As the world’s typical modus operandi began to crumble around us in March, two of the most noticeable aspects of the change in pop culture was the almost immediate halting of sports and concerts. Pro sports have begun an altered restart, with varying levels of success, but the NBA, NHL, and MLB are as much a product for TV as they are for live audiences.
For live music, though, the volume is still turned to zero. (Unless you count that gong-show Chainsmokers concert, which of course . . . no.)
Not only is this stoppage hurting musicians, but the entire production ecosystem around their live shows. By mid-March, Live Nation announced a $10 million relief fund, for concert crews and touring staff impacted most by the pandemic, called Crew Nation. The company made an initial $5 million donation and committed to match the next $5 million given by artists, fans, and employees.
Now outdoor brand Yeti is jumping on board with a new campaign to bring together both artists and fans to raise more money for the fund.
Yeti has sent out its brand new Roadie 24 Hard Cooler to about 40 bands and musicians, asking them to personalize it for it to be auctioned off between August 4 and August 10 as part of Yeti’s “One for the Roadies” campaign, with the proceeds going to Crew Nation.
Yeti’s VP of consumer marketing Bill Neff says the impact on live music has hit the brand on a personal level. Not just because it’s based in Austin, Texas, and many of its retail stores feature live music stages for events, or that it routinely taps artists for branded content, like Ryan Bingham’s three-part video series The Midnight Hour. Neff says that one of the primary catalysts was a personal friend of the company who previously served as a front-of-house engineer for several world-famous bands and been hit particularly hard by COVID-19. “Over the past few months, he’s been forced to drain his 401k and find part-time employment opportunities to pay his bills,” says Neff. “His story, and many other similar stories, helped inspire this campaign. Many live music road crews no longer have health insurance and do not qualify for unemployment or government subsidies. They need support now more than ever as a result of COVID-19.”
Auction prices range from $200 up to $700, to start. The artists and bands took a varying level of artistic commitment to decorating their coolers. Some, such as Leon Bridges, went minimalist with an autograph. Others, like The National, also stocked the coolers with a cornucopia of merch and records. Then there’s those like the Avett Brothers, Portugal the Man, and photographer Danny Clinch, who turned them into full-on doodle art projects.
Between both Yeti and Live Nation, they were able to get it all organized quickly. “We leveraged our relationships in the industry, and with the support of the team at Live Nation, we were able to get the word out around the auction,” says Neff. “The response from bands and musicians wanting to help was incredible.”