- Verizon is sponsoring weekly livestreamed concerts to help support small businesses suffering financial hardship during the coronavirus pandemic. The "Pay It Forward" benefit concerts started last night with a live performance from singer Dave Mathews, per an announcement.
- Verizon is livestreaming the concerts from its Twitter account, Yahoo Entertainment website and channel 501 on its FiOS fiberoptic cable service. The telecom company will announce more artists and partners later, per its announcement.
- Verizon also will donate $2.5 million to Local Initiatives Support Corp. (LISC), a national nonprofit that created a small business COVID-19 recovery fund to make grants of as much $10,000 to businesses, especially entrepreneurs of color, women-owned businesses and other companies in historically under-served places that don't have access to flexible, affordable capital.
Verizon's livestreamed benefit concerts are notable for their reliance on telecommunications networks to reach audiences on their mobile devices and other electronic media platforms as people stay at home during the coronavirus pandemic. It also shows one way that brands can invest their marketing budgets to get in front of consumers who are staying home by sponsoring entertaining streaming content. Streaming music was already a popular marketing platform for marketers before the coronavirus pandemic hit and Verizon's Pay It Forward series gives the brand a way to build on that while creating what could feel like an intimate and authentic experience for viewers as musicians will be performing the concerts in their living rooms.
While past benefit concerts like Live Aid and Farm Aid brought together thousands of people in crowded stadiums, the pandemic has curtailed a variety of live events including the Summer Olympics, SXSW and Coachella, along with most sports games and tournaments. Until the pandemic subsides, people will be more reliant on electronic media as a main source of entertainment.
Verizon's concert series also is a significant demonstration of how companies are responding to the pandemic that not only threatens public health, but also has been devastating for smaller businesses with less access to credit. While major corporations can draw down credit lines from banks, many small businesses are faced with insolvency as health officials urge people to say home and public authorities order the closure of stores, barbers, nail salons and other "non-essential" businesses. The federal government also is likely to approve a stimulus package that will provide some funding to help small businesses to survive the pandemic.
Verizon is among the major companies that are harnessing their resources to help people during the pandemic.
Hotel chain Hilton this month gave furloughed employees access to an online resource center that helps to expedite hiring at other companies that are seeing a surge in demand for home delivery and store re-stocking jobs, such as Amazon, CVS, Lidl, Albertsons, Plastics Industry Association and Sunrise Senior Living, USA Today reported. Corporate watchdog group Just Capital publishes an updated list of major companies that are responding to the pandemic with support for their employees and customers.