The global pandemic known as Covid-19 (or CoronaVirus) has impacted nearly every person on the planet. Beyond the health implications of the virus, our global economy is facing unprecedented stress. Because of the lockdowns and social distancing rules, industries that rely on live, human-to-human interaction are impacted most.
This, of course, includes musicians. You may be feeling dismayed by the number of concerts, tours, and live gigs being cancelled worldwide. And while there’s no doubt that these will most likely impact your bottom line, all hope is not lost.
Live performers are already coming up with creative ways to recoup some of the financial losses they are facing. And while there is no substitute for hearing the roar of applause from a live audience, there are things you can do to keep your creative spark alive.
If you’re wondering what you should do as a musician during these challenging times, we’ve got a guide for you.
First, don’t panic
This may seem easier said than done, but it’s important to try and keep your cool, despite the fact that we are facing an unknown moment in human history. Panicking at this moment will cause you to freeze up, which is not going to be helpful for your career or mental health.
It’s natural to feel some anxiety at this time, but you also want to make sure you are taking care of yourself and focusing on what you can do in the immediate future to supplement your income and keep your musical growth on the right track.
While the Covid-19 epidemic has put a lot of things on hold, remember that the current situation of massive lockdowns isn’t permanent. Life may not be the same as it was before, but we will return to a more normal routine at some point. Until that happens, the best you can do is make a plan to get yourself through the next few weeks. And that’s what we’ve outlined here.
Gather your resources and get informed
Even though we’re still in the early stages of the pandemic fallout, people are already pulling together in ways we’ve never seen before. Artists of all sorts are finding ways to connect and share information with each other to help navigate this tricky time.
Though we’ve got lots of tips and advice for you throughout this article, there are some more exhaustive resources that you should keep on hand.
You can also look into this general list of resources for freelancers during Covid-19.
Social media is another great place to find other artists who are taking matters into their own hands during the pandemic. Check out the #TogetherAtHome hashtag on Twitter and Instagram for starters.
If you’re looking for some financial relief, there are a few organisations who have created funds specifically to help musicians and other creatives at this time. Check out these resources:
Now is the time to connect with your fans
If there’s one clear silver lining for musicians in our current times, it’s this: lots of people around the world are spending time at home, and they are looking for things to keep them busy and calm. This means there are plenty of people who are on for good music to listen to while they self-isolate.
Take stock of what communication channels you already have in place for your audience. If you’re already active on social media, or if you have a website and mailing list, compose a few posts/mail outs to reach out to your fans and followers.
This message should be reassuring, and remind them that you’re still here making music to help keep them entertained. Be sure you give them direct links to where they can follow you on platforms like Soundcloud and Spotify.
If you don’t have these communication channels set up, now is the time to get started. If you’re isolating yourself, use some of the spare time to refresh your Instagram, finally put your website live, or start engaging with your followers more directly.
Remember that people are using music streaming platforms more now than ever. If you haven’t already, check out our guides to getting listed on some of the big players:
- How to list your music on Spotify
- How to list your music on Apple Music
- How to list your music on Soundcloud
Use this time to grow your skills
Here’s another silver lining to this whole situation: most people will have a lot more free time on their hands, since they are no longer participating in as many social activities and may not be working their full schedule.
It’s important to use this time to stay connected to family and friends (even if it is through digital means). But you can also use some of the free time to pick up new skills and create new music.
Many artists already record music from home, and we’ve put together a guide on how to set up a DIY recording studio of your own. Even with just a microphone and some basic recording software, you can start recording music without breaking any of the social-distancing guidelines.
If you’ve been meaning to improve your keyboard skills, learn that new song on the guitar, or try your hand at composing a new song, now’s the time. Letting your creative juices flow isn’t just a good way to create something new for your audience—it’s also an excellent way to reduce stress and anxiety.
A quick guide to live-streaming for musicians
Live-streaming is nothing new to the music world, but due to the pandemic, we’re seeing an uptick in the number of artists who are streaming their music digitally to fans.
If you’ve never live-streamed before, it may feel a little intimidating. But fear not—once you get the hang of it, you’ll find it’s a relatively simple and fun way to bring music to your audience.
