SOS Fest supports struggling independent music venues

Artists like Reba McEntire, Brittany Howard and Kelsea Ballerini are throwing support behind the effort
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Posted at 2:35 AM, Oct 16, 2020

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Live music is the heart and soul of Nashville.

The pandemic has been tough on our small, independent music venues and thousands more across the country. That's why dozens of big-name artists are getting together this weekend to help.

SOS Fest kicks off Friday, October 16. SOS stands for Save Our Stages, an effort by the National Independent Venue Association (NIVA) to help struggling venues across the country.

The group was formed after the pandemic, when owners saw just how much they'd have to overcome to survive the pandemic.

"Our whole industry is facing an existential crisis. It's not just the venues, it's the artists, managers, agents, everyone employed," said Chris Cobb, the owner of Exit/In on Nashville's historic Rock Block.

So this weekend, big names like Reba McEntire, Brittany Howard, the Foo Fighters, Miley Cyrus, and many more will come together to perform in the online music festival that will raise money to support more than 3,000 venues that are now a part of NIVA.

"Streaming has certainly brought about lots of opportunities that we didn't have before," Cobb said. "We want nothing more than to get back to hosting concerts in person, that's what we do and that's what makes our business work and that's what the fans and the artists need... but it's pretty cool to have Little Big Town and Kelsea Ballerini on stage at EXIT/IN and that wouldn't typically happen."

People can make donations online all weekend long at

In Nashville, venues like The Ryman, Mercy Lounge, and Exit/In are hosting performers for the festival.

"It means so much for the artists to be willing to give their time to our stages to support independent music venues through this crisis," Cobb said.