16 Aug Musicians Post Coronavirus? Here’s What You Need to Know
Coronavirus, what can we say? COVID-19 has been a destructive force to families, communities, economies, small businesses, employees, and freelance/gig workers. For people earning an income in the arts and entertainment spectrum, like musicians, coronavirus has proven itself to be utterly disastrous. Lost income from cancelled gigs, a lack of financial support, and a general sense of necessity over luxury, has forced musicians to get more creative about earning a living. Even though economies are slowly starting to open back up, the music industry is still not even close to getting back to normalcy. As musicians face a post-coronavirus economy, we need to have a personal strategy to overcome the mounting challenges that the virus has caused that will be here long after it dissipates.
According to a recent survey published by the National Independent Venue Association, it has come to light that 90 percent of independent venue owners, promoters and bookers say that they will have to close permanently within the next few months. This means that not only are they closed during the pandemic, but the virus has created such a financial chasm that venues won’t be able to recoup their losses moving forward. This means that there is a very high possibility that we’ll have a lot less stages to perform on moving forward.
The implications of this issue touches more than just performing musicians. Anyone working in the music industry or any entity economically connected with the music industry for that matter will undergo a massive decline in their bottom line.
Take a look at what’s going on with SXSW, LLC, the company responsible for Austin, TX’s South By Southwest Festival. They’ve had to cancel their entire music festival for 2020, and are in danger of going under for good. The same thing has happened to Dawson City Music Festival, Coachella, Burning Man, Canadian Music Week and more. These are all high dollar enterprises with cash reserves and insurance policies to keep them afloat during a disaster. They are still hurting. We can only imagine just how much the pandemic has impacted the smaller local venues even more.
Stages and live performance opportunities will be fewer for the foreseeable future.
Additionally, as individuals try to cope with their personal financial losses, there will be less discretionary income for private functions, weddings, parties, and gatherings. People will be looking for alternative and more affordable ways to access quality entertainment.
Musicians would be wise to start answering these challenges now. What happens if venues and live performance opportunities decrease by 50% and opportunities fail to resurge for another 5-10 years post coronavirus?
Live streaming is an obvious answer. But that can’t be the only one. Here’s why.
You’ll be competing with a lot of other musicians for live streaming attention.
Since a lot of musicians depend on live performances for income, a natural choice would be the live stream. However, because there are so many musicians offering live stream shows, that space can become oversaturated very quickly. You’ll be competing with other musicians for attention. It’s not a complete deal-breaker, but it’s something you should be aware of. If live streaming is something you want to do, you’ll need to figure out a way to uniquely position your live streams by using story-telling and suspense tactics or theme-specific shows that are engaging, interactive, and fun. You’re going to have to offer more than just you playing your instrument and singing. Check out 12 Live Streaming Tips for Musicians for more ideas.
Copyright issues can be a factor in deciding what music you can perform.
For live performances, we heavily depended on the venues to cover the PRO fees so that we can perform cover songs with no pushback. It’s a completely different ballgame when it comes to live streaming. If you perform anyone’s song other than your original music, you could be held liable for copyright infringement. Platforms like YouTube and Facebook could strike your channel or shutdown your live streaming privileges if you have too many violations. In order to avoid these pitfalls, it’s recommended to perform your own original music during live streams.
While live streaming can bring in a certain amount of income, it won’t necessarily be as reliable as the income received from performing live at venues. There’s usually no guarantee with live streaming. Even if you gate your stream with a ticketing feature, there’s still no way to predict how many people will show up. Live shows have an element of realness that you won’t be able to mimic with a camera and a laptop. As a result, you may receive less tips and less merchandise sales. You may have to do double the amount of live streaming compared to live performances in order to earn just as much. Keeping up with that schedule can result in a significant amount of burn out.
Even if you’re not a performing musician, you may be impacted by the pandemic in other ways. Your clients may not have as much income to work with as they did before. And you may see a decline in projects or job offers due to financial strain.
What can you do?
Diversify your offerings.
It’s time to start thinking about a long-term strategy. It doesn’t look like venues and live performance opportunities will be back to normal anytime soon. On the other hand, if other musicians represent your revenue stream, let’s say you’re a session musician for example, your musician clients may be facing a financial strain.
Explore other options. What other things can you do to earn an income with your music? Any of these 18 ways to earn money with music is a great place to start.
Taking this a bit further, think about ways you can offer a solution in the current climate. For example, there are a lot of children who are not going to traditional school right now due to COVID-19 concerns. Is there a way you can offer virtual music lessons to students? Also, your fans need music now more than ever. Can you provide special premium musical experiences for your fans?
You could also create virtual packages for your fans such as a virtual Birthday telegram, a songwriting session, or even a private Happy Hour show for families. This way you’re not depending on the general public and you’re re-creating the guarantee that you would have received from venues.
In addition, now is a great time to set up passive income systems so that even after the virus has come and gone, you’re still making money regardless. Passive income is money you earn without having to physically participate in the transaction. There is a considerable amount of time or cash investment up front, but after you get your system in motion, you will continue to earn money day after day. An example of a passive income opportunity is an online workshop. With this option, you can pre-record the class and set it up to automatically deliver to new sign-ups. All you have to do is promote the class. The other work has already been done and each new student that enrols pays a fee earning you passive income. There are other forms of passive income to consider as well. Either way, setting up multiple revenue streams, particularly with passive income, can give you freedom and flexibility with your time and finances.
If you need help building a business strategy that embraces multiple revenue streams, download my free Build a Music Business Model Worksheet. It will help you turn your interests into revenue-generating strategies and start earning more income with your music.
As entrepreneurs, musicians are in a unique position to provide creative services and products on many different levels. The pandemic has demonstrated that we can not simply depend on one form of revenue. Anything can happen and we must put more effort into stabilizing our business strategy in order to weather any storm on the horizon.
Anitra Jay is an acoustic soul singer-songwriter based in Houston, TX. She tours regularly up and down the US from Vermont to Texas and everywhere in between. Her music is a sultry down to earth blend of soul, pop, and gospel. After being laid off from her job in 2007, Anitra decided to pursue a career in music. She took her educational experiences in Public Relations and her professional background in marketing and applied it full force to her music. She’s found significant success in establishing a lasting fanbase using her special brand of marketing techniques which she shares freely with other artists on The Crafty Musician Blog. Her passion is to inspire other musicians and build a community of like-minded independent artists to encourage and promote successful careers in the arts. Subscribe to Anitra’s YouTube channel for weekly biz tips and hacks for your music career.