Willie Nelson, Lady Gaga, Billie Eilish join 600 artists to petition Congress to save independent music venues
'We will know American is back when our music venues are filled with fans enjoying concerts safely,' they wrote in the letter
Willie Nelson, Lady Gaga, Billie Eilish and Neil Young are among hundreds of other musicians and comedians who have joined to sign a letter sent to Congress in support of the National Independent Venue Association's request for government assistance.
The letter with 600 artist signatories was announced on June 18 by The National Independent Venue Association, which formed in April. According to Rolling Stone, it warns that at least 1,000 independent concert venues could be shut down if they don't get enough federal assistance. Iconic venues such as Troubadour and Whisky a Go Go in Los Angeles and the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York are members of the organization.
"We will know America is 'back' when our music venues are filled with fans enjoying concerts safely," the letter begins. "The live music experience is inextricably tied to our nation's cultural and economic fabric. In fact, 53% of Americans — that's 172 million of us — attended a concert last year. We urge you to remember we are the nation that gave the world jazz, country, rock & roll, bluegrass, hip hop, metal, blues, and R&B. Entertainment is America's largest economic export, with songs written and produced by American artists sung in every place on the globe. All of these genres of music, and the artists behind them, were able to thrive because they had neighborhood independent venues to play in and hone their craft, build an audience, and grow into the entertainers that bring joy to millions," the letter reads.
"Independent venues give artists their start, often as the first stage most of us have played on. These venues were the first to close and will be the last to reopen. With zero revenue and the overwhelming overhead of rent, mortgage, utilities, taxes and insurance, 90% of independent venues report that if the shutdown lasts six months and there's no federal assistance, they will never reopen again. We are asking you to support NIVA's request for assistance so these beloved venues can reopen when it's safe and welcome us and our fans back in. The collapse of this crucial element in the music industry's ecosystem would be devastating," the letter continues.
"Independent venues are asking for an investment to secure their future, not a handout. One Chicago report found that every dollar small venues generate in ticket sales results in $12 of economic activity. If these independent venues close forever, cities and towns across America will not only lose their cultural and entertainment hearts, but they will lose the engine that would otherwise be a driver of economic renewal for all the businesses that surround them," it notes, adding, "With respect and solidarity, we, as artists and as community members ourselves, urge you to pass federal legislation that will help #SaveOurStages."
Other artists that signed the letter include Joni Mitchell, Ian MacKaye, Carly Rae Jepsen, Dave Grohl, Mavis Staples, Coldplay, Gary Clark Jr, Miranda Lambert, Coldplay, Kacey Musgraves, Alabama Shakes’ Brittany Howard, Leon Bridges, Ozzy Osbourne, Kamasi Washington, Trent Reznor, Joan Baez, Kesha, Flatbush Zombies, Beach House, and tons more. The letter is part of the Save Our Stages campaign, which the newly-formed National Independent Venue Association launched when it became evident that concerts and live events wouldn’t return to a normal schedule anytime in the foreseeable future.