When the ruins are cleared away
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Music has always been there for us. Marking life’s milestones. Getting us through hard times. It connects, comforts and inspires us.

And in this painful time, the music community has once again come out in force – raising voices, spirits and funds for COVID relief through direct contributions, neighborhood “concerts,” living room livestreams, and dedicating new releases to the cause. Whether for musicians and others affected by COVID and the economic downturn, frontline health workers or the communities in which we live, music has been there.

That’s why it was so vital for Congress and the administration to provide funds in the first CARES Act for those small businesses and individuals in the music sectors affected by the crisis – like road crew, venue workers, independent producers, artists and songwriters.

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For those who have seen their jobs on live gigs or studio work vanish, the support represented a recognition that music has been there for America and that America is going to be there for music. Thank you to the policymakers who enacted this critical legislation. And thanks also to all of those across the music community who supported it – not to grab their own piece of the pie – but to fight for those music workers and performers and venues most at risk.

It was a great accomplishment, but unfortunately significant gaps remain. As a community, we have come together to try to fill them. But there’s more that needs to be done.

For example, federal guidelines still need to be tailored to accommodate the mixed revenue streams of musicians. States are still struggling to implement the CARES Act’s promise to expand aid to the original “gig” workers and the self-employed. Local venues and self-employed musicians are struggling to access the Paycheck Protection Program. And most fundamentally, the crisis for live music continues as normalcy remains far off.

In order to help, the coalition that fought to protect creators in the original CARES Act launched MusicCovidRelief.com, an up-to-the-minute resource collecting news, information, and relief options, both public and private, in one place – a collaborative, community effort anyone with tips and ideas can support.

But ultimately, it’s more than the music community can do alone.

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The federal government clearly has more to do and a united music community will be there to help. That means a new COVID-19 relief bill that deepens relief to small businesses and independent and self-employed workers – not just in music but across the broader economy – so when the lights come back on, audiences are healthy, secure and ready to rock.

But that won’t happen if we let millions of members of the music community fall through the cracks. There is a hole in this safety net that Congress must fix in the next version of relief legislation to make sure music creators can access COVID relief programs and stay afloat for the duration of the crisis.

Writing about the arts after her breakthrough novella on the 1918 flu pandemic “Pale Horse, Pale Rider,” Katherine Anne Porter described how “the voice of the individual artist” can outlast a society itself, enduring through history and surviving even the most epochal changes. The arts, she wrote, “are what we find again when the ruins are cleared away.”

When social distancing ends, rebuilding will begin. Artists will once more take the stage in re-opened stadiums, bars, and clubs. They will head into studios to record soundtracks for rescheduled weddings and proms and the most sorely needed “Song of the Summer” in our history.

As a creative community and as a broader society that values and sustains the arts, we must come together now so that, when today’s ruins are cleared away, music will be there to renew us all.

Mitch Glazier is chairman and CEO of the Recording Industry Association of America.