Pitchfork, Nina Corcoran:
"Yes SXSW was a superspreader event, and yes my entire band got COVID, as did many others," tweeted Canadian singer-songwriter Charlotte Cornfield. "We obviously knew there was a risk going in, but really feeling for everyone whose tours/lives have been derailed by this thing." Several other bands and radio DJs, music promoters, and record label employees have tweeted similar sentiments after testing positive. [...]
"Large swaths of the live music industry are overeager to pretend we're out of the pandemic. We're leaving behind many folks with disabilities and illnesses, which is not a new problem -- just a new way the ableism inherent in many venue spaces is being expressed since COVID," Speedy Ortiz singer-guitarist Sadie Dupuis tells Pitchfork. "When mask mandates first went away, the largest nurses' union in the country petitioned the CDC to reverse its decision and reinstate masking due to breakthrough cases. Because, vaccinated or not, masks are incredibly effective at preventing infection. With many of us having received boosters six-plus months ago, their efficacy is waning. A breakthrough case could wind up costing your favorite artist tens of thousands of dollars of expected income, the difference between a profitable tour and a tour in the red." [...]
Harpist Mary Lattimore says she still doesn't feel comfortable performing live, but knows it's an essential part of her job. "I link it to the lack of streaming revenue for artists," she explains. "Tour income is basically the only income. It was nonexistent for years so we have to get out there, but we're pretty vulnerable, going from place to place every night. One case of COVID and bands potentially lose thousands and thousands of dollars." [...]
For other touring artists, mask policies aren't necessarily up to them, but rather the headliners they're supporting. Wednesday are slated to open for Beach Bunny on a two-month-long tour, and their newfound discomfort around COVID-19 policy isn't reason enough to bail on such a big opportunity. "Because we're just openers on the tour, I don't feel like we have a ton of authority [to ask for that]," [...] The most I've felt comfortable asking people to wear masks so far is saying, 'Please wear your masks tonight; we have more dates we gotta play,' into the mic.
But "catching COVID might scuttle the tour" is only the start of it, as all of this completely ignores the specter of Long COVID. Wait until two years from now when you learn that your favorite band isn't a band any more, because the financial pressure to crowd into small rooms with antimaskers and antivaxxers means that now they have MS, or diabetes, or 20% lung function, and -- oh yeah -- no health insurance. (Are you kidding? They were in a band.)