COVID almost killed the music scene, but now that the vaccine is here, we may have a fighting chance.
When COVID hit, many businesses were shut down. As time went on, we learned to deal. Retail shops were given the greenlight to reopen with limited capacity, social distancing and mask wearing.
But the music industry wasn’t so lucky. We tried, but nothing really substituted the live experience. Sure, there were venues that opened with limited capacity, but it wasn’t really paying the bills. Livestreams and virtual concerts were a good substitute, but they didn’t scratch the itch for hardcore fans.
Now the vaccine is here, and numbers are going down. However, many people are still unvaccinated. Some don’t trust the vaccine, others are still unsure of how to get it. There are also individuals who feel that COVID is a hoax, and the vaccine is unnecessary.
But whatever the reason may be for not getting vaccinated, many people just aren’t. Based on statistics, the vaccinated population ranges at just under 50% in America. This raise concerns that strains will continue to mutate including those that vaccinated people will not be protected against.
To solve the issue, there has been talk of people needing to show a vaccination card or proof of a negative COVID test when visiting public spaces including concert venues. But will that actually happen? Let’s look at what’s going on in the music industry now that vaccinations are here.
California Reopening Policies
Those looking forward to more reopenings occurring are likely to be happy to hear that California has safely reopened. It dropped many coronavirus related restrictions and next month it will drop its physical distancing requirements while allowing fully vaccinated people to ditch masks in most settings.
California is the most populous state in our country and it’s one of the most ‘happening’ when it comes to the music scene and large events. Here's what officials are saying they will require from concertgoers and other major event attendees.
Large Indoor Events: Event organizers hosting large indoor events with crowds of more than 5000 people are being asked to show a vaccination card or a negative coronavirus test taken within 72 hours from the start date of the event. Guests must follow their state’s guidelines on wearing masks. Attendees will be provided with information on acceptable modes of verification when reserving tickets.
Large Outdoor Events: Event organizers hosting large outdoor events are being asked to have guests show proof of vaccination or a negative test. Guests that do not have the suggested documentation may still attend the event but will be required to wear a mask.
The state is also recommending that the event organizers of indoor and outdoor events encourage attendees to sign up to CA Notify to receive alerts when they come into close contact with someone who tests positive for coronavirus.
Acceptable proof for concert entry may come in the form of the actual vaccination card or a digital version of the card as well as actual or digital test results.
The current policies will be in effect until Oct. 1, 2021 at which point the government and California Department of Public Health will reassess to determine if restrictions can be loosened or whether the state will need to take increased measures in protecting residents against the virus.
There have been a lot of news stories on Ticketmaster and what its policies will be on allowing guests into concerts now that the vaccine is available. As one of the largest legitimate ticket providers in America, an adaptation of a new policies could have a huge effect on how concerts are attended in the immediate future.
However, the company has made a statement, which has been published on its web site stating that it will not be adapting any such policies. While it is looking at safety features for event organizers to utilize, such as social distanced seating and contactless entry, ultimately, it will be up to the organizer to determine what measures should be taken.
The company is also getting prepared for the possibility of a future where negative tests and future vaccines may be necessary at all events. In doing so, they are exploring ways for fans to link their digital tickets to their negative test results, vaccine status or any other type of documentation needed to gain entry to events. That way, they would be admitted with just a scan of their ticket, and they would not need to spend extra time having to show verifications.
If this is implemented, all health information would be stored with a 3rd party HIPAA health care provider and not with Ticketmaster.
Foo Fighters Concert for Vaccinated Fans Only
While many are concerned about loosening restrictions, others are focused on the big picture and that’s stopping the spread. The vaccine is showing to be the most effective way to end COVID 19, yet many people remain unvaccinated.
There has been a huge push to get more people vaccinated including commercials ,many of which are endorsed by musicians and other celebrities. The Foo Fighters are getting behind the movement by performing a concert for vaccinated people only.
The concert will take place on June 20th at Madison Square Garden marking the first show to take place at the venue in 460 days.
