Unfortunately, nearly every part of our society has been hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. The music industry is no different. While many of your favorite superstars have plenty of money to fall back on, the musicians that have yet to break out with their first nationwide hit may not. In order to help some of our local performers out, Livewire, a local live events company, has stepped up to showcase their talents and help them out financially. We sat down with founder Kent Kolstad to learn more.
How did you decide to start doing these donation-based shows?
When COVID-19 took hold in mid-March and required many to quarantine and work remotely, we found that our event production schedule quickly cleared out for the next 3-4 months.
While we are grateful that many of our clients have chosen to postpone their events to later in the year, that still means that our income has been severely reduced for this period. Our team brainstormed ideas and quickly realized that many musicians and artists would be faced with the same challenge of lack of income from their regular local gigs, whatever those might be. We decided to reach out to a couple of local musicians and bands to see if there might be interest in being featured on a live-streamed broadcast, LIVE@Livewire, from our warehouse space, which we quickly converted into a unique music venue for this purpose.
In lieu of paying them, we offered to set up a GoFundMe for the musicians featured, donating 100 percent of the evening’s proceeds to them. The idea took off right away, raising over $1,000 on the first episode on March 17, with every show afterward doing just as well. We had over 9,100 unique views on the first show alone!
Why do you think it’s important to help these musicians out and give viewers entertainment during these times?
First and foremost, as someone who comes from an arts and music background, I know first-hand that music brings people together, even if they’re apart. As the COVID-19 situation became more and more serious, we realized that there would be a need for people to take in and enjoy the arts in their homes — something other than radio, TV, or their Spotify playlists. Keeping these musicians playing means that viewers of all ages have an opportunity to consume and support local art, taking in something new that they may not have heard before, and to support their favorite local musicians in meaningful ways by showing they’re watching online, and donating to support the musicians’ continued creative work. While we know that many of the musicians we’ve featured do have “other jobs” — part-time, full-time, etc., — we recognize that income from their art is a valid, real source of income, and that it is one that should not be disrupted if we as a community want to be true supporters of our artists and musicians.
What has the response been like from the music community?
We have been so grateful to see a tremendous response from the music community — both individual musicians and full bands have applied and have been featured since we got started.
How can people submit apllications?
Sign up at LiveAtLivewire.com!
Donations are open. How else can the community help? Livewire needs to be able to sustain the work of its staff to produce these shows. We are grateful to have had two local companies sign on as sponsors, but we are in need of more support from our local business community to keep producing LIVE@Livewire. Sponsors are featured throughout the programming of each show by means of logos on the screen, social media mentions, and more. Those interested can sign up at LiveAtLivewire.com.
Livewire, in general, is really doing a great job of giving customers options to go on with their live events as planned during this pandemic and I’m sure you’ve seen an increase in demand. With that said, your company is still finding time to give back to local musicians. Do you have a passion for music yourself?
Thank you for the kind words! As it pertains to music, I was very involved in theatre and music from a young age through college, and actually was a wedding DJ for about 15 years, too. I’ll listen with open ears to any genre out there. I can always find something to enjoy about the music I’m listening to. Music isn’t just a bonus of living life; rather, it is the soundtrack that forms our lives and which can create meaningful impact across people and cultures.
Is there anything else you have in the works or anything else unique that Livewire might do from a business standpoint during this pandemic?
We just launched StreamConferences.com to bring to light our streaming broadcast services at Livewire. We’ve been very involved in bringing high-quality, fast, real-time one-way and two-way streaming to our live event clients over the last few years; as an example, networking companies with many national offices together for a unified company meeting, and jumping between locations in real-time to listen to presenters give updates from each location. While we certainly don’t want to see gatherings go away — gathering people and immersing them in an experience is critically important to communicating a message, no matter what type of event — we are uniquely positioned based on our work with streaming live events to know what is expected of a true immersive live event and how that can genuinely translate into a virtual event.