Hope is on the horizon for a group of nearly 40 Texas music acts after their concert schedule came to a grinding halt amidst the global COVID-19 pandemic.
A major talent booking agency, Gulf Coast Entertainment, recently launched the Band(ing) Together fundraising campaign for Texas based artists that abruptly had shows canceled due to the global health emergency. More specifically, more than 50 contract cancellations representing more than $150,000 in lost or deferred revenue affected GCE artists.
It's what spurred GCE principals Susie Criner and her daughter, Annie Eifler, to start the campaign to help offset some of the costs of the lost shows which make up a large chunk of income for musicians.
"We've had a ton of events that we've had to reschedule or cancel completely," Eifler tells CultureMap. "If they get cancelled, the artists don't get any money and if they've been rescheduled, it's won't be until the spring of next year. We know our artists have to pay the bills and our artists are like our family."
Some of the artists that will benefit from the campaign include a diverse set of groups that have been on the GCE roster for years, including the Spazmatics, The Grooves, the Honky Tonk Revivalists, DJ Senega, and the Zydeco Dots.
Every donor who contributes to Band(ing)Together, regardless of the donation, will be entered into a random drawing to win a live, virtual performance consisting of two to three songs by Austin City Limits Hall of Fame member and acclaimed blues singer, Marcia Ball.
The winner will be drawn and announced when the campaign concludes on Friday, May 8. Those who wish to donate before the Friday deadline can do so at the campaign's GoFundMe page.
“Musicians are hurting right now to be sure, and I am pleased to be able to lend my support to this GoFundMe, created by my friend Susie Criner," Ball said in a statement. "We are ‘banding together’ all across the gulf coast during this time of need for our musician brothers and sisters.”
Founded in 1979 by Criner, Gulf Coast Entertainment is a full-service entertainment consulting company specializing in nationally recognized artists and live music for weddings, non-profit galas, festivals, social and corporate events in Houston and beyond.
This year, the company merged with EastCoast Entertainment to form a combined entity to represent more than 150 acts. While the future of live music is still up in the air, GCE is still taking calls about rescheduling gigs for its artists, and pivoting towards booking corporate events, private parties, and weddings in addition to setting up virtual performances.
"We don't have a crystal ball, but what we do know is people still want to celebrate," Eifler says. "We're still getting calls for proposals, we're still getting interest in national entertainers, which is an interesting angle to this whole thing. National entertainers can't tour right now so the only way they can make money right now is through private and corporate events, so our clients have an incredible opportunity to capitalize on engaging national artists in a way we've never had the opportunity to do before."
The relief effort is one of several that popped up over the last few weeks. In the Bayou City, the Houston Music Foundation has been raising thousands of dollars for grants for hundreds of artists that lost income over the last few months. Other major cities have similar organizations working to provide funds to those unable to play gigs.