Can You Perform Shows Safely During COVID-19?

Like it or not, parts of the United States are beginning to reopen, meaning opportunities for live gigs are once again beginning to crop up. As exciting as this may be for artists, it is essential to take the time to ensure such performances are executed in a way which maximizes the safety of all parties involved.

Guest post by Brian Jenkins of Gig Salad

After nearly four months of quarantine, shutdowns, lockdowns, social distancing, and masks, many parts of the United States are beginning to reopen! This means new opportunities for gigs are starting to pick up.

In the excitement and zeal to get back to work, you’ll want to make sure that you and your clients are protected. It’s important that each event is not only in compliance with local guidelines but safe for everyone involved.

Know your local guidelines

Before re-opening your business and returning to your gigs, check on your local and state guidelines for responding to COVID-19. Different cities and counties often mandate different practices, so if you are traveling even a few miles, make sure you are up-to-date with local policies. These often change weekly as the virus spreads or is contained, so stay aware.

If your region is opening in phases, verify which phase your event is in and follow those guidelines. Some clients may not be familiar with local mandates and will need your help. Your state’s Department of Health website will have regular updates to keep you informed.

Consider your clients’ comfort level when booking new gigs. Regardless of lighter restrictions in some regions, the event planner may not be comfortable with them. Use your outstanding customer service skills and work to make their event a success, even if it means a little extra precaution on your part.

While different regions are re-opening at various paces, the CDC (Center for Disease Control) still encourages basic habits and practices to keep everyone safe.

Allow for social distancing

Until March of 2020, most of us weren’t familiar with the concept of social distancing. Now, we’re all experts. This simple, yet highly-effective, practice can prevent the spread of viruses and keep everyone healthy. Social distancing works most effectively when event-goers maintain a distance of 6 feet (or the width of an average-sized car) or more.

In the discussion and negotiation process before the gig, be clear with your event planner or client about how social distancing will be maintained. This is critical to avoid any confusion or awkwardness at the event.

Depending on your service, social distancing could create issues. Musicians performing at parties or venues need to make sure they have ample space. Other services, such as face painters or make-up artists have tougher obstacles. We’ll cover those as we go forward.

Develop sanitizing protocols

The CDC encourages a few basic tips for hygiene and sanitation, specifically washing your hands and disinfecting surfaces. Hopefully, we all learned to wash our hands in grade school, but take a few extra seconds, use soap and warm water, and sing the Jeopardy theme or the chorus to Dolly Parton’s “Jolene” to keep clean.

For musicians, DJs, and anyone using sound equipment or other touchable surfaces, keep disinfectant wipes on hand. At every break, take a second to wipe everything down, including microphones or keyboards.

Service providers or performers whose service requires close contact and proximity should make a quality mask and gloves non-negotiable. For example, face painters, makeup and hair artists, henna artists, balloon twisters, bartenders, caterers, waitstaff, and others need these extra protections.

This article from Jestpaint gives some great practical tips on protecting yourself, including:

  • Wear a mask and/or face shield to prevent transmission.
  • Insist that anyone receiving your service be symptom-free, including fever or coughs. (You can even require a waiver for anyone you come into contact with.)
  • Change your gloves after each client.
  • Don’t use a line, but rather a number system so party-goers don’t stand clustered in one area.
  • Keep your equipment away from others and clean and disinfect regularly.
  • Sanitize everything after the event. Here’s a list of EPA-approved disinfectants.

Have a clear policy on masks

Mask usage has become a bit of a cultural flashpoint, but don’t be afraid to take steps to protect you and your business. If you are laxer in your view of masks, make a commitment to honor the wishes and requests of your client. The most important thing is to make sure you and the event host are on the same page about mask expectations for you and those in attendance.

Many states now require mask usage due to new peaks in the virus cases. Make sure to clarify what your region requires and encourages.

Pro tip: Cloth masks are a cheap way to sell some merch! Branded masks are more fun than plain masks often found in stores. Sites like Swag.com can get your brand onto masks for your fans to wear!

Consider digital tips

Let’s be honest, paper money is filthy. Cut back on the extra chance of germs by choosing plastic over paper. Or consider touchless tips by using digital options instead.

Apps like VenmoCash App, and PayPal offer you the means to receive tips at the event without the old tip jar. Put a card out with your “Cashtag” or Venmo handle and invite people to show their appreciation digitally. As always, make sure your client knows you’ll be soliciting tips beyond their cost for your services.


We’re all ready to get back to work and figure out what the next round of normal looks like. Let’s work together to stay safe and healthy and move beyond this pandemic. Taking time to establish safe habits and healthy practices will get us there sooner. 

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