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

Regulations

  • 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

Diversity

  • 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

Sources

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. http://www.artsandvenuesdenver.com/assets/doc/Music_Industry_COVID_Final-bcc2026e10.pdf. 

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

Davis, A. T. (2020, October 21). News. The Rocky Mountain Collegian. https://collegian.com/2020/10/category-arts-and-culture-the-current-and-future-impacts-of-covid-19-on-the-colorado-music-scene/. 

Davis, A. T. (2020, November 3). News. The Rocky Mountain Collegian. https://collegian.com/2020/11/category-arts-and-culture-current-future-impacts-of-covid-19-on-colorado-music-scene-part-two/. 

Eastman, A. K. (2021, March 1). How live venues are faring after nearly a year without crowds. KUSA.com. https://www.9news.com/article/news/local/storytellers/colorado-venues-covid/73-3f38a016-3d2e-497c-a906-13301c43a902. 

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. https://www.5280.com/2018/02/denver-music-scene-2018/. 

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. https://303magazine.com/2020/06/denvers-music-industry-diversity/. 

Seman, M. (2018). (rep.). Colorado’s Music Industry: A Current Analysis & Look Forward. University of Colorado Denver College of Arts & Media. Retrieved from https://oedit.colorado.gov/sites/coedit/files/documents/Colorado_Music_Industry_Study_2018.pdf 

Wenzel, J. (2021, April 12). Hickenlooper touts $16 billion program for shuttered Colorado music venues. The Know Denver Post. https://theknow.denverpost.com/2021/04/12/john-hickenlooper-shuttered-venue-operator-grant/256334/. 

Will, J. (2020, February 11). How Denver’s Live Music Scene Exploded. Rolling Stone. https://www.rollingstone.com/music/music-features/denver-live-music-scene-colorado-938171/amp/.