Lincoln Strong Streaming Festival courtesy photo

The music scene looks a little different with COVID-19 keeping fans at home. Concert venues have been forced to postpone or cancel many upcoming shows and events. In an effort to keep the music going, live concerts in Lincoln are going online with Lincoln Strong, a weekly live-streamed music festival formed to benefit local musicians, restaurants and venues whose livelihoods have been uprooted by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Charlie Schilling, director of booking at Pinnacle Bank Arena, wanted to use the marketing assets of the arena to support local musicians and the social distancing community through an online concert. 

“We are linking the livestream to our social channels, cross-promoting Lincoln Strong through platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram,” Schilling said. “We also are sending weekly email reminders to our expansive database to invite previous fans of live music.”

The live streamed concert begins with the booked band for the week performing on the group’s Facebook Live page, which is then shared by the Lincoln Strong Facebook page. In sharing the livestream, Lincoln Strong also includes a Venmo link where viewers can donate to the artist. The artist is encouraged by Lincoln Strong organizers to give a shout out to their favorite local business.

Lincoln Strong came to be after Schilling reached out to Jack Rodenburg, who has many connections to the Lincoln music scene. Rodenburg's involvement in many local bands, including The Wildwoods and A Ferocious Jungle Cat, led him to be the organizer of Lincoln Strong, which means he books the bands on the show each week. The broadcast has been live for two weeks but, according to Rodenburg, it’s already garnered a large amount of online attention and support.

“We have over 800 likes on Facebook, which is more than my personal artist page,” Rodenburg said. “We have a Lincoln Strong fund that matches the donations from the general public, and we’ve already been able to match the first $100 in tips.”

Though this project was formed in direct response to the coronavirus, Rodenburg plans to continue running Lincoln Strong even after concerts and shows start reoccurring.

“I definitely think this is something that goes on after [the coronavirus]” Rodenburg said. “I like the community aspect of it, how it’s not just music, but also venues and restaurants. I like how it’s a weekly thing that you can turn on that’s spread out so that you don’t get burned out.”

According to Rodenburg, the best things that have come from Lincoln Strong are the positive reactions from viewers and the community that’s been built among local artists who share a common goal of promoting their music in times when it’s more difficult to do so.

“It’s been beautiful to watch people connect with each other,” Rodenburg said. “It's been fun to see my musician friends expand their bases and get publicity.”

Rodenburg said that the organization has been able to gain publicity through Leirion Gaylor Baird, Lincoln’s mayor, who gives Lincoln Strong a shoutout each week during her daily COVID-19 update.

With a calendar full of canceled concerts and events at the Pinnacle Bank Arena, Schilling said that Lincoln Strong’s successful start has been beneficial for fans and local artists to hear and perform live music.

“In a time when programming has shifted further into the calendar year, we’ve been able to stay active with our audiences and give them something to look forward to,” Schilling said.