The Foo Fighters are known for performing to sold out crowds. Will the concert be enough to prompt fans to get vaccinated? We can only wait and see.
The concert is hosted by MSG Entertainment. The company will also be hosting the closing night of the Tribeca Festival at Radio City Music Hall to a full capacity, fully vaccinated crowd. Later this month, MSG will be hosting ‘Two Evening with Trey Anastasio” at the Beacon Theatre. Both nights are already sold out.
The Foo Fighter concert announcement came a day after NY Mayor Bill de Blasio set an August 21 date for a mega concert in Central Park to celebrate the city’s recovery. Although no line up has been set, de Blasio is hoping for a three hour show for 60,000 fans featuring eight iconic musicians.
The event will have vaccinated and non-vaccinated sections but 70% of tickets will go to people that can prove they got the shot. Most tickets will be free.
The state is celebrating due to a 64-day steady stretch of declining cases putting New York at an all-time pandemic low, which ranks it as the lowest in the country. Statewide hospitalization has fallen below 800 for the first time since Oct. 8 while daily death tolls are in the single or low double digits. Vaccinations are being credited for improved health.
The mayor has stated that once 70% of people in the state have been vaccinated, he would remove virtually all COVID restrictions. Currently the state is somewhere between 68.9% and 66.4% (there has been a discrepancy in the numbers). It is predicted they will get to the 70% mark within the next week.
It should be noted that the Foo’s appearance at MSG isn’t the only vaccinated performance they have done. They also made a special appearance at a more intimate venue, the Canyon Club in Agoura Hills, CA. They played to a sold-out crowd of 600.
The concert was not met kindly by some fans and a protest took place outside the venue. The sentiment was that the vaccination policy enforced at the show was similar to racial segregation. Some hoisted signs with false information of a COVID conspiracy and accused the Foos of being farma-sellouts.
“Separating humans is not okay,” said one protestor whose sign compared the vaccination policy to ‘modern segregation. “Those of us who have healthy immune systems should be able to enjoy those freedoms just like everyone else.”
Florida Concert Promoter Does His Part
New York and California are two democratic states with huge music scenes so it should come as no surprise that there is a lot of pro vaccine action going on in these regions. But it may be shocking to find that a Florida concert promoter is stepping forward in a big way.
Paul Williams of Leadfoot Productions is encouraging his community to get vaccinated by hosting a punk rock concert where he will be charging $18 for tickets for those who are vaccinated and $1000 for those who are not.
Florida’s Republican governor, Ron DeSantis recently signed a bill banning vaccine passports in the state of Florida. He followed up by stating, “In Florida, your personal choice regarding vaccinations will be protected and no business or government entity will be able to deny you services based on your decision.”
Knowing that he could not legally exclude non-vaccinated people from the event, Williams decided to get creative by charging more to those who were not vaccinated. As of late May, no one had purchased a ticket at the $999.99 price tag.
The concert will take place at the Skatepark of Tampa on June 26 and will feature Teenage Bottlerocket, MakeWar and Rutterkin. To be eligible for a lower priced ticket, guests will need to bring a photo ID and a vaccination card.
“We’re all vaccinated. We encourage everyone to get vaccinated so we can see you in the pit,” said Ray Carlisle, singer and guitar player of Teenage Bottlerocket.
Williams is comparing his idea to businesses that have made special offers to vaccinated customers and is hoping it encourages more people to get vaccinated so they can go out and have fun without worrying about getting sick.
The Vax Live Concert
There are plenty of other musicians and people in the music industry who are hoping more people become vaccinated. Take the Vax Live Concert for example.
The Vax Live Concert livestreamed on May 8 and was attended by vaccinated healthcare workers. It was sponsored by Global Citizen, an organization campaigning to support Access to COVID 19 tools Accelerator Initiative, a vaccine sharing program led by the World Health Organization. The mission is to make the vaccine more accessible in low-income countries.
The concert was put on to inspire global citizens to call on their governments to raise the $22.1 billion needed to distribute COVID vaccines and tests throughout the world.
