There’s no doubt every person and industry is challenged by our current environment during Covid-19. But when your very livelihood depends on large gatherings, how do you cope with these changes? How do you encourage those who rely on you for in-person entertainment to hang in there? While nearly impossible questions to answer, we did pick the brains of some of the talent behind concert promotion and production company I.M.P. They had some great advice for everyone who feels a void in their life because live music has come to a screeching halt. And while they can’t wait to see you on the other side at The Anthem, 9:30 Club, Lincoln Theatre and Merriweather Post Pavilion, they have plenty of ways for you to pass the time and support their efforts, too.
District Fray: Working in an industry where you eat, sleep and breathe music, how do you discover new artists? Where should one go to find new music and artists to support during this time?
Dustin Sugar-Moore, Director of Marketing: Spotify is my go-to these days. I’ll often pick a song or artist I know I love, then create a Spotify radio station based on them. Spotify will play things you know and love mixed with new and old music you may have never heard of.
Matthew Franco Doherty, Grassroots Marketing Manager: DIY Mag. [And musician] Ryley Walker’s Twitter [has] amazing recommendations [and] all the classic annals of NME [New Musical Express]. Check out interviews of artists you like and admire. See what they’re listening to, who they collaborate with, what groups they used to be in and who their inspirations are. Bandcamp is also an excellent, artist-friendly resource. Read your favorite artists’ own bios and press releases. Check out their websites and social media channels. No artist is an island. You’ll eventually discover something new.
What advice do you have for fellow music lovers who are feeling a void without regular concert attendance?
Jordan Grobe, Communications Coordinator: Hang in there and be ready to really hit the ground running when we’re back. The fall already tends to be a busy season, so when you combine the normal fall tour schedules with the folks who now have to reschedule their winter/spring tours, be ready to do a lot of dancing, celebrating and reconnecting.
Morgan McKee, Promotions Manager: Focus on your memories of those shows rather than the videos you probably took during them. How did you feel? What did you smell? What did you hear? Who did you meet? Remember what those human connections were like and be ready to go back once this is all over. Your favorite musicians will thank you.
Are there any future shows, releases, livestreams, etc. you’re really looking forward to?
McKee: I’m ready for [Merriweather Post Pavilion] season. Nothing could be polar opposite than a self-isolating quarantine: 15,000 people basking outside in the summer sun, enjoying themselves before an evening of a singularly shared event.
Doherty: [The] new Waxahatchee album, Katie effin’ Crutchfield’s fifth LP under this moniker. She continually expands her sound beyond just a guitar and vocals with each release and looks to do even more so with Saint Cloud. [She’s] arguably the next in line following a storied history of legendary Southern songwriters à la Lucinda Williams. [And the] Gold Cage debut album. They’re America’s answer to Just Mustard, like Cigarettes After Sex with bite rather than whimper. And once again, Ryley Walker’s Twitter. It’s incredible and must be protected at all costs.
How can people support artists right now? And how can they support venues like yours, so you can continue bringing music to people after this all ends?
Connor Jenkins, Advertising Manager: Purchasing their merchandise and recordings is massive. Some artists, such as Fleet Foxes, The National and Soccer Mommy, are even donating all of their proceeds to their touring crews, which is incredible. A lot of [venues] have fundraising campaigns to support their staff and merchandise as well. The great news is that shows are getting rescheduled, and we’ll all be collectively losing our minds the first opportunity we have to walk through a venue’s doors and hear that first note with the rest of the audience.
Sugar-Moore: Lots of artists are getting creative online – livestreaming concerts, teaching art classes, performing dance routines – and most of it is free. Artists are out of work too, though. So if you’re going to watch a free concert, maybe buy some merch or a record from their online store, or donate to a charity the artist supports. Many venues, like ourselves, are pushing gift cards, as it’s basically our only form of income at the moment. We are matching all gift card purchases with a donation to the I.M.P. Family Fund, which helps out our currently out-of-work hourly staff to make ends meet until we are able to reopen. It’s an investment in the future of D.C.’s music scene, our venues in particular and our stellar staff.
How are you keeping sane right now? Any new hobbies, TV shows, podcasts, etc. you’ve discovered that are helping?
Grobe: I started a Facebook group [Quarantunes Listening Collective] centered around the idea of a virtual book club, but for albums. We do a deep listen of an album on our own, and then set up a group video chat to talk about it afterward. It’s been bridging the social divide that a lot of us have been feeling, and has even been connecting people that didn’t know each other before since it’s totally open to everyone to join.
Jenkins: I’m eternally grateful we live in a time where we can video chat with loved ones. Through virtual happy hours and catch-up sessions, my friends and family are keeping me sane during these strange times. Also, I’m trying my best to stay active, catch up on reading and movies, and start some new TV shows. We live in such a time of so much archived and new content that it’s impossible to finish, even in quarantine.
To contribute to the I.M.P Family Fund, visit http://merch.930.com/products/i-m-p-family-fund. Sign up for newsletter updates and get the latest on show updates at www.impconcerts.com.