[10/12/20] – 90% of Music Venues Set to Close

Musicians, labels, local venues, record store owners, merchandisers, ticket scalpers, security, and all other members of the music-industrial complex are suffering as doors have closed in response to calls from public health officials amid a global pandemic that has claimed the lives of 210,000 Americans and counting. Recently, it was estimated that nearly 90% of local music venues are at the point of having to seriously considering closing their doors for good for financial reasons. As musicians make the majority of their revenue from touring, we could be seeing a ripple effect of reduced numbers of artists on top of the millions of unemployed workers even tangentially tied to the music business. At a time when Congress and other agents of the government are apparently working to intentionally derail any stimulus package before the election, a billion-dollar network of creatives and businesses hangs in the balance. In this week’s Lecture Spark, we examine the current and potential effects of losing America’s local music venues. We examine this issue through a variety of conceptual frameworks including collective efficacy, cultural capital, and social control.

Download the PowerPoint Lecture Spark for 90% of Music Venues Set to Close

Learning Objectives

LO1: Explain the systemic social implications of the closure of 90% of music venues in the United States.

LO2:  Discuss the role of collective efficacy in sustaining the music community beyond the music venues themselves. 

LO3: Argue for or against funding of a stimulus package for music venues by Congress.


Live music industry may never be the same after COVID-19

A new study shows that even after social distancing restrictions are lifted Canadians wouldn’t feel comfortable going to a music event while some may never return. Lindsay Dunn looks at the struggle venues and artists could face going forward.

How Coronavirus Is Ushering in a New Era of Concerts | WSJ

With large gatherings limited during the coronavirus pandemic, artists are experimenting with new ways to perform, and some of these shows are already attracting millions of fans globally.

‘You can’t do live music to-go’: Music venues face extinction amid COVID-19

Discussion Questions

From a structural-functional perspective, what is the role of live music in American culture? What are some of the intended and unintended functions of live music events and venues? How might their absence create dysfunction and instability in society?

How are artists changing their live performances to adapt to the current environment? Why do artists earn the most of their money from live performances instead of the royalties from their own creative work? How might this business model foster reliance on management and effectively turn artists into employees?

What does American culture stand to lose if a majority of music venues close? How might the closure of these venues change how music is consumed and shared? How might these closures result in the prevention of some artists from reaching the mainstream? Why might the government be reluctant to provide financial stimulus to the music industry?

From a conflict perspective, why might our government not feel compelled to bailout the music industry in the same way they did the financial and automotive industries in 2008? How do music venues challenge the status quo? How do music venues contribute to social change?

How are music venues mobilizing their community to provide assistance to them and other businesses suffering financially? Why might patrons feel compelled to participate in supporting local music venues as opposed to other businesses? What do music venues add to the fabric of a community that is worth fighting to preserve?


Sociologists refer to _______ capital when discussing information necessary to successfully navigate a particular aspect of social life, such as knowledge of music and bands and venues.
a. Social
b. Music
c. Cultural
d. Systemic

A _______ sociologist would be most interested in researching individual employees of music venues as they attempt to navigate experiences of unemployment as a result of the closure of their employer.
a. Conflict
b. Symbolic-Interactionist
c. Structural-Functional
d. Rational-Choice

A structural-functionalist would argue that _______ is a latent function of live music venues.
a. generating a profit for bands
b. showcasing new talent to prospective customers
c. accumulating local tax revenue
d. All of the above

Photo credit: iStockphoto.com/icestylecg

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