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Concerts Are on Hold. Workers Behind the Stars Are Hurting. | Press "Enter" to skip to content

Concerts Are on Hold. Workers Behind the Stars Are Hurting.

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For most touring workers, the shutdown came as no surprise, even if the impact has been sudden.

Saint Motel, an indie-pop band from Los Angeles, completed an American tour this month, just as South by Southwest and the Coachella festival were scuttling their spring plans. (Coachella has announced plans to move to October.) Brandon Jazz, Saint Motel’s tour manager, noticed that on the tour’s final shows, along the West Coast, venues were getting emptier and emptier.

“You would have a sold-out show,” Mr. Jazz said, “but then the back of the room is empty, because people are scared to go out.”

As the reality of months without work settles in, many touring workers said they were seizing the chance to bone up on technical skills, through online classes or informal workshops that fellow crew members are organizing on the fly. Still, for a business that depends on travel and social gatherings, there may be few opportunities for gainful employment, and several crew members said they were concerned that their skills were not easily translatable to other businesses.

“Our industry can’t work from home,” said Paul Bradley, the chief executive of Eventric, which makes software for managing tour logistics. “If they’re not on the road, they’re not being employed.”

Ms. Parker, who has also toured with Saint Motel, said she was most concerned about the mental-health hazards that may come with extended periods of unemployment and isolation — which would exacerbate the stress and depression that many crew members already battle after stepping off the road.

Like others, Ms. Parker said she did not know what she would do if touring work dried up.

“It would be so hard for me personally if this industry downsized or something,” she said, “because I find the most joy out of what I do. If I couldn’t get that back, and had to pursue a completely different career path, it would alter me forever.”


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