Colorado, USA   –   Research

Geography & Demographics

  • Colorado is a state-region located in the US Midwest
  • Total state population: ~5,750,000 as of 2019 (US Census)
    • Population growth of 14.5% since 2010 (Census)
    • Changes in population favoring a growth in younger generations (Millennials & Gen-Z)
  • The music industry is responsible for ~16,000 jobs & $1.4 billion in revenue (Seman)
  • Biggest sector of revenue & employment comes from musicians, “those that facilitate [musicians’] careers,” & jobs relating to live music events
    • “The “Musicians, Managers, and Agents” industry subsector represents $498.6 million in revenue and 7,816 jobs which is 49% of overall employment.” (Seman)
  • Other employment sectors include: Radio (5%), Instruments (6%), Education (7%), & Recording/Product (4%) (Seman)
  • Over half (~53%) of all music industry jobs are located in the Denver metropolitan area (8,569) (Seman)
  • Denver also generates roughly ~60% of all revenue for the state’s industry (~$842 million) (Seman)

Trends in Live & Recorded Music (Pre-COVID)

  • Prior to COVID, the industry experienced substantial growth & was continuing to grow
    • Growth attributable to the growth in technology
    • Growth correlated w/similar levels of growth in tourism & population size
  • “The “Live Events” industry subsector represents $489.8 million in revenue and 4,649 jobs which is 29% of overall employment.” (Seman)
    • Second largest sector — contributes to music tourism growth
    • The live music sector has experienced the most growth across all regions of CO in the past decade
    • 2016 – ~2,800,000 tickets sold for ~1,200 live music events, creating a gross revenue of ~$143,000,000 (Seman)
      • Red Rock Amphitheater – attendance has grown significantly, with attendance reaching over 1 million in 2016
  • Recorded music makes up a very small portion of revenue ~$86 million (Seman)
    • Developments in digital technology have changed how musicians & sound engineers record – shift away from traditional studios towards home studios


  • Pre-COVID – Colorado Noise Ordinance permitting “excessively loud” noise between the hours of 7 am – 7pm
  • CDC Covid guidelines apply to live performances & shows — opened up live performances in June 2020, but soon closed afterwards due to surge of cases
    • When venues first opened in June 2020, not all types of musicians were allowed, as wind instrument performers weren’t permitted 
  • Some places allowed show rehearsals again in February
  • See funding section for regulations regarding funding for each music sector

Government Funding

  • COVID – Diminishing of resources for smaller bands/artists – no diy venues, no ability to headline for bigger artists, less collabs
  • Some venues (Avrogado’s Number, the Aggie Theater, Surfside 7, Mishawaka) received aid from the government as part of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), as part of the CARES ACT
    • National Independent Venue Association (NIVA) thinks it may not be enough
  • The Bohemian Foundation was able to provide 139 grants to artists/industry professionals in Northern CO amounting to $127,000 in aid thru the NoCo Music Relief Fund
  • Fort Collins Small Business Assistance Program designed to help venues aided through the PPP
  • RESTART Act – would extend the PPP to include more local businesses/venues, make aid more accessible to everyone
  • SOS ACT – would allow the Small Business Administration to provide aid for industry professionals who have been affected


The Denver Post – Sen. Hickenlooper (April 2021):

  • Sen. Hickenlooper announces the Shuttered Venue Operator Grant Program on April 6
  • Program plans to provide venues with 45% of their respective pre-COVID revenues or no more than $10 million
  • Hickenlooper’s grant program also applies to other performing-arts (such as talent agencies & theater producers) businesses that meet “specific criteria”
    • Venues owned by LiveNation & AEG Presents are not eligible for aid

Frictions & Tensions

  • Pre-Covid – recording music sector was diminishing, as more musicians/sound engineers/professionals on the creative side turned to home studios rather than label-based production
  • Consolidation of ownership by major players – LiveNation & AEG Presents control many of the venues throughout the state
    • Priorititizes stable, established musicians rather than the local, DIY scene
  • COVID – smaller venues help small & up-&-coming artists the most, yet those have been hit the hardest
    • Loss of important venues – Fort Collin’s Hodi’s Half Note & Pinball Jones Campus West — These venues were crucial to the local scene due to how much they supported small musicians & the DIY scene


