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Life During Quarantine 23: Music –a Voice not Heard During the Pandemic

COVID-19 has had such a varying impact on so many different businesses.  Its impact on the music industry is similar to other businesses.  What I mean by this is it really depends upon what segment of the music industry you are involved in as to how it is impacting your business.

–Jeff Bertrand, Bertrand’s Music “Partners In Your Musical Journey”https://bertrandsmusicrentals.com/

Below are a few examples.

  1. Performers and Artist – Most are really struggling, No live performances.  This industry is extremely hard hit.
  2. Guitars or what is commonly referred to as Combo Products in the music industry as seen its highest growth since the Beatles.
  3. Lessons – No as hard hit many adapted quickly to virtual lessons but overall about a 30% drop in this industry
  4. Band & Orchestra – This one is really all over the board and its impact is almost dependent upon the State you do business.  Some governors took a harder approach and because these are wind instruments that you blow into were concerned about the spread of the virus.  Music dealers who specialize in this area where the governor took a harder approach are seeing losses between 70-90%.  In other states ie Oklahoma, Texas, Alabama to name a few the governors have recognized the importance of how music impacts a person’s life.  It develops the brain and generally makes people happier.  (google Music and the brain and you will get a wealth of information)  These states have still seen a loss in revenue but it seems to be more like 15-30%
  5. Lastly Vendors & Manufacturers – With the exception of Guitar manufacturers, most manufacturers are reporting 30-50% losses and have tons of excess inventory they are struggling to sell to dealers.

There is nothing like a good song to get me through the toughest of days. An industry and a hobby, music impacts our lives. The music of an era is in tune with its art, culture, and politics. I have been a live music fan since my youth. My first concerts were things like The Kinks’, Kenny Loggins.  Saw the Cars at a college lawn fest. I followed friends that were musicians to their shows back home in Massachusetts, in Greece, and here in San Diego. I took a bus trip during college to see the Grateful Dead at the Boston Garden. I drove with friends in a snowstorm to see The Police in Providence. One of my favorite concerts was seeing The Smashing Pumpkins at Lycabettus, the hill from which you can see the Acropolis. Music has inspired my life! So, let’s look back to the early days of the pandemic to begin.

On Feb. 28, Green Day announced that they were postponing their tour of Asia due to the developing coronavirus outbreak. It was mid-March when major concert promoters – including Live Nation and AEG – began suspending events en masse. Many highly-anticipated treks – including those by the Rolling StonesKissLynyrd Skynyrd, and Ozzy Osbourne – were pushed back. By the end of the month, virtually all of the spring and summer tours had been suspended or canceled. Read More: COVID-19’s Effect on the Music Industry, Six Months In | https://ultimateclassicrock.com/covid-19-music-industry-six-months/?utm_source=tsmclip&utm_medium=referral

It was the beginning of March when Don Smiley started planning for the worst. As the chief executive of Milwaukee’s Summerfest — which calls itself “the world’s largest music festival,” attracting 900,000 people over 11 days each year — Smiley was confronting a tidal wave of reports about the outbreak of COVID-19 in the U.S. With the news darkening, he began to seriously consider dismantling the event’s entire meticulous plan. In its 52-year history, Summerfest — which was set to include performances by artists from Justin Bieber to Guns N’ Roses this year — had never been canceled or postponed. https://www.rollingstone.com/pro/lists/coronavirus-music-business-latest-974262/

I started doing some research but thought getting some feedback firsthand was crucial. So here are the opinions of some local and national musicians in my circle of friends. My question was simple: How are you? I am writing an article about life during quarantine and how it affected music. Can you write me a few sentences for me to include? Lol by this evening? Love all those who were happy to respond!

“The pandemic has all but destroyed the entertainment industry. Traveling musical acts are at a standstill. Personally, I haven’t worked since March. Large groups of people are not allowed and flying across the country is not happening because there are no shows, to begin with.” Quote from Randall Hall, formerly of Lynyrd Skynyrd.

Bart Mendoza owner of Blind Spot Records and music Journalist had this to say:
“It’s brought a way of life to a standstill. Musicians need to perform not only for their own skills but also for feedback from the audience, without that there is a big empty space. I’ve been keeping busy with other music-related projects, writing and recording, but it’s like driving a car with a wheel missing, you might get a few feet, but you can only go so far. Getting by because I juggle a lot of projects and have understanding friends and family, but things are really tough, with no solution any time soon. At the moment, there are more questions than answers, but I hope music and live performance can make a strong comeback next year, the sooner the better.”

From Blaise Garza Saxophonist with the Violent Femmes when asked how Covid affected his music:I honestly don’t have much to say other than it forced me to stay inside and practice and I’ve come out of this last 8month or so period with more technical skills on my secondary/”for fun” instruments.  Sax (main), piano (most time practicing), flute, clarinet, and trombone.

