Battered, But Not Out

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From last week to this week, everyone’s world has changed drastically.

The entire state of Louisiana—indeed, the whole of the US—is on lockdown. We’re being battered healthwise, financially, economically, culturally by a non-sentient virus.

The entire music ecosystem—musicians, bands, bars, clubs, restaurants, doormen, sound techs, bartenders, servers, festivals (BUKU moved to Labor Day weekend; French Quarter Fest moved to October 1 – 4; Jazz Fest postponed until “fall”; Festival International canceled, and a lot more)—is affected.  Gatherings of over ten people are prohibited.

We’re in a situation none of us has ever experienced before.

The amount of economic harm the COVID-19 pandemic is wreaking is obviously that of people potentially getting sick, some dying. That’s really bad. But in New Orleans, the closing down of the entire city is having an enormously negative and unpredictable effect on our music scene and the city’s future existence.

We thought Katrina was bad. At least we could leave the city or state to go someplace where we could live safely and make a bit of money to pay the bills. This is far, far worse, and we’re all pretty much on the same life raft, wondering how in the hell we’re going to weather this storm.

Our April print edition was supposed to go to press this evening. But last Friday—before the mandatory closure of all live music venues, bars and restaurants—we got in touch with our advertiser/supporters, and the cancelations started pouring in. If your club or bar isn’t open, then there really isn’t anything to advertise. Musicians lose paychecks (and/or tips). The economic ripple effect in this community, which lives on tourists, is going to be deep, wide and long-lasting, depending on how bad the virus gets.

Obviously, we’ve had to postpone publishing the April print edition of OffBeat. We (our staff and contributors) and our clients are at the mercy of an unseen enemy that’s threatened to get stronger and more virulent in the next few weeks, or even months. Our commitment to our advertisers, our staff and to the music community is strong; we will publish in print as soon as we are able and when our clients and supporters are open and operating.

Assuming OffBeat does survive, the April issue has been completely written, with much more of it put on hold until French Quarter Fest in October.  We are endeavoring to get the next issue to the printer and on the streets by April 20; we will reflect it as the April/May issue. Going forward, we may have to continue with a June/July issue and then an August/September print issue. Right now, we are in limbo, and hope you understand our situation and will be patient. Hopefully, this crisis will pass sooner rather than later, and you’ll see an October French Quarter Fest guide in OffBeat, with the Jazz Fest Bible being printed and distributed concurrent with the fall Jazz Fest.

In the meantime, we will continue publishing news and features on OffBeat.com, on our social media platforms and via the Weekly Beat. If you have not subscribed to the Weekly Beat, we encourage you to do so at OffBeat.com. We’ll try to keep you posted any changes we know about (for example, a few clubs are starting to livestream performances).

For the foreseeable future, OffBeat will be published in a digital format only. Our small business, like many, many others, is not receiving the necessary revenue we need to keep printing, distributing or mailing the print magazine to our subscribers, or even to keep our office doors open. For the time being, the OffBeat staff is working from home, and doing our best to keep you and our extended worldwide music community informed.

We are looking at this crisis as an opportunity to extend OffBeat’s digital outreach to the 55,000 subscribers to the Weekly Beat and the hundreds of thousands of web readers and social media patrons who are loyal to OffBeat’s message about local music and culture.

If you need help getting the word out about any events, or the status of your band’s music or your business operations, please let me know.

Bonne chance to us all, and we’ll talk again.

 

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