San Antonio Record Label Owner Jeff Smith Predicts Coronavirus Pandemic Will Force Music Venue Closures

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The Centers for Disease Control on Sunday advised against attending gatherings of 50 or more, forcing cancellations of many regional and local live music performances.

That came after earlier warnings forced national acts to postpone national tours.



Taken together, that's rough news for musicians. Especially since the growth of streaming services means live performances are one of the few ways they can make money these days.

Jeff Smith, frontman for the cowpunk band Hickoids and owner of San Antonio-based label Saustex Records, says he doesn’t know how bad the fallout will get, but it’s not going to be pretty — for artists or the venues where they perform.



How do you think this pandemic is going to affect artists, venues and any other facet of the music industry?

Unfortunately, I think it’s gonna be hardest on the little guys. … For example Live Nation cancelled two months worth of dates — well, those artists get bonus payments up front for signing with Live Nation, and Live Nation can issue more stock or sell more bonds or however they go about raising money, but most artists [and promoters] simply do not have that option.

Is there anything artists can do to maybe supplement that income?

An artist’s point of sale is their shows, and there are no ancillary income streams for artists, or they’re so minimal that they’re totally negligible. So, by the same token, that hurts the small venues because they can’t stage shows, and they’re losing a month or more of income related to shows. And they've still got to help out their staff or pay rent. It’s pretty unfortunate all the way around. I’m hoping the fallout isn’t the closing of a lot of smaller venues, because thats then the snake eating its tail.

Do you think that the closing of venues can be a reality?

I have no doubt that it’s going to be a lot of them that close.

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