COVID-19 and Salt Lake City’s Music Scene: Sartain & Saunders Presents

Tomey Averett, Executive Producer

COVID-19 and quarantine seems like the only thing to pay attention to lately. With the world scrambling to stay afloat, what about our favorite local music scene? How are the local venues like the Urban Lounge, Metro Music Hall, and the beloved Kilby Court holding up? How are artists and promoters handling this situation? I reached out to our good friends at Sartain & Saunders (S&S), a local promoting agency that have been in the 801 since 2003 to find out how they are doing in this mess.

I had the opportunity to reach out to Nic Smith, the ticketing and sales manager at Sartain & Saunders and ask him a few questions about S&S’s approach to quarantine.  We as music enthusiasts and concert addicts can make sure our favorite promoters, artists, and venues all come out of this pandemic stronger than before.

How has COVID-19 affected S&S as a company?

Nic: “This outbreak has basically turned us on our heads. Our business success is contingent on the mass gathering of people in a confined area, so to have that be made illegal is pretty devastating. Our core office of event planners are the only ones left with work as we try to anticipate the re-opening of everything. However, with no shows happening, we have had to furlough all of our night staff employees including sound techs, managers, bartenders, door staff, cleaning crews, etc. A few of them have even been with us for 5-10+ years and were forced into unemployment almost without warning. This outbreak has been the hardest on them, without a doubt.”

Is S&S hoping to reschedule some of the events cancelled during the spring season?

Nic: “Yes. We have been working with artists and their teams to reschedule their show dates to the late summer and fall. So far, we are feeling good about the quality of acts who are rescheduling at this time. However, this is an unpredictable circumstance and many are still postponing to 2021 to be safe.”

What is S&S doing to comeback after COVID-19?

Nic: “We have cut as many costs as possible to keep ourselves afloat until the re-opening. We are hoping that most people will be hungry for live music experiences once quarantine is lifted (I certainly am already), and we will be set up in a good position to accommodate them.”

Sage Holt
The Aces perform at the Salt Lake Twilight Concert Series in 2019, co-presented by S&S

How can the community help local promoters & local artists during this situation?

Nic: “For promoters, I would suggest purchasing a ticket to a fall concert that you are excited for or picking up a gift card to be used later if they are participating in that way. For artists, I recommend buying an album, a t-shirt, etc. Basically anything that will help boost their income as they face economic hardships. And if you are short of funds yourself, even messaging some of your favorite bands and expressing your gratitude for their music will mean the world to them. Words of encouragement go a long way in times like these.”

How do you think COVID-19 will impact the music scene in Salt Lake?

Nic: “It’s hard to say. I am hopeful that the impact will be minimal and that we will all rush to concerts again like kids being let out for recess when the ban is lifted. However, in my less optimistic mind, I am prepared for a more gradual return as people become more comfortable with returning to the outside world. Also, who knows, maybe there will be lots of new musicians emerging after quarantine who finally got the time to practice and record. We can only hope for the best.”

What is everyone at S&S looking forward to after COVID-19 passes?

Nic: “Besides reliable employment, I think we all really just want to regain that special feeling of seeing our favorite artist, inside our favorite venue, having a beer with our favorite people.”

What is the best part about working from home if you are working from home?

Nic: “I have found it helpful in funny ways. For example, I lost 10 lbs the first two weeks just from not eating out everyday for lunch and cooking my own meals haha. So that was an eye opener. On the one hand, it has been nice to have a break from the day to day grind that I had become accustomed to. But really, the implications of working from home definitely aren’t worth the comfort of sweatpants, and I can’t wait to get back out there again.”

Support our Local Music Scene TODAY

The best way to ensure our beloved music scene in Salt Lake City can come back strong, is to help them now! Please consider buying tickets to a postponed show, purchasing merch from artists, or donate to S&S on their website that will be listed below. We love our music scene just as much as you do. Let’s work together to make sure we can help out as much as possible. Spread kindness, be safe, and we will see you at the venues soon enough!