By Nicholas Rivero, | I grew up in Miami, Florida, which meant living through countless hurricanes. Each one brought a level of chaos and disruption, but they mostly affected only our corner of the world. This, however, is something different. Unlike any natural disaster, this is the first time in my life I’ve witnessed something that everyone, regardless of location, has had to cope with at once. No person, industry or area of daily life has been left untouched by what’s going on right now.
COVID has impacted every aspect of our lives: we can’t go out with friends, grab dinner, or just swing by our favorite coffee shop. And while our social norms have been uniquely affected, it’s our working lives that have seen the greatest disruption.
This virus, and the economic standstill it has brought, has wreaked havoc on so many industries. The food service industry, for example, has been hit hard. Many brick and mortar locations have closed up, and some have laid off their entire staff. Yet most restaurants have shown resilience, fighting to stay alive through the massive setbacks. Between offering curbside pickup options, embracing delivery only, and even selling liquor to-go, they’re finding ways to adapt and innovate.
But some of us aren’t that fortunate. Myself and my team at MEPTIK live in the world of live events and entertainment. Everything we do is based around locations, gatherings, events, and shows — and those have vanished.
My entire career thus far has consisted of putting on shows. I was thrown into this world from my first day out of college — living out of a suitcase, sleeping on a bus, and loading and unloading semi-trucks each day to put on incredible events. It’s a life I never expected, but one I learned to love.
There is a special kind of magic that lives in creating shared moments in time, and putting those moments together for people has never grown old. The hours are crazy and travel is a must, but knowing that we are creating new experiences for those around us always makes it worth it.
And I think you see where this is going — with every event canceled for the foreseeable future, there’s no industry left. Concert tours, conferences, sporting events, corporate meetings and many more have all shuttered. They all rely on a place, a time, and crews of people behind the scenes planning for months on end who travel, set them up, and see them through.
The people who put on your favorite shows do it because they love it. I can attest. It’s a life lived in the shadows: thankless, unseen, and hidden away in a wardrobe full of black. We all do it because there is a passion to build these experiences.
And what many don’t realize is how large this ecosystem is. It’s not just comprised of roadies, it’s much, much larger:
● The arenas and stadiums who employ office staff, security, technical, and many more…all the way through to concessions.
● The trucking, shipping, and logistics required to move equipment around daily.
● The travel and lodging industries, which are deeply intertwined with live events. Crews of people are driven around on tour buses, fly major airlines daily and stay in hotels each night in-between.
● The production vendors who supply all of the equipment to make these events happen.
● The artists, speakers, hosts, and all of the on-stage talent, as well as the promoters, event organizers, and their logistics teams.
● Those that design the shows themselves — individuals, studios, agencies and more.
I think you get the idea — the impact on our industry, and the other industries intertwined with ours, is far, wide, and deep.
While we’re all working from home adapting to this ‘new normal’— the real question we’re all asking is, “When will we return to any semblance of what normal used to be?”
But, you see, our normal isn’t everyone else’s normal. It won’t return when cities begin to reopen. . . .
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Nicholas Rivero: Co-Founder of Atlanta based MEPTIK. Believer of all things innovative and interesting. http://meptik.com/virtual
Beth Peerless: This is a good article. I really hope that some form of unemployment insurance will come through for all of you folks, Brian, who are not able to work and may not for a long time. I’m in the same boat as you, you may know, because my job depends on there being live entertainment. I could branch into another area of writing, but I love my job at The Herald, and want to wait and see how that pans out over the next six months or so. I’m tired and enjoying the rest. And I’ve kind of adjusted to this quiet alone time. Nonetheless, something’s got to give. Hang tight, it may not be a bad acid trip, but similarly know that the virus will eventually fall into the same category as other viral illnesses and cease to be a mortal threat.