Inga Rudin singer-songwriter Lola Montez Nashville, TN gave me a positive message. I have known her since the ’90s overseas. Living in Nashville, her place of work was destroyed in the tornado, and then her music during the pandemic changed. She has been an inspiration, with her Facebook group “Virus Social Distance Network. She shared:
“COVID-19 has changed our views on how we approach our audience.  We have changed our focus.  Although we love to play live, we have focused mainly on creation.  We are still creating and pushing forward.  We have discovered new things about ourselves and are flourishing and cannot wait for what lies ahead. Quarantine or no quarantine!”

Ron Wheeler Ron’s Garage Band, Coronado, CA, and retired Navy had this to say: “Since the pandemic began last March, live music has become almost non-existent.  My band has not played a gig since then…even though we had a few private events lined up…all have been cancelled.  I have been able to live stream solo and duo gigs with my lead guitar player…but our drummer has been hit the hardest…no gigs…no income from music at all…plus, he has nowhere to even practice.  We do what we can to keep the live spirit going, but it is becoming much more difficult with lockdowns and such continuing.  No end in sight either…”

Cathryn Beeks Listen Local since 2003  San Diego, CA and 1/2 Fast photo and film, was upbeat as well:“ Quarantine may have stopped live music venues but I think it did the opposite for musicians. Many that I know including myself experienced the most productive months ever. Trying new things, learning how to record, learning how to collaborate remotely, etc. now if we can just open back up to share all this new music!”

One of the articles I read from earlier in the year had so much to say! “The music industry has been hit hard by coronavirus with live performance revenue the biggest casualty. A six-month shutdown is estimated to cost the industry more than $10bn in sponsorships, with longer delays being even more devastating. The industry is fighting back with new ways to monetize music consumption and innovative models: Fortnite hosted a live rap concert that attracted nearly 30 million live viewers. The crisis is likely to accelerate underlying trends in the music industry, based on the importance of streaming, which has grown from 9% to 47% of total industry revenues in just six years.https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/05/this-is-how-covid-19-is-affecting-the-music-industry/

In March of 2020, the world began to take widespread preventative measures against the spread of a novel coronavirus through travel restrictions, quarantines, and limitations on group gatherings. These restrictions resulted in the immediate closing of many businesses, including concert venues, and put an abrupt end to live music performances across Europe and the United States. This had immediate implications for touring bands, as bands earn most of their income touring, and many found themselves in a situation where they experienced substantial financial losses alongside negative affective ramifications. This article utilized evidence from qualitative interviews and public statements to draw inferences about the impact of COVID-19 on the music industry, with a particular focus on touring musicians and their respective managers, promoters, booking agencies, and record labels. Musicians reported negative affective and financial ramifications because of COVID-19, but they also reported overwhelming support from metal music fans that made the fallout from the pandemic less severe. https://orcid.org/0000-0002-0452-0922

“Given the tremendous popularity of these shows, we are seeing the potential for live-streaming to become an additional long-term component of our concert business, allowing fans in other cities, or those who can’t attend, to enjoy the concert as well.” — Michael Rapino to HuffPost https://news.yahoo.com/how-the-coronavirus-could-change-the-live-music-industry-135916292.html

Please remember to be supportive of musicians wherever you are, they need you!


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Cynthia Kosciuczyk, MBA
Cynthia Kosciuczyk, MBAhttp://www.designertastes.com/
I took the less-traveled roads which led to many careers. Each of these contributed to my unique mix of expertise: science research, teaching, food, art, and textiles. Owning and operating my own businesses (a bakery, a gallery, and a consulting business) thrust me into the driver seat of learning many diverse roles from customer service to public relations and resulted in my unique management style. Participating in the creation of startups, working in design, and my own businesses and technology endeavors. My quest for knowledge and seeking out the best has turned me into a networking enthusiast. A lifelong passion for textiles and Persian rugs taught me an array of professional skills such as research, writing, and community events. Networking resulted in a multitude of business opportunities. My experiences include Management, Entrepreneurship, Sales, Design, Descriptive Writing, Business Strategy, Color, and Textiles. Every facet of my work and life comes together like pieces of a puzzle. I strive to be a phenomenal networker and problem solver who continues to learn and grow.

3 COMMENTS

  1. Thank you Cynthia for your article! As a musician myself I agree with Inga Rudin and Cathryn most. COVID helped me to go within. Maybe on a higher level it is the reason why COVID happened. So we had no where else to go but inward.

    I started to change my diet, did exercises, lost a lot of unnecessary weight, but mostly… I started to go inward in search of my own sound! Day after day I was able to make music in the place I was in lockdown and connected to my heart, my spirit, the why I am doing music. I found my way, my voice! And when I was able to travel back home again, everything changed! The right people came on my path, yes online as we are again in half a lockdown. The feedback of new audience to my new sound resonates precisely how I meant the music! To move hearts!

    Yes financially I have been hit hard and sometimes have no clue where to go, but what came in return is that people (even bank clerks, my physiotherapist, restaurant owners, gas station clerks started to follow my Spotify or Youtube, just to give me support. I am focusing now on online music, videos, film and sharing what I love to do most; moving hearts with words and music, with a firm knowing.. this too shall pass.

    Love, Eyra and again a sincerely thank you for shedding a light on our field! 💖

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