  • Inconsistent levels of diversity in Denver’s industry – while the artists that come out of Denver are incredibly diverse, the business side is lacking
  • For AEG Presents & LiveNation, no decision-making roles (talent buyers, marketing, executives, etc.) are filled by BIPOC
    • These two promotion companies control a significant portion of Denver’s live music venues
  • When looking at all prominent promoters, there are only two female talent-buyers, meaning that all other talent-buyer roles are filled by white men
  • Lack of management positions filled by BIPOC, distinct trend in Denver-based music-management companies in which there are no BIPOC managers & booking agents
    • 7S Management – no managers of color, only 5 BIPOC artists
      • Their comments said that 7S partner Chris Tetzeli joined the Black Music Action Coalition & that he was committed to accountability
  • The lack of diversity has implications for the music played in Denver — multiple instances in which Denver venues have hosted a handful BIPOC artists in a given year, if any at all

COVID Impact on Music Sector Health

  • Prior to COVID, a majority of CO’s music sectors were growing in size & increasing in revenue (charts)
  • Between April-July 2020 – estimated that >31,000 CO jobs lost in performing arts industries, which has accounted for >$800 million lost in revenue
  • Musicians being paid in donations from fans from live streams
    • Artists struggling a lot, some struggling to have 3 meals a day (Dazzle Jazz)
  • Country-wide – 90% of independent venues report that they’ll have to close without federal/state funding
  • Estimates that the CO music scene lost ~$344 million in July 2020, an industry that made ~$1.2 billion in 2018
    • 47% of lost revenue & 40% (~3,300) of lost jobs in the industry came from live music
    • Ripple effect that translates to other industries
  • Live streaming favoring some types of music & artists over others – 
    • Some CO bands were successful with it (Chess at Breakfast & The Sogs) 
    • Some rappers (Mitchell James) found that it didn’t allow for the same level of performance
    • Some artists didn’t want to perform without the “interactivity of the crowd”
    • Just starting out artists could use live streams, but pre-COVID they relied heavily on community engagement to gain traction
  • CO artists’ thoughts on the future of DIY & large venues:
    • Many believe that when things open up again, there will be an influx of DIY venue spaces to meet the demand for a DIY scene
    • Some are concerned about not being able to do shows at larger venues, as they think these venues will prioritize artists with larger/more stable fanbases
      • Not all artists expressed this concern, as some think that the scene would continue to incorporate local artists due to the demand for local music
  • Study conducted at CSU predicts that it would take some time for Fort Collins’ music scene to return to pre-COVID health, significant reduction in venues


Arts & Venues, City of Denver. (2020, July). Initial Impacts of the COVID-19 Crisis on the Music Industry in Colorado and the Denver Metropolitan Region. Denver Arts & Venues. 

Colorado, US. (n.d.). U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts Colorado. Colorado, US. 

Davis, A. T. (2020, October 21). News. The Rocky Mountain Collegian. 

Davis, A. T. (2020, November 3). News. The Rocky Mountain Collegian. 

Eastman, A. K. (2021, March 1). How live venues are faring after nearly a year without crowds. 

King, L. B., Reedy, A., Kuta, S., Daliah Singer, E. K.-H., & Staff. (2018, March 6). Denver’s Live Music Scene Is Better Than Ever. 5280. 

Music Desk Editor & Talent Buyer, Arbor, B. in A., Hazel, K., Fox, Z., Wrenn, C., Sasser, L., Hansen, M., 30, J., 1, J., 2, J., & Name*. (2020, July 3). Denver’s Music Industry Lacks Diversity Where It Counts. 303 Magazine. 

Seman, M. (2018). (rep.). Colorado’s Music Industry: A Current Analysis & Look Forward. University of Colorado Denver College of Arts & Media. Retrieved from 

Wenzel, J. (2021, April 12). Hickenlooper touts $16 billion program for shuttered Colorado music venues. The Know Denver Post. 

Will, J. (2020, February 11). How Denver’s Live Music Scene Exploded. Rolling Stone.