Most of us have tickets for concerts that have been canceled because of COVID-19.
Most bands in the Capital Region had a full schedule of shows lined-up for the summer season, which has now been cleared out.
Yet, this doesn’t necessarily mean that live music is entirely canceled, according to concert promoter Greg Bell.
Curbside Concerts, a new service Bell is introducing to the Capital Region, is a way for musicians to perform live and for people to keep enjoying live music, albeit in their driveways or backyards rather than traditional stages.
It was started not too long ago by Eric Gould, the bassist for Pink Talking Fish and Particle.
“He and a bunch of his friends came up with the idea and they tested it out in Colorado and it took off like crazy. People were booking shows right and left from their driveways and their decks, keeping it really small,” Bell said.
After Gould reached out to him, Bell, who runs Guthrie/Bell Productions, decided to bring it to the Capital Region, asking bands if they’d want to sign up for it. He compares the service to Uber, but for musicians. They can create a profile on the website and people who want to hire them to play at small gatherings can contact them and work out the details of how long to perform and exactly where the artist will be performing.
While there are safety requirements listed out on the website concerning social distancing and wearing masks, Bell said that the musicians can leave the gig if those requirements aren’t being met.
“There [are] safeguards there for the artist and the customer. We want this to be a safe situation. We’re not looking at 300-400 people in your backyard. We’re looking at small gatherings; just for musicians to get out there and play for people to enjoy live music again, easing back into it,” Bell said.
Since it launched last week, more than a dozen Capital Region musicians have signed up for it, including Adam Brockway of Eastbound Jesus, TJ Foster of ERIE, The Insolent Willies and others.
However, Bell has found that some musicians are wary of the service.
“The problem is that a lot of musicians have been screwed over by promoters and clubs. I think they’re a little hesitant to get into something new until they see how it’s working,” Bell said.
There is a fee for musicians to sign up and it can be configured one of two ways; either pay a subscription fee or pay a certain percentage per concert.
“I think people were afraid that once they signed up they were going to get this $100 charge every month whether they were playing or not and that’s not what we’re looking to do. We’re looking to help musicians make a little bit of money and survive this mess that we’re in until they can go back to normal,” Bell said.
Although some musicians have been able to get by over the last few months by holding virtual concerts, Bell said many miss live shows.
“The virtual shows have been doing really well. I know artists who are making more money doing that and they don’t have to leave their house. But people are sort of tired of seeing it on a screen. I haven’t watched a lot of the streaming stuff because I want to see it live. I want to feel the energy of the band, the energy of the audience and [hear] the response of the people. That’s what’s exciting for me,” Bell said.
However, he doesn’t see general admission shows starting up anytime soon, and in terms of the safety and health of the musicians and audience members, that’s probably a good thing.
“I think people just need to settle back, relax, be a little patient and things are going to come back. Curbside Concerts is one way of bringing it back a little at a time. I don’t think we can rush it. I think what’s going to happen is there are going to be venues out there who are going to try to push it really fast and it’s going to backfire. I’d rather take my time and ease back into it and make sure it’s done right,” Bell said.
To learn more visit curbsideconcerts.rocks.