As the province announces that all COVID-19 restrictions will be lifted on July 11, many members of Saskatchewan’s live music community are optimistic that the public’s appetite for live music is rapidly returning, leading to a rapid recovery for industry.
“Music is medicine, and I think people are really hungry for this medicine,” Regina musician Jeffery Straker said.
With initial uncertainty as to when indoor venues could once again welcome clients to Saskatchewan, Straker decided to offer backyard concerts for the summer. He said the response has been overwhelming.
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“This summer I booked about 50 between June 12 and September 12, so that keeps me going,” said Straker.
While some of Saskatchewan’s major music festivals, like the Regina Folk Festival and Country Thunder, have announced the cancellation of their dates for 2021, more live music events will take place this summer.
Earlier this month, Regina Exhibition Association Limited (REAL) announced that it will include a full live music lineup as part of Queen City Ex 2021 in August.
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“We’ve been saying over and over that when we come back, our industry will be stronger, bolder and better than ever before,” said REAL CEO Tim Reid.
“There is enthusiasm around the live events industry. There is optimism and there are people who want to come back to these experiences. I’m sure this is the best decade we have ever seen.
Meanwhile, operators at the SaskTel Center in Saskatoon hope to sell out in October when country music Eric Church hits town.
Until then, the organization will also be producing the classic rock festival Rock the River, which will take place in August at the Delta Bessborough Gardens.
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“Once the health restrictions are lifted, our plan is to go full steam ahead and start bringing fans to all of these events, hopefully,” SaskTel Center Executive Director Scott Ford said. .
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“The strategy now is to open up. We are following this plan and we are delighted with it. We’ve done a number of things, like moving to mobile ticketing, and we’ve also installed a new contactless point of sale system.
Ford said his team is even preparing to welcome fans as early as July 12, when the Saskatchewan Rattlers face the Edmonton Stingers on the hard court.
“When the doors open, our plan is to be open. If fans still want to wear a mask, they’re certainly welcome, and if they don’t want to wear a mask, they won’t have to. We will not do physical distancing, ”he said.
“This corresponds to what happened in the United States with the reopening of their buildings. And what we’re seeing from what’s going on in the United States is that big shows are selling fantastically. People are eager to come back to the live events. We think there is going to be a boom.
Ford added that with the Canada-U.S. Border still partially closed, it has been difficult to get acts that regularly tour the United States, but says Saskatchewan’s aggressive reopening strategy has generated some optimism in the industry.
“We had a nice little wave of people making reservations to bring events to the SaskTel Center. We are very excited about the future and the return to normalcy. “
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According to SaskMusic, the live music industry employed about 3,000 people in Saskatchewan before the pandemic.
“We know there have been drastic impacts on live music revenues, which make up the bulk of the music industry’s revenues,” said Lorena Kelly, director of communications for SaskMusic.
“Live music is the main generator of all kinds of things, not just music revenue, but all associated places and services, such as hotels and restaurants. “
A study conducted by consultancy firm Nordicity estimated that the Canadian live performance industry experienced a 79% drop in revenue from 2019. The study estimated that the Canadian music industry as a whole would experience a decline. 57% drop in employment compared to its 2020 potential.
“About a year ago, the first polls looked like maybe 60% of music fans would come back to where they left off. We’ve seen that the longer the pandemic has lasted, the greater the appetite for live music, so we think about 80% of music fans will be ready to go back to listening to live music as soon as things are over. reopened again, ”Kelly said.
SaskMusic believes, however, that the live music industry will not experience a full rebound until at least 2023.
“The challenge is going to be to get major tours and events off and on again, because that sort of thing can take several months to a year or more,” Kelly added.
Straker said that although he was fortunate enough to make do with his concerts and events in his garden, such as live broadcasts, he saw with his own eyes that some of his peers and colleagues did not. been so lucky.
“Personally, I know agents and even a few advertisers who have returned to live with their parents. I know musicians who have returned to live with their parents. I know musicians who have abandoned a house in Regina and moved elsewhere. It was really difficult, ”said Straker.
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