COVID-19 - Surviving Lockdown as a Musician

2020-04-09 Essay


by Alec Plowman

It’s a strange time to be a musician. I mean, given the current world situation, it’s a strange time to be anyone full stop. But, us melodically inclined people – especially those working in a professional capacity – have certainly felt the blow of the uncertainty caused by Covid-19.

All of a sudden, rehearsal room sessions, live performances and studio time are off the cards. If you’re an aspiring songwriter, freelance gun-for-hire or would-be rock star, that’s a massive upheaval.

So what can you do about it? I’m not going to tell you there’s some magic bullet solution – “one weird trick” that’ll transform your music career during this Coronavirus crisis. However, there are some things you can try that might lighten the load during this unprecedented situation.

Write and Record

It’s our stock in trade. But, for most musicians, writing and recording is often neglected.

That’s because the creative process requires our undivided attention. It takes time and focus, and it’s not always easy to devote the energy to this practice.

For many of us in lockdown, however, those day-to-day distractions aren’t such a concern.

If you’ve put off writing new material, now is time to play catch-up. Set a daily timeslot to sit down with your instrument with the goal of crafting some new songs.

Once you’ve got some ideas, start recording them. Set yourself the challenge of producing a new EP or album while practicing social distancing. That way, when this is all over, you’ll at least have something to show for it.

Even if your home studio set up is lacking, use the tools you have at your disposal to get those ideas down. Making demos of your material – however rough – is still a stepping-stone on your musical journey.

Start Streaming

For the foreseeable future, gigging is off the cards. That’s bad news if playing shows is your lifeblood.

Making up that lost revenue is by no-means easy. But, one potential way to lighten the load is through streaming.

More and more, musicians are using platforms like Twitch to live stream content to their fans, as well as capitalizing on these services’ monetization options as an extra source of revenue.

Of course, performing “live” without an audience means thinking outside of the box. And, the demands of the streaming crowd are not necessarily the same as your average live concertgoers.

However, if you can come up with a program of covers, lessons and original material performances that appeals to this demographic, you might be onto a winner.

Just look at Trivium frontman Matt Heafy. In a recent interview with Forbes, he revealed that he makes more money from Twitch than his band when he’s not on tour.

Reach Out

Ironically, given the social distancing measures in place, lockdown is a good time to reach out to your fellow musicians.

Set up a Skype with your would be-collaborators and get the creative juices flowing. Establish a “virtual” lockdown band, trade lyrics, grooves and melodies and record the results.

Bringing a fresh perspective and a fresh pair of ears can revitalize your approach to creating music. Not only that, working with new people is a great way to gain exposure. You’ve got a chance to extend your fan base by engaging with that person’s audience and vice versa.