Music Industry Hit Hard by Pandemic, Responds with Improvisation

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Brian Moss speaks with PBS NewsHour Extra

Music Industry Suffers from Covid-19 Closures

The coronavirus pandemic has dealt a major blow to the music industry, especially impacting live performances. While many musicians have turned to other alternatives to share their music, live music venues may be in trouble. A recent survey found that over 90% of small music venues will close during the pandemic without government help. Read the news summary, watch the video and answer the discussion questions. To save time, stop the video at 5m:47s. To read the transcript, click here.

  • Artists have found ways to improvise and share their music during the pandemic. For example, Derrick “D-Nice” Jones, a hip producer, rapper and deejay, started performing on Instagram Live which attracted a huge audience and following.
  • Another band, Spafford, was one of the first bands to try a drive-in concert in Arizona in May.
  • Dayna Frank, owner of First Avenue in Minneapolis, a legendary 50-year-old music venue, explains that music clubs have an enormous economic impact on their communities. She cites a study that for every dollar spent on a ticket generates $12 of economic activity for local businesses like restaurants, hotels and cabs.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Essential Question: How would the closure of institutions like music venues affect economic activity for the whole community? 
  2. What entertainment venues in your area do you attend? Have they shut down permanently? Or if open, is attendance as high as usual?
    • What other businesses or professions in your area might be affected by entertainment venue closures or slow-downs?
  3. What other industries that depend on live audiences have been hurt by COVID? What solutions have they found?
  4. Dee jay Derrick “D-Nice” Jones said, “And, also, there’s a feature on Instagram where if someone is — if someone is appreciating what you’re doing or saying or enjoying that conversation, they will constantly hit the heart button. I just kept seeing hearts flying every time. I would play a song, hearts were just flying.”
    • Have you ever heard a song that made you hit the heart button constantly? What song was it? Why did it make you feel this way?
  5. Media literacy: Social media and technology are being utilized by musicians to share their music. How are those tools used in this story and others by reporters to continue interviewing people? 

Extension Activities:

  1. Come up with your own ways to host a concert. Think of how you can maintain social distancing, but also make it fun for the audience. Design a poster or graphic advertising the event. Then think of how you would spread the word. Would you use posters, flyers, or utilize social media?
  2. Nashville has been the backbone of the nation’s music industry for over 60 years, but is struggling with preserving history and demands for new housing. Reference this NewsHour story and discuss how COVID could further impact this city.
Republished with permission from PBS NewsHour Extra