Several celebrities and musicians spoke and performed at the event, hosted by Selena Gomez. Appearances were made by David Letterman, Eddie Vedder, Jennifer Lopez, J. Balvin, H.E.R, Foo Fighters, President and Mrs. Biden, Prince Harry and Megan Markle, Vice President Kamala Harris, Jimmy Kimmel, Ben Affleck, Sean Penn, Olivia Munn, Christie Teigen, Gayle King and more.
Jack Black Pitches In
Jack Black is another artist who has been passionate about ending the pandemic. He recently partnered with Evanescence’s Amy Lee, Toto guitarist Steve Lukather, Black Stone Cherry, Danko Jones, the Protomen, John C. Reilly, Samantha Bee, Kathy Najimy and long time Tenacious D. bandmate Kyle Glass to do a spoof on the Ramones song “I Wanna Be Sedated” with new lyrics, “I’m Getting Vaccinated”.
“Twenty twenty twenty four hours from now, I’m getting vaccinated. Waited so long that I wrote down this song, I’m getting vaccinated,” Black sings.
The video for the song is fun and energetic and features the artists listed above.
Eric Clapton’s Anti-Vaccine Sentiment
While you may think that most musicians would back the vaccine at any cost in the hopes it will bring back live music, this is not necessarily the case. Eric Clapton is one musician who has spoken out against the shot.
In December of 2020, Clapton partnered with Van Morrison on an anti-lockdown song called Stand and Deliver. After much negative feedback, he went on to get the vaccine two months later.
He reported having ‘disastrous side effects’ that lasted 10 days and was told to wait 12 weeks before getting a second dose. However, he got another dose just 6 weeks later and reported feeling even worse.
A spokesperson for MHRA, the UK company overseeing the vaccine, refused to comment on Eric Clapton’s statement but insisted that it was vitally important that people come forward to get the vaccination when they are permitted to do so.
The Hip Hop Community Is Known for its Anti-Vaxxers
The hip hop community is also known for taking an anti-vaccination stance and for mistrusting the medical industry in general. Grammy nominated artists like Royce da 5”9, Gibbs and Nas are among the many artists who have produced raps about drugs, religion, romance, black empowerment and anti-vaccine topics.
Royce da 5”9 often sings about the rejection of vaccines and modern medicine. In his song “Tricked” he discusses how vaccines cause autism despite scientific proof that states otherwise.
Freddie Gibbs puts similar sentiments in his lyrics. He teamed up with fellow rappers Killer Mike and Pusha T for a track called “Palmolive”. “Maxine Waters, f**k your poison, keep your hands off us,” he croons.
Nas’s anti-vaccine lyrics come up in his 2001 song “What. Comes Around” when he raps, “Doctors injecting our infants with the poison.”
On another song, “Everything”, he states, “Why’d you let them inject me? Who’s gonna know how these side effects gonna affect me?”
It should be noted that all the albums these anti-vax songs appeared on are ones that earned Grammy nominations making it seem as if the sentiment is backed by the academy.
The tear between the black community and medical industry is not unfounded. It goes back to times when biomedical research and practices were used on blacks to produce effects that did more harm than good.
One example is the Tuskegee Experiment. This notorious trial engaged black male participants with syphilis. The group was told they were given medication for the illness, but they were actually given a placebo. Researchers did nothing as they watched the men’s health decline.
Steps are being taken to dispel ongoing myths that the medical industry may continue to target black people. For instance, Dr. Fauci is teaming up with the Black Coalition against COVID in an attempt to breed honesty and trust between communities.
And while many rappers are against the vaccine, there are some who aren’t.
Rapper Lupe Fiasco announced that his fans will have to get a vaccine to attend his concerts. Although he encountered pushback from his fans who suggested he was being paid off by ‘Big Pharma’, he responded that he did his own probe of alternative theories and feels the vaccine is the best solution for ending the pandemic.
So, will vaccinations or negative tests be necessary for fans to attend concerts? No one knows for sure. It is hopeful that enough people will get vaccinated to the point where the spread is reduced to become a non-issue.
In the meantime, there will be people arguing for both sides. Where do you stand?