The idea for the online festival "started out with the premise that every great artist started their career at an independent, small stage, somewhere around the country," says Stephen Sternschein, NIVA’s board treasurer and executive producer of #SOSFEST. "We literally just started calling up artists one at a time, talking about NIVA and supporting us through our advocacy program and asking them if they'd like to perform at the festival."
Ali Rivera, head of artist partnerships and live music at YouTube Music, said: "It was important to us to make sure we're covered across the U.S. and representing all of the top cities that artists are based in, celebrating live music's iconic history and diversity in terms of ownership. We wanted it to be a full story and really informative from the artist community's perspective."
Music venues and dance halls were the first to close because of the COVID-19 pandemic and will be among the last venues to reopen. Legislation that would have provided more than $10 billion in aid to venues impacted by the COVID-19 virus was included in the Heroes Act, which passed the House earlier this month, but this week President Donald Trump took to Twitter to instruct his Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin to end relief package negotiation talks with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
With the aid legislation now in jeopardy, it's more important than ever to raise awareness for the plight of independent venues. #SOSFEST will be hosted by comedian and musician Reggie Watts and feature performances from 35 artists recorded live from more than 25 independent concert venues across the United States. These artists join YouTube and NIVA to amplify the message of NIVA’s Save Our Stages advocacy efforts and raise funds for its nationwide, need-based grant program to provide relief to these important members of the independent music, comedy and arts community. #SOSFEST will livestream in its entirety on NIVA’s YouTube channel with segments simultaneously airing on performer’s own YouTube channels. Fans can donate directly to the NIVA Emergency Relief Fund, which benefits independent venues in peril, on NIVA’s channel now.
Save Our Stages will feature all original performances recorded specifically for the festival. The event is presented by Bud Light Seltzer which will donate $1 million to NIVA as part of #SOSFEST, and with the help of production and livestream partners Big Room and Bulldog Digital Media.
“Live concerts are the heart and soul of the music industry so it's critical we do everything we can to save independent music venues,” says Lyor Cohen, global head of music at YouTube. “We are honored to partner with NIVA and create #SOSFEST which gives fans an opportunity to virtually connect with their favorite artists and venues, while doing their part to save these cherished stages. YouTube is in it for the long-haul and we hope you are too.”
To learn more about #SOSFEST visit NIVA’s YouTube channel and stay tuned to saveourstages.com for updates on the weekend’s full schedule and more.