New York City music venues struggle to stay alive during pandemic

New York City's live music scene has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. While musicians may have been able to set up intimate concert stages in their living rooms, small club owners say they are the ones up against the wall.

The Blue Note Jazz Club has been around for almost 40 years. Legendary Jazz musicians have taken the stage there, but since March 15th its doors have been shut due to the pandemic.

"I don’t see the ability to reopen anytime soon which is very hard for us,” said Steven Bensusan, owner of the Blue Note Jazz Club.

Bensusan is not alone. Live music venues across the city and country are struggling. He employs approximately 60 employees but has had to furlough almost everyone, including bartenders, servers, and his production crew.

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 "We are talking about 5 months’ worth of revenue and it’s going to be much longer,” says Bensusan. He is still paying rent, and real estate taxes, putting him at a significant loss.

He is urging everyone to support the Save Our Stages Act, a bill that would ensure the survival of independent venues across the nation.

"The bill gives independent live music venues approximately six months’ worth of revenue," says Bensusan.

According to the National Independent Venue Association, “90% of independent venues report that if the shutdown lasts six months and there’s no federal assistance, they will never reopen again.”

It sent a letter to Congress signed by a number of artists urging federal assistance.

Meanwhile, Blue Note will start to stream live concerts from the club without an audience.

It will release its line up mid-August, launching in September, hoping to bring in some revenue to help them get by.