Some news for the state’s music scene is good: Self-employed songwriters and others will be eligible for loans and aid, and on-line performance opportunities abound. The news roundup at Local Spins.
MARCH 30 UPDATE: Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer today announced expanded unemployment benefits for workers affected by COVID-19, including self-employed and low-wage workers not previously eligible. Get details online here.
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Michigan musicians, songwriters and music industry folks slammed by the coronavirus pandemic — many of them self-employed and dependent on the “gig economy” — have faced significant uncertainty about their financial future, especially because many of them also work as part-time servers and bartenders at closed restaurants and bars.
Fortunately, the new $2 trillion stimulus bill passed by the U.S. Senate includes provisions for songwriters, musicians and other “sole proprietors, independent contractors and self-employed” workers to apply for federal grant and loan programs, with some even qualifying for unemployment.
The U.S. House of Representatives is expected to overwhelmingly pass the stimulus package bill, according to CNN. Expect to hear more details about the loan and grant programs in coming days and weeks.
In other music-related news across West Michigan:
• Joining other venues that are testing the online waters, Spring Lake’s Seven Steps Up is kicking off a new “Seven Steps Upstream” virtual concert series with a performance at 8 p.m. Saturday by West Michigan folk duo Ruth & Max Bloomquist. Fans can watch the performances from the safety of their own homes and make donations that will be split equally between the performers, Seven Steps Up and an employee fund. Details here. And find more live-stream concerts in Local Spins’ new Viral Virtual Venues show listings.
• The first-ever, online “Spread the Music Festival” benefiting the Michigan Artist Relief Fund begins at 5 p.m. today (Thursday, March 26) with a revised and expanded schedule of performances that now features 42 Michigan bands and solo artists playing on the hour every hour over four days. Check out the amended schedule of performances online here, where you can also donate to the cause.
• Venues and bars may be closed, but many are still seeking support from patrons and live music devotees. The Tip Top Deluxe Bar & Grill has established a GoFundMe campaign for the business and its employees, The Intersection is promoting sales of T-shirts here with proceeds going directly to employees; The Pyramid Scheme is directing fans to purchase T-shirts and posters via its online gift shop, and Founders Brewing is asking folks to shop at its online store. Other venues — from SpeakEZ Lounge to Rockford Brewing to Cedar Springs Brewing and many others — have turned to takeout service to keep the lights on. Visit the Facebook pages of your favorite venues, bars or restaurants to see how you can help out during this unprecedented shutdown.
• In spite of their own uncertain future, many musicians and bands have stepped up to contribute to those in need, with several directing contributions to the Michigan Artist Relief Fund. Meanwhile, the Grand Rapids band Often Home is donating a portion of all its T-shirt sales through mid-April to Kids’ Food Basket to aid families affected by the COVID-19 crisis. Get information about that online here. And Local Spins will donate 50 percent of proceeds from sales of its waffle-knit beanies to the Michigan Artist Relief Fund through June. Get those here.
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