SAN ANTONIO – Live music came to a grinding halt when the coronavirus pandemic began to take charge across the U.S., but Robert Earl Keen didn’t sit back and watch his team go unsupported.
The Texas country music legend told Forbes that he refinanced his home as well as applied for a government crisis loan and a PPP loan to keep his employees on the payroll until at least the summer.
All 10 employees’ salaries had to be reduced by 25%, but they were able to keep their insurance as the health crisis worsened, the business magazine reported Monday.
“I had made my decision to double down on riding out the storm,” he told Forbes. “All 10 employees were on salary with health insurance and a SEP IRA retirement plan. These features had been in place for more than 20 years.”
He called his employees to tell them of their situation and stayed in constant contact with them throughout the year.
He said the close communication helped keep “everyone’s peace of mind” — a valuable lesson he said he learned during the crisis.
“Every aspect of my effort has been to keep everyone working,” he said. “The mental anguish associated with the unforeseeable future vanished the day I committed to keeping the lights on.”
What also helped, he said, is his fiscal responsibility and lack of debt he’s been able to keep. He added that he hasn’t had a car payment since 1996, and he pays off credit cards monthly.
With the reopening of Texas and a decrease in COVID-19 cases, Keen and his band have since started to tour again.
The band will head to Whitewater Amphitheater in New Braunfels on May 8.