The Danforth Music hall was set to open its doors to the country rebel and Grammy Award-winning artist Tanya Tucker on Thursday, but like every music venue across the country, their doors are shut because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The venue is used to hosting sold-out shows from artists around the world but a new study by Music Canada shows that even after social distancing restrictions are lifted, those crowds may never fully return.
“We knew about the health issues, and that it was going to have a big impact on how music got back on its feet,” Graham Henderson, Music Canada President and CEO, told CityNews. “We also knew about the impact on the economy that it was going to have a huge impact on our community. But, what we didn’t understand was just how the consumer was going to impact us.”
Henderson and Music Canada had Abacus Data conduct a study on how Canadians would feel about returning to music venues after social restrictions were lifted.
Some of the results were shocking.
It showed that more than 40 per cent of Canadians wouldn’t feel comfortable going to a music event until at least six months after social distancing restrictions were lifted and more than 20 per cent probably wouldn’t go to a concert again after the pandemic was over.
The findings of our research conducted by @abacusdataca are not only significant for the music industry, but they are important for the travel and tourism industries as well https://t.co/XmnOXl3zyn pic.twitter.com/wj7wCC26ss
— Music Canada (@Music_Canada) May 18, 2020
“Because there’s no revenue, we had to lay off all the staff temporarily,” Shaun Bowring, Owner of The Garrison and Baby G, said. “All the employees that work at the locations, 95 per cent of them are musicians. So they’re doubly hit right now, so it’s been a very difficult time.”
Bowring has teamed up with venues around the city and across Canada to try and help each other during these tough times. They’re trying to secure federal funding to help keep the live music community from crumbling.
“I’ve been on 600 Zoom meetings and half of them are about reopening and the safety standards and protocols, and they’re pretty much not attainable for music venues,” said Bowring.
The Music Canada study also showed that more people are listening to music more than before the pandemic started and it’s helping them discover new artists and also helping relieve stress.
Toronto band July Talk have been working on their new album that is set to be released July 10 for the last two years.
Their new single “Identical Love” is helping garner new fans from around the world, but normally, they would be out touring their new music.
“It’s really everything for us,” Leah Fay of July Talk said. “It’s the first time we have never had travel plans in the near future for the last six or seven years”
“July Talk started as a live band because that’s just who we were,” July Talk singer Peter Dreimanis added. “And now that’s being pushed into question.”
They are not alone.
Henderson said for most recording artists in Canada, the money they make to put their kids in school, feed their families and their livelihoods, is from touring.
“My wife is an artist, she is part of The Cowboy Junkies. Her pandemic is going to last, like many other artists, six plus months longer than everybody else’s. So, what are we going to do?” said Henderson
July Talk, known for making changes and pushing boundaries, stepped up and found a way to give a social distancing concert that will help bring in some revenue and give music lovers a release. It’s not at a traditional venue, it’s at a drive-in.
“The show is going to be incredible,” Dreimanis said with a smile. “We have a seven camera set-up that will be set up around the drive-in and will be live-broadcasting show on the screens so you can watch from your car with the audio being sent to your FM stereo. We will be performing on a stage between two screens.”
The location will be in the GTA on August 12 and 13, but the exact location hasn’t been confirmed yet.
Canadian country singer Brett Kissel has also announced he will be performing a drive-in show as well. It will be just outside of Edmonton on June 13.