Independent Music Venues Face a Tough Road Ahead

Where have all the venues gone?

2 minute read

May 14, 2020, 12:00 PM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell

West Hollywood, California

The Photo Access / Shutterstock

The example of the Troubadour, an independently owned music venue in West Hollywood that birthed acts like Joni Mitchell, Linda Ronstadt, Tom Waits, the Eagles, Jackson Browne, James Taylor, and Elton John into the mainstream, shows how difficult the pandemic has been for the live music industry.

Randall Roberts reports on the challenges facing the owners of the Troubadour, which has been located on Santa Monica Boulevard on the edge of West Hollywood's border with Beverly Hills for 60 years. Christine Karayan, the club’s general manager tells Roberts that the club recently launched a GoFundMe to help the club bridge the gap to a potential reopening in stage four of the state of California's reopening plan

“That means the middle to the end of next year to potentially open, and maybe a 25% cap” on crowd size, Karayan says. “I can’t foresee being able to ride this out like that.”

Music venues like the Troubadour are some of the most appealing amenities of urban living. Questions about whether cities will lose residents during and after the pandemic must take into account the survival of cultural institutions like these, while also considering that cultural institutions were already under threat in many large cities due to rising commercial rents and a growing population of residential neighbors less inclined to see the value of a place to hear music played loud.

For an example of local government relief for music venues, look to Toronto, where the city is considering a reduction of commercial property taxes for music venues.

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