On a Tuesday in August, LCD Soundsystem frontman James Murphy and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer assembled in front of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, music mecca Baby’s All Right to plead for focused pandemic assistance for independent music venues. The impact of covid-19 on local venues has been debilitating. They were among the first businesses to close this spring and they’ve stood empty in most places ever since.
Alongside Murphy and a handful of owners and managers of other top independent venues in New York City, Schumer threw his weight behind the $10 billion bipartisan Save Our Stages Act, co-authored by Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and John Cornyn (R-TX). If passed by Congress, it would offer six months of financial support to help keep venues afloat. In June, the National Independent Venues Association (NIVA) warned some 90% of American music venues may be forced to shut down for good in a few months if they don’t get federal aid.
Congress went into recess last week without rendering a decision on the act. But Schumer aims to make it a top priority. “I am fully behind this [bill], and I will use whatever muscle I have to get this passed,” he declared. Believe it or not, the Senator is a huge fan of live music. During his press conference, Schumer recalled riding his bike past a 2009 JellyNYC outdoor concert, also attended by Beyoncé and Jay-Z, and “liking the vibe so much that he jumped off and joined in.”
Dozens of major musicians, including Billie Eilish, Lady Gaga, and Leon Bridges (who performed during the Democratic National Convention on Monday) signed a letter to Congress supporting the Save Our Stages Act. The bill also has 28 bipartisan cosponsors in the Senate. But with Democrats and Republicans quibbling over federal relief for all Americans, the price tag of saving independent venues could pose a hurdle.
Schumer was emphatic about pushing the bill through, however. “We need to get them the funding. And I will do everything I can to get this done, because it is so effing important!” he pledged. Music lovers everywhere are encouraged to contact their Senators and urge them to support the Save Our Stages Act.