Being a musician during COVID-19
How the industry has changed, and how my entire path has had to shift
Alright, we all know what's going on right now. It's intense, and it isn't that good. The COVID-19 pandemic has affected people globally since December of 2019 and although there have been waves, there is no sign of the virus stopping anytime soon.
As Canada went into officially lockdown in March of 2020, every single industry was forced to take a fat left turn. Restaurants were closing to the public, local shops were closing for good, and Canada is experiencing something different (okay, the entire world is but you get my point). Although every single industry is changing, the one that we work in is the one where we see the most change.
While being an active worker in the music industry for around 10 years I have experienced almost every single form of work in the music industry, from songwriting, composing for film, arranging, beat making, studio/session work, live performance and touring, along many more jobs. This pandemic has shifted the industry so drastically that musicians such as myself cannot work in the same way we used to. We are unable to perform live, go to studios and record, collaborate like we used to, and on top of all that....this thing is god damn exhausting. So...how do musicians do it now? What is it like being a musician during COVID?
Let me tell you something straight up. Musicians are a little slow when it comes to...catching up with the technological world. People still want to get together with their band, play in a jam space, then do shows, tour, get signed and live the 80s dream. This reality DOES NOT EXIST ANYMORE. COVID-19 allowed musicians to come to terms with the technological age (in my opinion), and it allowed us to consider options that we not apparent to us at the time. Consider the great, life-saving software we all know as Zoom. It was never truly apparent that musicians could do their work over Zoom, although people in business, commerce, and (digital) marketing have been working with video chat/calls for what seems like a lifetime.
My personal experience with this is that I am now able to start working on the small musical projects that were not as easily possible before. One of the joys of being an independent musician today is that I can pick and choose my projects as I see fit. I also get to choose the avenues to which I market and showcase my music. Being a musician during COVID has brought me into the world of streaming, and I’ve started my Twitch channel specifically because I wanted to connect with my fans and perform music for people, but I wanted to do it safely.
There are a lot of avenues people can pursue, and just because we aren’t able to physically get together doesn’t mean our musical careers are over. It is time for musicians to catch up, and to bring themselves into the modern era.
Another way for musicians to bring their live show to their fans is by hosting events that are pre-recorded videos! A band that I follow called TesseracT did this with their latest live show titled "Portals". Although the portal is now closed, the live cinematic experience was recorded, advertised just like a "regular" show, and then was online for a limited amount of time. This gives their fans the experience of seeing a high-quality performance from their favourite band, all while being safe at home. While not the average show experience from a band such as TesseracT, the concept is a beautiful way to keep the connection between artists and fans strong.
I hope that the COVID-19 pandemic brings musicians into the modern technological era, and I hope that it brings new avenues into the spotlight for musicians and independent creators to connect with their fans in a new, modern way. The past is behind us and all we can prepare for is the future. Musicians are an integral part of society, we just need to bring ourselves up to speed.
Stay safe, stay home, wear a mask and tell your loved ones you love them.