Author Archives: Abner Jacobson

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Even in times of looming uncertainty, music has the power to relieve stress, improve our cognition and help us feel happy. It’s easy to take these benefits for granted, but now more than ever, it’s vital to recognize the people who make it possible: musicians.

Across the country, concerts, tours, and festivals are being postponed or cancelled, leaving many musicians facing a devastating financial reality. On average, live events account for about 70% of an artist’s income — up from about a third in the 1990s — making the current situation especially dire. Just as communities come together to enjoy music, we can also come together to support artists and show how much we value their music. Here are three things you can do from home right now to help!

1. Merch, merch, merch!

With artists receiving an ever-shrinking cut from record sales, merchandise has become a significant part of their income — just one t-shirt sale can provide as much cash as roughly 6,500 Spotify streams, and a single hoodie can be worth more than 50,000 YouTube views. With in-person concerts on hiatus for the foreseeable future, artists are selling apparel, posters and more on places like Bandcamp and Instagram, including lots of exclusives from cancelled tours. Not only will buying merch help your favorite artists survive this crisis — it will also add a dose of cool to your wardrobe!

2. Chip in at virtual concerts

We’ve been beyond inspired to see artists from across the musical spectrum streaming free virtual concerts from their homes or studios. These intimate shows not only entertain us with amazing live music, but also provide us with a sense of community and togetherness that has been especially hard to come by lately. Most of these shows operate on a “pay what you can” basis, so if you can spare any amount of money, we encourage you to chip in, just as you would drop a few dollars in the bucket when you’re enjoying music on a Levitt lawn. We’ll continue to keep you posted about upcoming virtual concerts from Levitt artists and beyond in the coming weeks.

3. Support relief efforts

In addition to providing direct support to individual artists, you can also contribute to relief efforts that support musicians on a broader scale. The Sweet Relief Musicians Fund, Foundation for Contemporary Arts, and the Recording Academy’s MusiCares COVID-19 Relief Fund, are all working on a national level, and similar efforts may be underway at a local scale in your community. Although this assistance will not be immediate, these organizations are working to help musicians at large recover from the COVID-19 crisis. We’ll continue to post information about relief efforts and resources for musicians in need of assistance. 

Even during these uncertain times, together we will persevere by recognizing our common humanity. We can’t wait to once again gather on Levitt lawns and see our favorite musicians doing what they love. In the meantime, let’s support them as best we can!

  • Grantees and Levitt Foundation staff pose for a group photo under the sun.

Last week, nonprofit leaders and arts advocates from 20 communities across the country joined us in Los Angeles for the 2020 Levitt AMP convening. A spirit of togetherness and collaboration permeated the event as this year’s cohort of Levitt AMP grantees explored the vision and values driving the Levitt AMP program through two days of conversations, presentations and interactive activities. Highlights included a powerful workshop on diversity, equity and inclusion led by an expert in the field; a brainstorming session on ways to make the concert series more eco-friendly; multiple panels where grantees shared their ideas and experiences; and a collective songwriting workshop led by GRAMMY-winning musician and activist Quetzal Flores that had everyone in the room unleashing their creativity (and singing voices!). Another impactful season of Levitt AMP concerts will be here soon, and we can’t wait to see how this incredible group of grantees will strengthen the social fabric of their communities through Levitt AMP in 2020!

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“Music’s Biggest Night” unfolded this past Sunday even as a cloud of controversy and grief hung over the Staples Center in Downtown Los Angeles. Performances by artists of all stripes abounded, and by the end of the night, 18-year old pop star Billie Eilish had swept all four of the top-billed categories. Among the class of more than 80 newly minted GRAMMY winners, we’d like to extend a special congratulations to the  artists who have previously performed on a Levitt stage: Gary Clark Jr., Mariachi los Camperos, Sarah Watkins & Sarah Jarosz, Patty Griffin, PJ Morton, and Ranky Tanky!

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The 2020 Oscar nominations are in, and today we’re skipping straight to the music! Since the end of the silent film era, original music has been a staple of the movie-watching experience, and this past year of cinema introduced us to some truly memorable tracks. Read on to learn about each of the contenders for Best Original Song, and pick out your favorite ahead of the big day! Stay tuned for closer looks at some of the other movie-music categories in the near future. 

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2019 EOY staff picks blog headerA new decade is on the horizon, and before it gets here, we’re taking a moment to look back at some of our favorite songs of 2019! Music is close to all of our hearts here at Levitt, and these Staff Picks reflect the diverse array of sounds and artists that helped inspire our work this year. Read on to discover some of our team’s favorite sonic flavors, or jump straight into our Staff Picks playlist on Spotify!
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The 2020 GRAMMY nominations are in, and 17 artists who have performed on Levitt stages in the past are up for awards! There’s a lot to be excited about among this crop of nominees — Tank and the Bangas, who performed at Levitt Pavilion Los Angeles and Levitt AMP Chattanooga in 2017, are competing in the prestigious category of Best New Artist alongside the likes of Lizzo and Billy Eilish, and Gary Clark Jr., who performed at Levitt Shell Memphis in 2011, scored four nominations for his monolithic rock album This Land. Read on for a full list of past Levitt performers in contention for 2020 GRAMMY Awards, and catch the ceremony on January 26, 2020!

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Across the country, exciting collaborations are happening among Levitt venues and AMP grantees with artists, schools and nonprofits that fuse music with learning opportunities for youth. From putting student musicians center stage during Levitt Shell Memphis’ annual Stax Night, to bringing esteemed performers into middle school classrooms through masterclasses at Levitt Pavilion SteelStacks, to a robust “Levitteen” internship program giving young people hands-on experience with concert photography at Levitt AMP Utica, there are myriad ways these partnerships are using the power of music to catalyze learning, inspire possibility and create opportunities for youth. Read on to learn more!

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You know that feeling when October rolls around and your favorite summer songs just don’t feel right anymore? Don’t worry — we’ve got you covered with a new playlist of seasonally-appropriate tunes selected by our staff! From musical horror stories to danceable tracks that will keep your body temperature up even in sweater weather, there’s something for everyone on Levitt’s Fall 2019 playlist. Dive into the music now and read on to learn more about our favorite fall songs!

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The war and treaty spotlight

Today on our Spotlight Series we’re featuring The War and Treaty, a husband/wife duo whose visceral blend of gospel-steeped vocals and classic Americana trappings has been making waves across the country. Tonight, you can catch them performing for free at Levitt Shell Memphis – recently named “Best Place to See Live Music” by the Memphis Flyer!

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