Gov. Larry Hogan’s executive order on Monday prohibiting events and gatherings with more than 50 people has left many musicians, performers and other groups unable to present their art as originally planned.
But Baltimore Soundstage is proposing a way for the show to go on amidst the coronavirus pandemic. Soundstage said it will livestream any artists’s event or help create a music video, album, recording or other project for digital audiences to enjoy “in an effort to help support our hardworking and dedicated staff.”
The virus has presented Baltimore Soundstage and other members of the entertainment and hospitality industries with “an unprecedented challenge,” said general manager Dave Adams.
“The live music industry operates in such a way that there isn’t a lot of cushion for those behind the scenes when the gigs dry up, especially with little to no warning,” he said.
Because many sound engineers, light technicians and other crew members are independent contractors, they are not eligible for unemployment benefits and “need funds sooner than allowed by the red tape of various other forms of government assistance,” Adams said.
At least 10 groups have postponed or cancelled their events at Baltimore Soundstage, according to the venue’s website.
Adams said he saw artists take to the web after the first wave of postponements due to coronavirus, including American Celtic punk band the Dropkick Murphys, who livestreamed their St. Patrick’s Day concert from Boston, garnering more than 950,000 views by Wednesday morning. He was inspired to offer up Baltimore Soundstage as a place where other artists can do the same locally.
“We are just using the resources available to us in an attempt to help bridge the gap between paychecks for our independent contractors and production crew, who are facing what is likely an event drought of six weeks or more,” he said. “Some of these people have been working with our company for around 10 years, and we are making an effort to ensure that they are provided for.”
Groups who wish to use the venue only have to pay for the wages of Soundstage’s professional engineers and crews and the cost to produce whatever they make. There will be no additional cost for the use of the venue’s production equipment, stage, utilities and other tools, Soundstage said.
Each project will be individually evaluated to determine the cost of services, but Adams said Soundstage can produce a simple show with professional sound, lights and one camera–no post-production–for around a $400-500 baseline. Any needs above that would increase the cost, depending on any additional equipment or crew needed.
Adams added that there will be no house cut for the services, meaning all money will go directly to the Soundstage crew who work on the projects.
The venue will limit the number of people who are present during productions and ensure cleaning, sanitation and safety are “the number one priority throughout the process,” Soundstage said.
Adams said Soundstage’s primary goal is to “keep food on the table and the lights on for our live music family” during the coronavirus pandemic.
“Each one of these productions we can line up will be money towards their rent, grocery bill, health insurance, car payment, etc., that they would otherwise not have,” he said.
But Adams said that if his space can also help entertain digital audiences in the process, that is an added bonus.
“[I]t is also rewarding to know that these organizations who might use this service can continue to produce something entertaining, inspiring or informative for their fans or followers during the what seems to be the worst of times,” he said.
People and organizations who are interested in taking advantage of the offer or who have additional questions about the process can email Adams at [email protected] or marketing and promotions manager Mike O’Brien at [email protected].