September 11, 2023
Photo by Mark Angelo Sampan on
Music Industry

I’ve got some good news and bad news about the post-COVID music scene

[This was my column for – AC]

For almost two years, COVID-19 saw to it that there was no live music. Tours stopped, roadies lost their gigs, venues suffered, and support staff were laid off. But once COVID restrictions were lifted, the industry came back to life, albeit with a non-insignificant degree of difficulty.

For example, Sum 41’s Deryck Whibley told me that when they returned to the road, they had to do it old-school in a van because no tour buses were available. Most had been parked for nearly two years and weren’t roadworthy yet. Supply and demand jacked the prices of any rental agency that did have buses available and those were taken by acts who could afford it. Sum’s buses ended up going to Metallica.

There were other problems. Many roadies who were thrown out of work left the industry and didn’t want to come back. Finding enough sound and light equipment to rent was hard. Many venues didn’t survive the lockdowns and had permanently shut their doors.

But this summer has seen a return to The Before Times. Concerts and festivals have been packed. And even as Taylor Swift and Beyonce are getting the most attention for hoovering up hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars in box office revenue, other acts are doing well.

Keep reading.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 37026 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

One thought on “I’ve got some good news and bad news about the post-COVID music scene

  • Really interesting breakdown of a very sorry state of affairs. Thanks very much for this, Alan.

    Two points I feel are worth adding to this. “…, COVID-19 saw to it that there was no live music”. That and some deplorable decisions made by governments across the world. We didn’t see the same restrictions placed on sports events as we saw placed on performers. Frank Turner summed it up best when he said, “For two years the job of a touring musician became illegal”. Major sports franchises were getting special dispensation & hand outs to allow them to continue even though there was plenty of evidence they were super-spreader events.

    I don’t have any accurate numbers for this, but I feel sure the arts contribute equally as much – if not more – to the local & national economy as sports events do.

    I’m also very curious as to what happened to the burgeoning livestream industry we saw springing up during the worst of the lockdowns. I can still find livestreams for bands performing at venues around the world, but they are very rare. I felt certain in 2021 that this was a very valid revenue stream for both the performers and the venues and would grow as the world came back. As Joey Ryan of the Milk Carton Kids said when promoting one of their livestreams, “This is the first show I can guarantee we won’t sell out. We’ve got seven and a half billion tickets available”. Apparently in 2023, this is not the viable revenue stream it hinted at becoming. I agree, it’s not the same as being at the venue in the crowd, but there was no way I was going to be able to get to London to see Blur premier their latest album a couple of months ago and make it back to Toronto for work the next day. Watching it live on TV was the next best option and how many people do that with sports events every week and think nothing at all of it?


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