Max Gomez is a singer-songwriter from Taos, New Mexico. He says the last year has completely uprooted his traveling musician lifestyle.
“When there’s not a pandemic going on, my life, my job is really a touring musician," Gomez said. "And I travel constantly from town to town, city to city, to perform live shows.”
Gomez says he misses playing live shows, but he’s still been able to experience the adrenaline rush that comes with performing virtually.
“It’s very uncomfortable at first," Gomez said. "It’s kind of a trick of the brain you have to make yourself realize that you are playing in front of actual people. And you can see the little numbers of the screen and the comments and that really does help make it feel like a live show.”
Considering himself an introvert, Gomez says this year has actually been quite productive for him when it comes to writing music from home.
“It hasn’t slowed me down as much as you might think,” Gomez said.
However, the concert industry as a whole has really been suffering. Alex Fang is a booking agent with New Frontier Touring in Nashville.
“2019 I believe is probably the best year of live music on record and 2020 will be the worst since live music existed, however many years ago that was,” Fang said.
Fang says he thinks the concert industry has been one of the hardest hit since it employs so many people.
“There’s bus drivers, there’s light techs, there’s assistants, there’s caterers, there’s everything. You can picture it like a small business," Fang said.
According to a report from IBIS World, a company that offers trusted industry research, the concert and event promotion industry experienced a 60% decrease in revenue in 2020 compared to 2019. However, Fang is hopeful the industry will make a comeback in 2021. It’s just unclear who or what will give the industry the green light to hold concerts.
“I’d wager it’ll be a little messy come the summer if there isn’t a clear public trust in going out and congregating,” Fang said.
So far, Fang says a lot of shows from 2020 have been postponed until the summer or fall of 2021. He’s heard that timeline is a possibility, but it’s likely there will be more precautions.
“The way rapid testing has picked up, there’s talks of it being your car pulls in, you get rapid tested, when you get the result that it’s negative, they let you in. If you leave the campsite, you have to test back in – kind of like a TSA situation – I’ve heard that be tossed about," Fang said. "I’ve heard that there’s apps being made that to prove that you’ve been vaccinated and they let you in.”
The success of the industry moving forward will ultimately be up to concert goers.
“There is some PTSD and maybe the first couple shows will be weird, but I think as a whole, people will jump into the swing of things pretty quickly,” Fang said.
As for Gomez, he says he’s grateful for his supportive fans who have helped him keep the lights on. He wants to encourage people to continue helping small music venues financially to keep them alive.
“I was so shocked and scared when this all happened, but I’m happy to report I’ve been lucky enough to adapt and sort of persevere,” Gomez said.