When Alan Doyle finished his March 8 performance in Vancouver, British Columbia, he thought he’d be continuing his Rough Side Out tour in two weeks’ time. Instead, the necessary self-isolation forced by the Covid-19 pandemic has put an indefinite pause on what was to have been the most extensive tour of his career.
Doyle, one of Canada’s most popular musicians as well as a best-selling author and actor, says he and his Beautiful Beautiful Band were scheduled to start the lucrative central Canada leg of their road trip on March 25. But that’s gone now – and he doesn’t know when it’s coming back.
Live performances are crucial to a musician’s livelihood says Doyle. “When I started in this business back in the ‘90s, it was about half of your revenue stream. Now, it’s 100 per cent — it drives the sale of other stuff like CDs and t-shirts.”
Audiences with tickets to canceled shows can request their money back. Or, suggests Doyle, they can show their support for artists by holding onto those tickets until the shows can be rescheduled. “If you find you can’t use it yourself, you might want to consider gifting it to someone. I know it is a big ask, during these difficult times, but it would mean a lot to artists like me and all the people on my team.”
Doyle says every touring band in the world is anxiously awaiting the “green light” for when they can go back on the road. “It’s going to be a dog fight,” he says about the competition to book performance space. Friday and Saturday night bookings at popular venues like the Rebecca Cohn Auditorium in Halifax, N.S. are going to be “almost impossible to get for the next four years,” predicts Doyle.
In the meantime, he and other performers are finding other ways to reach audiences. Doyle has been performing a number of Facebook Live mini concerts to raise money for his charitable initiatives, like the Dollar-A-Day foundation for mental health. Others are using platforms like Side Door Access to sell virtual tickets to private events. (Click here for a profile of Side Door published by Atlantic Business Magazine in September 2019).
Those at-home performances can be a challenge, however, as the performer is not just the musician but also the broadcaster and the entertainer. “We make hay whatever way we can,” says Doyle.