How the Music Community is Being Affected by the Pandemic
Perspective creates gratitude, a notion that’s representative of countless musicians around the world who are missing out on touring and playing shows. Although it’s difficult to look at any specific scenario in this new reality and complain about it, musicians and entertainers in general, have been severely affected by it.
If you told someone a year ago that 2020 would consist of a global pandemic that would devastate the country and halt various forms of entertainment as we know it, most wouldn’t believe you. As dystopian of a reality we find ourselves in, it makes it significantly more of a dejected reality with not knowing what’s to come.
Musicians alike can tell you how this halt to their lives has affected them. Whether it’s a DIY band not being able to grind away while building their fan base or a successful touring band who is missing out on a year’s worth of income, all musicians can relate during this time.
What'll Happen to Music Venues?
Similar to the food industry, music venues are hurting. However, unlike restaurants, there aren’t many alternatives available for a music venue to stay open with a year of no income. The only viable option is for them to receive relief-funding from future COVID-19 stimulus packages. Still, we all know how useless the U.S. government is (at least some of us do).
Obviously, most musicians and promoters understand the importance of health during the severity of a pandemic. If you talk to any musician or promoter who is struggling right now, they’re not fighting for venues to open back up. In fact, they’re doing the opposite and understand the principal health concerns because of this virus.
Besides public support, music venues need to achieve relief from the various stimulus packages being discussed. Although my natural pessimistic perspective feels this won’t be likely, with enough public support and concern, it’s possible.
What Musicians Will Quit or Continue to Pursue Music?
Whenever something hinders a person’s ability to do what they love, it almost always leads to a negative consequence. There’s no shame in someone taking a safe route, especially when it comes to music. During these times, you have up and coming musicians questioning whether they should continue their musical path.
On the other, you have the same group of musicians who feel the opposite and want to chase their dream even more vigorously than before. Of course, you have A-list artists who make their living through touring and selling records, but the vast majority of A-list artists are going to continue what they’re doing once we reach a sense of normalcy. At the very least, they might question their revenue streams and come up with more avenues of revenue if something else halts their revenue for an entire year.
In between A-list artists and DIY bands, you have a vast array of artists that make a small or decent living through touring and selling records. However, they find themselves in a worrisome spot since they’re not multi-millionaires like someone like Ed Sheeran, who will be completely fine financially during this time.
Personally, I somewhat understand musicians who are unsure about their future because of this sorrowful presence, but I find myself more vehement about pursuing music than previously. Considering this pandemic has affected every industry, people who claim to take the ‘safe route’ while giving up on their dreams, don’t make much sense to me.
Of course, having money to pay for general living means is essential, but what’s the point of living if you don’t try a risk? As noted, the ‘safe route’ isn’t as safe as most people think it is. There’s no point in getting a tedious 9 to 5 job while withering away wondering what could’ve been. Some people might disagree with me, and that’s fine. As edgy as I might sound, I’m going to pursue my musical endeavors as long as possible.
Interview with Rob Brennan
Rob Brennan has been a friend of mine for many years and is a fantastic drummer who currently drums for Heavy Tides and has previously drummed for Northern State.
I decided to reach out to Rob to discuss how this pandemic has affected him personally. Every person has their own story, and it interested me to find out if Rob agrees with me about pursuing our dreams more than ever before, or if he’s wondering about a safer option. Down below is a quick interview I did with Rob via facetime and email.
What would you be doing differently musically if the pandemic never happened?
Personally, I think I would have a full EP written for Heavy Tides by now, as well as shows lined up for the summer. On March 6th, we played a show at a local VFW, and the whole evening was a spark that we all desperately needed at the time. After that show, we were dead set on writing as much as we could. That show was also the last “normal” Friday night any of us had. The next week the world turned off.
How has the pandemic affected your current music endeavor?
It has affected me in the sense that I have barely any time to practice now. I would be able to get around 2-4 hours of practice done a day. Now it’s 30 minutes a day during the week and Sundays are still 2-4 hours. I’m a delivery driver for Sail Away Coffee Company here on Long Island. I started at that job a week before the United States shut down, and I was only going to be delivering coffee and kegs three days a week.
The online sector of the company blew up pretty much overnight. Before I knew it, I was in the warehouse sometimes 10-12 hours a day, six days a week doing everything I could to help the company get ahead of the sudden demand. What I learned from this is that the universe is going to throw obstacles like this your way, whether you like it or not.
How you react to these obstacles is up to you. Do I sit around and complain about having less practice time? Or do I take the cards I’ve been dealt and run with that? I ran with it. I bought a practice pad kit, and I now wake up an hour earlier to get the work in before work. I know I’ll be too tired to get any solid practice in after.
What will you be doing differently in music once the pandemic is over?
I will be attending and playing shows again with more appreciation. I’ve always appreciated live music since I went to my first concert. What I took for granted was the community that live music encapsulates. A majority of my friendships have been forged through live music.
How will this pandemic change your outlook on your music career (good or bad)?
In a strange way, my outlook on what I would like to do with music and also my life has been better than it ever has been. I think with how fast the world was running for so long took a toll on me because a lot of the time, I was falling into the comparison trap.
Constantly I would see musicians my age going on tour and doing these massive things, and I would compare that to myself and say, “Jesus Christ, what the hell am I doing.”
But this pandemic gave me room to completely stop and re-evaluate what I wanted to do with music and my life in general. I have a lot of hope. But an author named Rebecca Solnit wrote that hope has to be a conscious action. There cannot be a blind optimistic version of it otherwise that validates inaction. Have hope, but also do something with it.
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