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An ‘Uncancelled’ Festival Will Bring Music to Your Home Every Week

Colbie Caillat, Waxahatchee, Snail Mail and Beach Bunny headline virtual festival as a potential new model in light of concert shutdowns

Colbie Caillat, Waxahatchee and Snail Mail will headline a virtual festival as a potential new model in light of concert shutdowns.

AFF-USA/Shutterstock, Adela Loconte/Shutterstock, Gabe Ginsberg/Getty Images

Colbie Caillat, Waxahatchee, Beach Bunny and Snail Mail are a few of the nearly 300 artists slated to perform in the newly announced UnCancelled Music Festival, a global digital music event that kicked off Thursday.

UnCancelled is the most recent — and one of the larger — of the online music events that have sparked up since COVID-19 put a temporary hold on the live music industry. Some of the festival’s proceeds will go to MusiCare’s COVID-19 Relief Fund, and it’s partnered with Fender, who is helping with promotion and will have its own curated virtual stage for the festival. (Bandzoogle, Ari’s Take and Spaceland Presents have also partnered for the event.)

UnCancelled is airing via livestreaming company StageIT, with 25 independent venues curating streams through the platform simultaneously, though the festival plans to add more venues and stages. Performers will play 30 to 45-minute sets, organizers said, and over 200 other independent venues have reached out looking to take part in the festival. While the festival will commence on a weekly basis, festival co-founder Ari Herstand, a musician and writer, said the team is looking to keep the festival active as long as the pandemic stalls live touring.

Other artists on the bill include Betty Who, The Aces and Kevin Garrett. Among the venues curating for the festival are Los Angeles staple Hotel Cafe and New York’s Rockwood Music Hall, along with PianoFight in San Francisco, World Cafe Live in Philadelphia and venues across the world in countries including England, Portugal, Australia and Japan.

With global artists and venues, UnCancelled will be a practically 24-hour show, festival organizers say, and StageIT airs live shows without archives, meaning those looking to watch a particular act will have to tune in live, like at an in-person festival. StageIT runs on a pay-what-you-want model, so the amount of potential proceeds, and artist payout from the platform’s virtual tip jar, will rely partly on viewers’ own altruism.

Like most livestreams that have aired in recent weeks, artists will be performing from their homes. UnCancelled will primarily be focused on singer-songwriters because of the difficulties of getting entire bands in the same room during social distancing.

Herstand, along with fellow co-founders Ashley Maietta, who works in publishing for boutique label Crooked Paintings, and Andrew Leib, a manager at Red Light Management, put together the festival in 10 days. The trio were inspired after seeing Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti close down all of the city’s music venues and bars as part of LA’s city-wide shelter-in-place policy.

“We were in a moment of shock,” Herstand says of the mayor’s announcement. “We started researching quickly how we could put on a collective digital music festival to support all these artists who’ve lost so much. Now every day we’re just working together on bringing in more venues and more artists.”

UnCancelled joins an extensive list of livestream events that have aired since the coronavirus pandemic hit the U.S. Chris Martin, John Legend, Shawn Mendes and Camila Cabello were a few of the many who have taken part in Global Citizen’s Together At Home streaming series, and Elton John hosted iHeart Radio’s Living Room Concert For America, which included Dave Grohl, Billie Joe Armstrong and Billie Eilish. That show has raised $10 million for COVID-19 relief, according to iHeart. 

With live music making up a large chunk of income for musicians at large, Maietta said creating more live opportunities is crucial to helping artists and local venues in particular maintain some source of revenue while mass gatherings aren’t an option.

“The music community is one part live and one part streaming,” Maietta says. “As we all know, streaming income isn’t quite lucrative unless you’re in the millions and millions of streams. Our goal is to reintroduce live element back into these musicians’ and venues’ lives to help try and sustain these closures.”