From Spokane to Seattle, Bellingham to Tacoma, and Bremerton to Yakima, local communities depend on live music venues to drive the economy, provide jobs, generate tourism and tax revenue, forge civic pride, and inspire meaningful opportunities for human and creative connections. WANMA is an association of independent music venues across the state of Washington.
Live music venues were the first to close due to COVID-19 and will be the last to reopen.
We are in the community-gathering business. Venues won’t throw open their doors when stay-at-home orders are lifted. Tours are cancelled. It will take six months or more just to rebook artists. In the meantime, rents are still due. Taxes, loans, insurance, venue maintenance, and other financial obligations are piling up.
Independent venues are facing widespread closures which would have a devastating effect on the greater music ecosystem- from the loss of artist, touring crew, and venue staff livelihoods to the community spaces where we gather and celebrate life through music. A recent WANMA survey of independent Washington venues revealed that 63% would permanently close by February 2021 without relief. Another 20% reported they would close in the months following, bringing the total to 83% closure by August 2021.
The economic impacts are staggering. Washington’s small to medium-sized venues sell more than 3.2 million tickets a year, generating $65.5 million in ticket revenues. WANMA’s survey figures show that in 2019, just 41 (about half) of Washington’s small, independent venues produced 10,157 shows, hosted 41,437 artists, and paid $13.3 Million directly to these artists. When the Coronavirus hit, this revenue instantly evaporated, and, with it, musician’s livelihoods. Artists make 75-90% of their income from live performances, one of the few reliable ways for artists to generate income in the age of streaming. From the stage, artists build audiences, connect with fans, and hone their skills.
Live performances bring people to our community and revenue to the tourism and service sectors. King County hosts 40.9 million visitors annually. Live music has consistently been among the top 10 reasons people travel to our state. According to Live Nation, 72% of Gen Z and Millennials have driven over 100 miles to attend a live music event. Studies have shown that for every dollar a venue generates in ticket sales, $12 of revenues are realized by area restaurants, hotels, and retail establishments. Our thriving nightlife gives companies like University of Washington, Amazon, and Microsoft an edge in recruiting workers to Washington.
Venue closures will have deep impacts across sectors. If we lose our world-renowned nightlife scene, artists, new and established, will leave our state for places where they can thrive. Venue staff will never return to the jobs they love, the community will lose places to gather, and the economic recovery of our region will suffer. We need YOUR help to protect the nightlife community we’ve co-created. Artists, staff, music fans, and venues are all in this together.