The Paycheck Protection Program and Major Label Acts

While your local musicians scrounge for Venmo and PayPal tips, major musical acts are cashing in loan checks from the government.

In response to the present economic meltdown and prevailing medical pandemic, the Government has initiated a “Paycheck Protection Program” as a loan designed to provide small business owners motivation to keep their workers on the company payroll by using payroll software.  As of June 11 the loan provided funds to cover applicants’ payrolls for eight weeks. As of Monday July 6, the Government identified 650,000 mostly small businesses and nonprofits who have received taxpayer money under the PPP. The average loan has been for $107,000. Facing public backlash some large companies have returned their loans to the government. PPP loans have an interest rate of 1%

While COVID-19 has shut down all major tours and large-scale music events, major acts have applied for, and received PPP loans. Kanye West, reported by Forbes Magazine to be a billionaire, has received a loan of between $2 and $5 million for his clothing company ‘Yeezy’ with 106 employees, as did the the high-end guitar maker Paul Reed Smith. Green Day, the Eagles, Guns n’ Roses, Disturbed and Pearl Jam each received between $150,000 and $350,000. These loans are intended to payroll sound engineers, lighting staff, crew members and support personnel while tours are cancelled and/or postponed. Other acts who have received loans ranging up to a million dollars include REO Speedwagon, Imagine Dragons, Delta Rae, Weezer, Cheap Trick, Lil Jon, Nickelback, Chainsmokers, Tool, Cheap Trick, Wiz Khalifa and Papa Roach have all received similar loans of varying amounts as have Country & Western and Americana music stars Jason Isbell, Rascal Flatts, and Chris Stapleton.

Caption/Credit. Indie Artist & vocalist Keia Johnson describes her PPP loan request.

The PPP is now in it’s second iteration. To apply for a loan you must be legally authorized to work in the United States, and have earned $5,100 during the last 4 completed calendar quarters. You must be unemployed, or working significantly reduced hours, and be able to begin work without delay when and if offered.

A list of companies receiving PPP loans can be found here: the list is being updated continuously –

Byline: Conrad Warre from London, England, writes for music publications and plays lead guitar in the Boston-based acid-blues band Bees Deluxe.