Many in Nashville's entertainment industry hope for unemployment benefits

Posted at 6:01 PM, Mar 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-27 19:38:19-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Melodies have been replaced by melancholy in America's Music City. Empty Honky Tonks almost look haunted. Bridgestone Arena, with Nashville Predators banners still hanging high, is almost frozen in time.

"I’ve never had this happen," said Michael Welsh.

It's a change of pace, Welsh isn't used to as a freelance camera operator.

"My calendar was pretty full for the next three months and now it’s wiped," said Welsh.

Usually he's jet-setting across the country with a camera on his shoulders. Now, he finds himself refreshing his laptop, hoping for enough money to keep collection agencies at bay.

"It starts going fast when the bills are getting paid but you’re not bringing in any money," Welsh said.

So now he's applied for unemployment online through the state of Tennessee.

"I did it a little over a week ago maybe and I still haven’t gotten any confirmation that it’s been approved," Welsh said.

Welsh says the website has crashed on him a few times, and NewsChannel 5 has received several reports of high call volumes into the Tennessee Department of Labor. Chris Cannon, a spokesperson for the Tennessee Department of Labor, confirms they have closed the lobbies to American Job Centers across the state because of the coronavirus, but assures us their staff is still hard at work to process unemployment claims.

That reality has been frustrating for Welsh.

"I’m that kind of guy. I know we live in a generation with technology and everything but I always like to go in person. If not, I like to call," said Welsh.

While he may be singing the blues while he's out of work, Welsh takes solace in the fact, he's not a solo act.

"I don’t feel like I’m alone. This isn’t just happening to me. It doesn’t make the bills go away but it is nice to be able to talk to someone and say hey, we are in the same boat here," he said.