Musicians urge Cuomo administration to let live, ticketed, advertised music play again

Aug 24, 2020

Musicians who depend on the income from live, ticketed indoor shows are urging the Cuomo Administration to lift the COVID-related ban currently keeping them from performing on stage, or telling their followers of upcoming gigs.

Under state guidelines released last week, ticketed live music is not permitted inside bars, restaurants and clubs. Incidental music, meant for background listening, is allowed but state officials including Governor Andrew Cuomo worry about the potential for gatherings exceeding mandated capacity limits.

A photo of the band The Fleetwood Mac Experience performing in Niagara Falls, New York. The band plays locally but also in venues elsewhere in the US and Canada. Band member Stacey Givan has launched a petition drive trying to convince state officials to lift a ban on ticketed live indoor shows, arguing that venues can control crowds and distancing, while allowing musicians and the venues an opportunity to earn money after months of being shut down due to COVID.
Credit The Fleetwood Mac Experience, used with permission

The state issued clarification of this rule last week, while Governor Cuomo explained that ticketed live music was never cleared to resume coming out of the state's economic pause.

Stacey Givan, a Western New York musician, says the artists and the venue owners are willing to honor any social distancing guideline rules in order to play. But the state, in turn, needs to honor their need to resume pursuing a living.

"Also, they've taken away the ability to even advertise a free show,: she said. "Basically, if you're playing at the restaurant down the street on the patio outside, where all the COVID guidelines are in place, you're not allowed to tell anybody about it and neither is the venue. They're not allowed to advertise, which kind of defeats the whole purpose of the fact that everybody's trying to make a little bit of money, to keep their head above water during this you know difficult time."

Last week, she launched an online petition urging state leaders, including Cuomo, to reverse the stance on live ticket indoor events.

Givan performs with The Fleetwood Mac Experience, a locally-formed tribute band which covers songs of the genuine article, and has performed in numerous parts of the US and Canada. She tells WBFO she and her peers estimate income losses of "tens of thousands of dollars" due to canceled shows. Givan explained she has received some unemployment money from a past healthcare job but, in addition to live musical performances, has been unable to find work in that field as well.

"You know, if I could work as a musician instead of getting unemployment I would rather do that, but I can't," she said.

The ban also covers comedy performances.