• Tess Freedel

What the Hell is Happening to the Seattle Music Scene During the COVID-19 Outbreak?



It’s changing minute to minute, but it’s pretty clear none of the March shows are happening.


At present there’s no order to shelter in place, but most residents are preparing for that to change at any moment. Stockpiles of toilet paper and all.


Venues and music stores are boarding up and posting as though they may close forever. Seattle has some of the highest rents in the nation and art’s spaces have been operating with slimming margins for years. There’s no telling what businesses will survive this turmoil until some semblance of normalcy returns.


What makes this situation so damaging is that musicians have just lost more than their gigs, the corona outbreak is taking day jobs too. Many artists who rely on their shifts in food service are scrambling to adjust to layoffs. Facebook newsfeeds are overflowing with music teachers shifting their businesses online.


A bright light in this midst of this uncertainty is the nearly overwhelming amount of livestreams. As Kevin Sur, a Seattle local arts organizer and founder of Artist Home put it, “We can once again verify that when the ship is sinking musicians will grab their instruments and begin to play.”


Hopefully this ship is not sinking, just changing into something new. A more democratic and digital version of the music industry could be emerging in real time in the Seattle scene.


If you LOVE an artist in Seattle, now is the time to be sending them money as directly as possible.


Find their Venmo or PayPal (and lord knows we’re all posting them about now) and send them some financial support. Other great ways to support are buying merch, albums, streaming and sharing music as much as possible in these uncertain times.

Seattle arts organizations are doing an amazing job trying to serve as many artists in need as things unfold, but will always have their own internal biases of what types or art and artists are deserving of aid. If you have the cash to lend a hand, now is the time to skip the middleman and connect with artists as directly as possible.


If you ARE an artist in Seattle, now is the time to connect with your fans directly and to be proactive reaching out to arts organizations for support.


Post your payment info and upcoming live streams. Look for the helpers in this world, they are out there and need to know what you need. Don’t be shy or too intimidated to reach out to arts organizations, they are here to help you and doing their best to accommodate the sudden changes in the industry. Avoid being discouraged or put off by lulls in communication, these organizations are run by real people doing their best to navigate this time too.


Additionally, artists should keep an eye out for new online groups posting artist resources. As in much of the country, news outlets like the Seattle Times and New York Times are removing their paywalls for coverage of the virus.


There’s hard times ahead, but Seattle musicians know how to handle a rainy day. The sun always comes out eventually.

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