NEW YORK, Sept. 14, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- It will be years of evaluation and reflection to sort out the disruption, tragedies, and deep disturbance that COVID-19 has assailed upon society the world over. That impact has forced change and adaption upon most of us. Beyond the death and long-term health issues, the economic challenges and loss of jobs have been among the most significant factors to negatively affect our lives. One profession dramatically challenged has been that of working musicians and people working in live entertainment. Broadway musicals stopped. Symphonies were canceled. Arenas, clubs, bars, and hotels that featured bands closed their stages.
The Recording Industry's Music Performance Trust Fund, a 501(c)3 not-for-profit, has been providing grants to subsidize musicians to engage in free-admission live music events in parks and public spaces for nearly 75 years. This past year, the MPTF found itself equipped with the funding from the major record companies, but without a way to engage the musicians to perform. This included funds for musicians to present music education programs in schools throughout North America. It also brings live music to senior centers and assisted living facilities. In 2019, the Trust Fund supported over 2,700 of these various performances throughout North America.
In mid-March of 2020, live music came to a screeching halt. Performances were canceled and the MPTF scrambled to set up remote operations, while honoring grants for performances that had no hope of being re-scheduled. These were the last paychecks for many musicians.
Over the subsequent six weeks, the staff explored the challenges of live streaming, including the licensing issues, and how a small not-for-profit might create a platform that could deliver dozens of free live concerts from all corners of North America. It was a daunting challenge to find a way to provide musical entertainment and provide supplemental income to musicians.
In May, with an unproven approach, the MPTF coordinated a series of test performances with local 77 of the American Federation of Musicians in Philadelphia. With the logistics confirmed, the initiative was opened up to all the union locals across the U.S. and Canada. Over 90 union offices engaged and set about discovering how live streaming could work. The safety of the musicians gathering was the first concern. Establishing a uniform tech coordination process then fell into place. The licensing issues were resolved.
Now some 16 months later, the MPTF and the AFM have worked together to create over 1,000 live performances via the Trust Fund's Facebook page, and in many cases, co-streamed with the union local's website. Over 5,000 musician payments have been made, totaling over $1.3 million.
The music has been diverse, including country, rock, pop, blues, and soul, although over 500 of these free online concerts have featured jazz performances and over 200 of them have spotlighted chamber groups.
The venues have varied as well. A polka band played outdoors in a driveway in Ontario at the height of the pandemic. The Winnipeg Orchestra drew over 5,000 viewers amidst the lockdown. A Denton, Texas weekly jazz series introduced several bands and great musicians from the Lone Star State. Community support was there too, with commercial establishments, including restaurants and bars that were closed for business providing their stages to these performers. Houses of worship and community centers, forced to close to the public, opened their doors, so that musicians could safely distance and provide live music online.
All in all, while the challenges of COVID-19 continue, the musicians and support people involved have made the energy and emotional value of live music available to all who choose to tune in. As new performances are posted, it is a potpourri of musical talent and styles coming from dozens of corners of the continent. It is a joyful discovery almost daily. It is all there at www.facebook.com/musicperformancetrustfund.
The Music Performance Trust Fund had anticipated that these online concerts would continue once the pandemic subsided. However, it was also expected that the admission-free live events would transition back to the more traditional ones in parks, schools, and senior centers. Now, as we see the disruption continue, the MPTF is gearing up for a fall and winter, bringing free live music online to all those who seek it.
About the MPTF: The MPTF is a 501(c)3 nonprofit public service organization whose mission is to support admission-free, live events performed by professional musicians throughout the United States and Canada. While stepping up our commitment to re-stimulate the musical arts, the MPTF will work with our recipients to follow local guidelines for safe practices. Most MPTF performances are presented with community co-sponsors, including businesses, nonprofits, and municipalities. Learn more at www.musicpf.org.
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SOURCE Music Performance Trust Fund