Local Current Blog

Coronavirus impact on Minnesota music scene: What we know right now

Attendees at the Fillmore Minneapolis during Brandi Carlile's concert there in February 2020. (Nate Ryan/MPR)

There’s a huge amount of uncertainty right now around everything involving the coronavirus pandemic and our responses to it. What activities can go on, and what activities need to be called off? For how long?

With large public gatherings and travel, particularly international travel, being discouraged or banned around he world, the global music industry has been massively disrupted. Here’s what we know about some of the impacts on the Minnesota music scene. Updated March 14, 5:15 p.m.

Will concerts go on?

For at least the near future, with rare exceptions, no. Performing arts venues across Minnesota have effectively gone dark, with immediate postponements or cancellations affecting nearly all shows and public events through the month of March.

Live Nation and AEG, the nation’s largest promoters, are suspending all concert tours. Variety reports that they are among a group of live-entertainment companies working together to coordinate a response to the ongoing health emergency; Independent Venue Week is also launching an initiative “to provide venues with a platform that provides these individual business ventures with the tools, resources, and community that they will need to ride out this storm.”

On Friday evening, First Avenue announced that it’s postponing all events at the venues it owns and manages — including the Palace Theatre, the Turf Club, and First Avenue itself — “for the immediate foreseeable future.” Local venues including the Parkway Theater, the Cedar Cultural Center, and Hennepin Theatre Trust houses are also cancelling and postponing near-future shows.

The cancellation of SXSW and the postponement of Coachella made international news, and directly affected several Minnesota artists. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony has also been postponed, and on Friday morning Record Store Day announced that “the best of all possible moves is to change the date of Record Store Day this year to Saturday, June 20.” Paisley Park has postponed its annual Celebration, which had been scheduled for June, until this fall.

On Friday, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz advised that all gatherings of over 250 people be called off; a wave of local concert cancellations and postponements has already begun. Most Twin Cities concert venues have capacities over 250, and those that don’t are generally not conducive to the recommended social distancing of six feet or more.

Restaurants and bars generally remain open, and some of those that host live performances, including Icehouse in Minneapolis, are proceeding with some of those shows. If you’re not sure whether a performance is still happening or whether you should go, consult the venue and consider the CDC guidelines.

How are Minnesota artists being affected? What is being done? What can I do?

With recordings a less reliable and lucrative revenue source than in the past, many artists rely heavily on touring and live performance for income and exposure. What’s more, many artists work second jobs in the service industry, and with people being increasingly urged to stay home, food service and other sectors of the economy will be hurt.

Members of the music scene are already organizing to sustain themselves and one another through this unprecedented situation. Springboard for the Arts has also published a resource guide for artists, and its staffers have contributed to a national resource guide; a national webinar for freelance artists across all disciplines is planned for Monday.

If you want to support a particular artist, watch their social media accounts; some have crowdfunding sites or merchandise for sale, and in some cases streaming concerts with virtual “tickets” or donations encouraged. The Twin Cities Music Community Trust has created a fund to support artists in this unprecedented situation, and Springboard for the Arts is accepting donations to a Personal Emergency Relief Fund for Minnesota artists.

Duluth’s Gaelynn Lea is scheduling ticketed virtual shows to connect with her fans. Bad Bad Hats are streaming a performance on Saturday night, and Friday’s Minnesota Orchestra performance was broadcast on Classical MPR.

As the conversation continues and plans evolve, we’ll keep you posted. Follow MPR News, the Minnesota Department of Health, and, again, the CDC for general information and guidance regarding this health emergency.

  • dpsours

    Elephant in the Room: Don’t you think Rock the Garden should be canceled or postponed?

    • Thanks for your concern! We’re moving forward with Rock the Garden as planned on June 20, while closely monitoring the guidance from Centers for Disease Control and Minnesota Department of Health. Rock the Garden is a rain or shine event. In the event that Rock the Garden is canceled due to COVID-19, all tickets will be refunded.

    • Oj (not OJ)

      Probably too early for that. As long as they guarantee refunds would think they should continue selling tix for now.

  • joan gens

    Is MN Orchestra closing? SPCO?