Here’s a quick guide to get you started:
1. Practice makes perfect
Just as you would with any live gig, it’s important to practice your set before you hit the “start streaming” button. Take some time to practice the songs you want to perform. Use your iphone or computer to record them—this will help give you an idea of what you will sound like to fans who are streaming from their mobile devices or laptops.
2. Set the right backdrop
Unless you’re only streaming the audio of your music, your audience will be watching you live. This means you want to create a pleasant aesthetic for them, even if you’re simply performing from your living room. Take a moment to clean up any clutter, and be sure you have good lighting in place so your fans can see you easily. Once again, you can film yourself on your phone to get an idea of what your audience will see.
3. Choosing the right platform
There are many choices when it comes to the platform you’ll use to stream your music. Some of the easiest to get started on are your basic social media platforms: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube all have live streaming options that don’t cost a cent.
If you want to take it a step further, you can look into using free conferencing software, like Zoom or Google Hangouts. The benefit here is you can send calendar invites to your fans, so they’ll be able to simply click a link and tune in when you decide to go live.
If you have a larger following, then you may be able to leverage some of the “pay to view” streaming platforms out there, like Twitch and Crowdcast. These platforms allow users with enough followers to monetise their streams. (We have more tips to monetise your streams below if you’re not ready for these platforms yet.)
4. Promote, promote, promote!
Live streaming is about connecting with an audience, which means you need to make sure people know when and where you’ll be performing.
Before you begin live streaming, make sure you use the communication channels we mentioned above to let your fans know what you’re planning. Make posts on Instagram and Facebook, send out an email mailer, and link to your streams on your website for maximum exposure.
Don’t forget to save a recording of the live stream once you’re done. This way, people who can’t join you live can still enjoy your music later on.
If you plan on doing this regularly, you can set up a recurring event. For example, you may want to do a “morning music session” every weekday at 9am, or a “happy hour concert” series during the evening hours.
5. Go live! And make the most of it
Once you’ve practiced the songs you want to play, set up your live streaming platform of choice, and alerted your fans, there’s not much else to do besides go live! Feeling nervous the first time you stream is natural, but as a musician, stage jitters shouldn’t be anything new. Put on a brave face, and don’t worry if you don’t have a huge audience the first time. Over time, if you continue to promote yourself, the fans will come to you.
While you’re streaming, you want to do more than just play music. After a few songs, be sure to pause and look at the comments/suggestions you’re getting from live viewers. Answer their comments, and don’t forget to ask them some questions like, “Any song requests?” or “What are you doing while listening to my music?” Anything you can do to generate conversation will make for a better experience for your fans.
6. How to monetise your live streams
Though many people are feeling anxiety about their financial situation at this time, there are also lots of folks who are looking for ways to support the artists they love.
While it’s unlikely you will earn as much money as you would on tour or during a paid gig, you can still use your live streaming as a way to bring in extra income.
Before you start live streaming, set up a GoFundMe account, or give your audience a way to pay you through PayPal or Venmo. You can also put recordings of your music on a Patreon account, if you set one of those up. There’s no harm in asking for donations—after all, you are spending time and effort to bring music to people in need. If you sell merchandise, remind your fans that they can support you by picking out some new items from your online store.
Make it easy for your fans to find the best way to pay you. Put links to your accounts/funds on your social profiles and website, and mention them at least once or twice during the stream.
Above all else, take care of yourself
Hopefully you’re feeling a little more confident about your ability to navigate the new times we’re living in. Remember that it’s ok to feel scared and anxious right now.
Though it’s important to respect the rules around social-distancing and isolation, you don’t have to do this alone. Connecting with fans and other musicians is a great way to feel less isolated.
Take time to care for yourself. Music is a great way to do this, but you can also improve your mental health by calling/video chatting with loved ones, doing at-home workouts, cooking healthy meals, and doing whatever makes you feel happy and safe.
Whabby Music is here to help. If you’re worried about your music career, or want more advice, we’d love to hear from you. Send us a message via our website, and we’ll get back to you.