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How Musicians Can Advance Their Careers Despite COVID-19

The Coronavirus, otherwise known as “COVID-19”, has swept across the globe, infecting more than 700,000 people according to Worldometer, as of March 29, 2020. What started as a simple media scare has quickly evolved into a pandemic. Quarantines, business shutdowns, and lockdowns in entire countries are the new norm. Billions of people are told to […]

The Coronavirus, otherwise known as “COVID-19”, has swept across the globe, infecting more than 700,000 people according to Worldometer, as of March 29, 2020. What started as a simple media scare has quickly evolved into a pandemic. Quarantines, business shutdowns, and lockdowns in entire countries are the new norm.

Billions of people are told to stay home at all costs to slow the spread of the virus. For many people, this means working from home for the first time. For those who already work remotely, they don’t have to change much about their work routine, other than make room for their family members becoming their new home office co-workers.

While millions of Americans are still able to work despite social isolation, what about those who depend on social gatherings to make a living, like musicians? According to a recent poll by the UK’s Musician’s Union, UK musicians have lost an estimated 13.9 million euros in earnings, or just over $15 million US dollars due to the coronavirus.

Estimates on when the virus will stop spreading range from a few weeks to a few months. This means musicians could be stranded at home without a way to pay the bills.

So what should you do as a musician?

Well, while most people look at the situation as bleak, some artists are branching out, and using their creativity to evolve as musicians.

In this article, we’ll dive into 3 ways musicians can not only survive, but thrive during this challenging time.

Move Your Live Show to Facebook Live

Photo of Hunter Hayes by Andrew Pollitt

Normally, the majority of musicians would be heading out to bars, restaurants, and concert venues to perform during the weeks or months. But, that all changed when COVID-19 started spreading rapidly across the world. Lockdowns and quarantines halted most restaurants and bars from opening.

Government-imposed social restrictions were put in place. First, businesses were limited to 200 people. Then 50. Then 10. Some countries, like the UK, even have gathering limits of 2 people according to PBS.

While most musicians are panicking about how they’ll make up for canceled shows, others aren’t canceling – they’re just moving their venue to Facebook, Instagram, YouTube or Twitch.

Rather than canceling or postponing shows, musicians can still offer their fans a live show from the comfort of their home.

Even famous musicians like Chris Martin of Coldplay, Hunter Hayes, Keith Urban, and Backstreet Boys have already performed or are scheduled to perform online performances as most concerts have been canceled.

James Naleski, a musician and social media marketer who’s trained under songwriter Azara and interned under Grammy-award winner Will Champlin, believes this is the perfect opportunity for musicians to branch out and expand their following.

When asked about the current situation musicians are coming face to face with, Naleski responded, “Now more than ever, it is important for people, especially artists and musicians to stay connected while we are all quarantined. Various musicians are doing an exceptional job of using their platforms and live videos to relate to their fans. In particular, Hunter Hayes has begun streaming-live high-quality concerts on YouTube to help people stay united.”

For most local musicians, the shift from offline to online shows hasn’t been easy, especially when it comes to payment, but artists are figuring it out.

Musicians have begun taking payment as an “entrance fee” or a tip when a fan begins viewing the live show on Facebook. Others are performing their set and will take song requests after the set for a fee of $5 or $10 per song. Payment can be tricky, but modern online banking has made it easy to receive e-transfers from just about anyone in your country by simply providing your email address.

Teach Online Lessons

Other musicians, who once made their living from touring solo or with their band, are turning to music lessons.

While many artists have given lessons before in person, most have never given an online lesson. Since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak, Zoom, a video calling app, has been downloaded 50 million times on the Google Play Store alone according to BBC.

It’s never been easier for musicians to get on a Skype, FaceTime, or Zoom call to teach a virtual lesson to students. The tools and tech available nowadays for online lessons can be easily integrated with the various platforms to be able to teach students as if you were right there with them in person.

As far as marketing the lessons, many musicians are beginning to put free lessons on Facebook, Instagram, and especially YouTube as a way to build up a list of clients. Social media marketing is something many musicians are already quite familiar with, but many have never marketed themselves as music teachers before.

As the gig economy continues to grow, freelancer sites are making it easier than ever for independent creatives to make a living online.

Private education platforms like Udemy and Coursera make it easy for musicians to create full courses, reaching millions of people. Students can go on the platforms to pick and choose what courses they want to take, reading reviews left by other students and with one click, the course is purchased and the money is transferred to the teacher’s account.

Produce 10X Content

For most people stuck at home during this time, it’s been the perfect time to finally get back into home studios and produce.

Naleski mentions, “This also creates a sense of community during these difficult times. It’s also crucial to explore and create art. Draw inspiration from the outside space available to you and your friends. This is a historical time and it gives us all an opportunity to try something new. I strongly recommend taking this time to appreciate those around you, build relationships and create new projects. Don’t let this opportunity pass you by.”

While many people are panicking about how they’ll survive off their limited savings over the next few weeks, others are looking at the glass as half full. For many people, this is the perfect opportunity to take a step back from this fast-paced world and create.

Some of the greatest artists wrote masterpieces while in isolation. When The Beatles were coming to an end, Paul McCartney hid himself in his St John’s Wood house in London, where he wrote and recorded his solo album, McCartney, by himself. It was in this period of isolation that he wrote one of his greatest songs of all time, “Maybe I’m Amazed” as a tribute to his wife Linda at the time. Bon Iver wrote his debut album, For Emma, Forever Ago while alone in a cabin. Prince wrote Dirty Mind, Stevie Wonder wrote Innervisions, and Steve Winwood wrote Arc of a Diver in isolation.

An Opportunity to Evolve

While many creatives are concerned with where their next paycheck is going to come from, others are beginning to take advantage of the forced isolation of COVID-19. By transforming your live shows into Facebook live shows, offering music lessons, and stepping back into the studio for intentional, dedicated production time, you can come out ahead of this virus better than you entered. 

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