NATIONWIDE — “What we're going through is an extinction event,” Chris Bauman, who owns and operates several music venues in Chicago, said. “We’re the first to shut down, we’re gonna be last to open back up.”

Hearing your favorite song in person.

A late night out dancing.

Singing at the top of your lungs with your friends.

These are the things that music enthusiasts worry may take a long time to return, if at all, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

A survey conducted in June by the National Independent Venue Association (NIVA) found that 90% of independent music venues will be forced to close permanently without government intervention.

“Constantly, every single day we used to call agents and musicians and managers,” Bauman said. “Now we're on the phone with senators and congressmen and mayors and aldermen.”

Providing assistance is something that politicians on both sides of the aisle agree on. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) and former 2020 presidential candidate Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) have introduced the Save Our Stages Act, which would “provide Small Business Administration grants for independent live music venue operators” impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

The act would provide $10 billion in grant funding for independently owned music venues.

“Minnesota’s concert halls, theatres, and places of entertainment, like First Avenue in Minneapolis, where Prince famously performed, have inspired generations with the best of local music, art, and education,” Sen. Klobuchar said in a statement in July. “This legislation would help ensure that small entertainment venues can continue to operate, and serve our communities for generations to come.”

“Texas is home to a number of historic and world-class small entertainment venues, many of which remain shuttered after being the first businesses to close,” Sen. Cornyn added. “The culture around Texas dance halls and live music has shaped generations, and this legislation would give them the resources to reopen their doors and continue educating and inspiring Texans beyond the coronavirus pandemic.”

Audrey Fix Schaefer, the head of communications for the NIVA, says that other industries will suffer if live music venues don’t survive.

“We are an economic trigger for so many of the businesses around us,” said Fix Schaefer, who also serves as the head of communications for independent concert promotion and production company I.M.P., as well as a number of venues in the Washington, D.C., area. 

“If we were to fold, all of the area restaurants and hotels and retail shops are going to suffer too.”

With no means to pay past due bills for thousands of clubs across the country, Fix Schaefer says the Save Our Stages Act could be the industry’s last hope.

“Otherwise there will be a mass collapse of this industry,” Fix Schaefer added.

Congress did not pass the act before leaving for the August recess. The legislation is still pending.