friend-to-friend business. We’re not asking for anything other than to sign up to hear from us and access these resources.  
What’s the most surprising reality that’s emerged from these circumstances?
TK: I still can’t wrap my head around how immediate the industry impact was. We hear from people who were making a living. and suddenly they will not have a home by the end of the year. Our industry went from 100 to zero, it happened so fast. You hear about people falling on tough times, but usually that happens over a period. 
I think about live music and the depths of what it takes — it’s not just the venues, it’s the ushers, food and beverage distributors, buses, equipment, the list goes on and the ripple effect is huge. 
But there are so many people supporting the artists who have been impacted. There are so many hard-working individuals who have been in their jobs for years, for decades. It’s hard for them to imagine doing anything else. They don’t even know where to start. Not everyone is equipped to know what to do next. Those are the people we want to reach. 
ST: Our business has been so healthy for so long and to have the impact of this be so absolute, it’s devastating. One of the things that has been most challenging for people is there is no real sense of when things will get back to normal. The ongoing uncertainty has created more stress in people. 
We are often overlooked and forgotten. Some people see the music business as the artists, the superstars. They don’t think about the venue people, the truck drivers, the riggers, the sound people, the merch companies, the advertising people who support the tours and everything else these artists do. Because so many music businesses are non-traditional, some of the restrictions with government aid packages have not been applicable to people in our business. Some of that is thankfully changing, and that’s the goal of a lot of us working on these challenges.
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