The world immediately shifted in March 2020. As people discovered the true impact of a global pandemic, it became clear one industry would be the hardest hit: live music. With social distance mandates and required quarantining, concerts were canceled indefinitely.

In the wake of this news, a group of music lovers from across Washington State came together and formed Keep Music Live, a COVID relief fundraising campaign, supporting independent venues at risk of permanently closing. Over six months, Keep Music live raised awareness and funds through virtual concerts and events, media, sponsorships, partnerships, merchandise, and even our own beer!

Keep Music Live built a groundswell of community support with more than 4,200 individual donors. Relief grant funds were dispersed to more than 77 venues statewide, providing critical assistance to venues closed for over a year. With a focus on equity in our grant-giving, more than 30% of the venues receiving funds in the first round identified as BIPOC or woman-owned.

Keep Music Live’s local advocacy and awareness building was a contributing factor for national support and passage of the Save Our Stages Act, also known as the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant (SVOG) program. The SVOG program includes over $16 billion in grants for shuttered venues; grant funds can be allocated to payroll costs, rent payments, utility payments, administrative costs, insurance payments, and other business expenses.

Washington’s small, independent music venues are part of our identity, vibrancy, and lifestyle. Keep Music Live is proud to have played a role in helping bridge the gap for venues threatened during this pandemic.

While Keep Music Live’s efforts have come to an end, the opportunity to support our live music industry has not. We encourage the Keep Music Live community to continue advocating for Washington’s live music industry and supporting our local artists and bands. More information can be found here.