NASHVILLE, Tenn., (WKRN) — From outdoor concerts, to mask requirements and to social distanced seating, venue organizers are doing everything they can to keep the music in Music City playing.
“This has really hit our community in a big way,” Tiffany Kerns, said, the Vice President of Community Outreach at CMA. “The industry is crippled; it’s hurting.”
2020 will forever be synonymous with coronavirus and the year stages in Nashville went silent.
For 10 months now the melody of Music City has been abruptly disconnected in a time where we all crave connections.
“This is just the start,” Kerns said. “Certinaly, we’ve spent the last nine months in our COVID efforts and I believe we’ll spend the next nine doing everything we can to make sure we have a safe return.”
But when will that safe return come? You know, the city with loud music and even louder fans.
“It’s hard to say exactly how the entertainment industry will recover because the infrastructure has been changed,” Kerns said.
Thousands have been forced to leave their true passions and pursue a different career. Not only are the singers impacted, but also the engineers, production crews, sound crews, lighting crews, and the list goes on.
All of these people have been impacted, and many are without a job.
But there’s hope.
“We’ve been broadcasting the Opry without an audience, and we opened it up for a partial audience back in October. The demand was there,” Scott Bailey, President Opry Entertainment Group said. “75% of the attendees were coming outside of Nashville. It was interesting to see the pent-up demand for some sort of live entertainment.”
Bailey said the Grand Ole Opry and Ryman Auditorium have been operating at 25% capacity. It’s been working, but it’s not a true recovery. Bailey said they’re ready to move forward when the city is ready.
“I would say – the way we view it – it’s probably not until fourth quarter 2021, until we see pre-covid type numbers,” Bailey said, hoping things will build quarter to quarter.
Both Kerns and Bailey agreed the demand is there, but it’s all about keeping people safe.
“We have one shot to make sure everyone feels comfortable,” Kerns said. That includes CMA Fest 2021.
News 2 asked about the festival and learned the final decision is yet to be made.
“A good amount of intention is going into preparing for whatever CMA fest will or will not look like in the future,” Kerns said. “I know CMA Fest is certainly going to be helpful when were ready to do that. I don’t think we can rush into anything.”
“We’re ready for those in our businesses to get back to some sense of normalcy in whatever shape it takes moving forward,” Kerns said.
Though many decisions still have to be made, CMA is doing everything it can to help artists in need. It committed $3 million to fund nonprofit partners as part of its music industry COVID support initiative.
This means, Music Health Alliance, Musically Fed, Notes for Notes, Porter’s Call, The Store and others will receive funding to directly support music industry professionals who are struggling during this time.
“It will get better,” Bailey said. “Nashville is a hot market. It has a lot of interest for people wanting to visit. They’re wanting to come here; they’re just waiting like everybody else is when is it a safe environment – when it’s the right time to come in; and we’re ready to host them when they do.”