Musicians: don’t lose hope, make ‘the new normal’ work for you
It seemed at first like it might only last a couple of weeks in spring.
But then it started to eat up gigs and small festivals.
Then it took out Glastonbury itself.
By that point, it was clear that no musical event stood a chance; Coronavirus has taken away most of our live performances for the foreseeable future.
For audiences, it’s been a real blow, but if you’re a professional musician, COVID has also taken away your income and way of life
So how can you adjust to ‘the new normal’, keep making money, and keep your spirits up while you ride this wave? Here are some practical tips to help you through until your gig schedule starts to fill up again.
Find different sorts of gigs
Working as a musician is a difficult thing to do, and it involves a whole load of skills that are marketable in the business world too.
You might not have realised you’ve got an above-average competency in online marketing, audio-visual content production, social media management, or logistics, but to the corporate world, you’re as good as an expert.
Each of these skills has a value of its own, and anyone of these could be your new (temporary) way to make a living. Take stock of the things you do well, and start to sell yourself as a freelancer for hire in each of those areas.
For example, a lot of small businesses might want ‘website builder’ you to build a website, they might want ‘social media marketer’ you to manage their social media accounts, and they might want ‘professional long-distance driver’ you to do some delivery work. If you’ve done any of these tasks as a musician, start thinking of yourself as an expert in it.
As well as looking around at business in your local area, websites like People Per Hour, Freelancer.com and Fiverr are full of potential one-off jobs, so with a decent portfolio and a few client reviews under your belt, you can start to pick up work.
Join some new platforms – and maybe get a coffee or two
Whatever your level of fame, there’s never been a better time to get onto some new live-streaming platforms. It’s a form of entertainment that won’t replace live gigs, but it’s not going away anytime soon either.
Livestreamed gigs are not going to be a big moneymaker for most musicians, it’s true, but there’s still some benefit to getting comfortable with Twitch, Facebook live, Instagram live etc. If you’ve never done it before, you may find the idea of going live online to be daunting, but it’s only scary until you’re used to it.
By regularly jumping onto a Livestream to perform, you’re learning new tech skills, gaining confidence, and maybe even making some cash at the same time. You can add a ko-fi.com link to your streams so that people can ‘buy you a coffee’ (send you a bit of cash) if they like what you’re doing.
Make your free time work for your future
How often have you wished everything was just a bit less hectic so you could learn that new instrument, redo your website, take that online marketing course or any number of other backburner things you know would improve your life down the line?
As much of a downer and a struggle as it is at the moment, we’re unlikely to find another point in our lives when we have this much time and so little to do. As long as you have your other basic needs met, this could be the ideal time to dive into some of those improvement activities that could really pay off for you once gigging is possible again.
The added bonus to leveraging your free time is that it’s a great mood-lifter and gives you a sense of progress in your career, even though you’re not able to gig at the moment.
About the Author
Kate is a music journalist who has written for zines, national and international publications. She’s produced video content for festivals and has travelled around the world reporting on music, tech and culture events. Alongside covering music and culture, Kate also produces live digital events and researches new technology for live performance.
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