Music venues are struggling. Shows have been canceled since March, and it may be a while before they can resume. Even when they do, they likely won’t be at full capacity, making it harder for the venues to be sustainable.
Live music is important to Charlotte. It’s not just the venue owners who depend on it. It’s musicians, bartenders, booking agents, sound technicians, and the people who work the door. And that’s just a start. Music provides employment for a lot of people in Charlotte.
Music is central to the cultural life of our city. If music venues have to close their doors, or if musicians have to give up their creative work, the Charlotte that we come back to will not be the Charlotte that we have known. It will be too quiet, not to mention too boring and too lonely.
We’ve put together a list of some ways to help. Can you think of others? Let us know!
10 ways to help keep live music alive in Charlotte
Contribute to music venues’ fundraisers
Some local venues have started fundraisers to help their employees and to keep the business going. You should be able to find them on the venue’s website or Facebook page. If you’ve gone to a show at one of these venues, please consider donating now. Even a small amount helps.
Here are some we know about. Please let us know about others!
Buy a t-shirt
Neighborhood Theatre is selling t-shirts with images from their marquee during this shut-down. Two choices, one more “safe for your work Zoom meeting” than the other. Purchase here.
Evening Muse is selling t-shirts. Purchase here.
Support CLT Music Venues is selling a t-shirt that supports 8 local venues. Purchase here.
Tommy’s Pub is selling t-shirts. Purchase here.
Follow your favorite venues on social media to see if they’re selling beer or other merchandise to go. Tommy’s Pub has been selling to-go beer almost every day, and sometimes even has bake sales! Follow them on Facebook to get updates.
Donate money to a music venue even if they don’t have a fundraiser
Not every local independent music venue has started a gofundme, but I don’t know of any that can’t use donations right now. If you’d like to do that, just message them via email or Facebook and ask them how you can contribute.
Here are links for donating to a couple great local music venues:
Follow the music venues on social media
If there are other ways to help the venues, they’ll post on Facebook. For instance, during this time without shows several venues have held beer sales, where customers could come by and purchase the beer that the venue had already purchased to sell at shows. Win/win!
Contribute to the Charlotte Music Relief Fund
Music Everywhere CLT started the Charlotte Music Relief Fund for local musicians. This grant program is designed to aid individuals in the Charlotte music community in meeting basic needs due to the loss of music-related income.
Save Our Stages Campaign
National Independent Venue Association (NIVA) is an organization representing music venues across the country, including Charlotte venues The Evening Muse, Visulite Theatre, Petra’s, Free Range Brewing, Neighborhood Theatre, Amos’ Southend, and Snug Harbor. They have an easy-to-fill-out form that will go to your senators and representative, asking them to do what they can to save our music stages, through legislative action.
Join musicians’ Patreon accounts
Patreon is a way to donate a small amount of money every month to an artist who you want to support. It relieves a great deal of pressure from musicians when they know that they have income coming in no matter what. Usually artists offer “perks” at different levels of contributions. You might get access to a Patreon-only video or song, a behind-the-scenes look at the creative process, or a first listen to soon-to-be released music. Just go to Patreon.com and search for your favorite artists to see if they are on the platform. You can change your support level or stop at any time.
There doesn’t seem to be a way to search on Patreon for artists or organizations in a specific location or region, so you just have to look around.
Maxx Music (which books for Neighborhood Theatre, Blumenthal Performing Arts venues, Oven’s Auditorium and Free Range Brewing) does have a Patreon account.
Buy music or merchandise from local musicians
Resolve to buy a CD, vinyl album, t-shirt, poster or other merchandise from a musician or band that you like. Bonus points if it’s a local band!
Watch musicians’ livestreams, and tip
I hate to ever use the expression “silver lining” about our current situation, but here I go. Right now you can see more music in livestreams than ever before. Artists are performing on their front porches, in their living rooms, in their bedrooms. You can communicate with the artist before and after the performance, and make a request, or ask a question. You’ll never get a chance to see more live music in such an intimate way again.
You can find a list of livestreams by local musicians at Music Everywhere CLT’s Facebook page, and we list them here on Charlotte on the Cheap too.
When you watch the stream, please share it, and, most importantly, tip. You’ll almost always see links for tips through the artist’s venmo or paypal account. Sometimes the virtual shows are raising money for charitable causes, but please don’t forget about the artist. Often the singer will be performing in the livestream but sharing the proceeds with other members of the band who can’t really perform solo shows. Like bass players.
If you can’t afford to tip, just share the livestream. You could be creating a new fan for the band.
Don’t ask for refunds for canceled shows
If you have tickets to a show at a small venue that’s been canceled or postponed, and if you can afford it, tell the venue that they can keep the money. Obviously, many of us are hurting financially right now, and maybe you can’t afford to do this. But if you can, please consider it.
Most important: Go to shows
When shows start back up, and when you feel it’s safe, go. Make a promise to yourself that you’ll support live music when it comes back. Bring a friend. As a famous songwriter said, “you don’t know what you’ve got ’till it’s gone.” Right now we have a taste of what that could be like. Let’s not let it happen.