This is 2020, and what started with a bang and a handful of hopeful new ideas, new strategies and a positive outlook on your creative and financial year has now tumbled into a downward spiral of insecurity, anxiety, worry and concern.
Who would have thought that you would spend a few weeks, god forbid a few months locked up at home. We as creatives thrive on the social connection with people. We jam, we talk through song ideas, we record, we perform.... not only do we depend on those things financially, but also creatively. We get our inspiration from being around inspirational people, from participating in situations that create random meetings, friendships, partnerships. The music industry is based around "who you know" "who you are having a beer with" and "who you feel connected with".
I would like to be able to give you a positive outlook, some good news, but especially us musicians, we are not doctors, we are not virologist who know the ins and outs of this pandemic so I have nothing to offer you that will give you an answer to how long this is gonna last.
So, I'm going for the next best thing. How can we, as musicians adapt our business and still provide the services that we have to offer, and also, how can we, as musicians provide the music that is so needed for the rest of the world to deal with their emotions and insecurities surrounding this pandemic.
1. Home Studios
You might be thinking, "well duh Einstein, what else you got?" but this first point is not for the people who already have one, if you do, that's awesome, for those of you who do, I would highly recommend thinking about how you can expand your services that you can provide in your current home studio, but more on that later. This article is for people who are right now trying to figure out the issue of working from home with a vastly shrinking budget.
What I want to talk about with this point is, how do you know what you need if you have NO experience with recording? Before you spend all your savings, check this list.
2. Add to your services.
You are not "Just" a songwriter, musician, artist, etc. This is the time to make a list of all the skills you have and see how you can create more services out of that. I had a friend who called me in a panic saying " I'm just a singer, I don't even know how to record myself, what am I going to do?".
Yes, learning to record yourself is going to take some time, and this is the time of your life to start learning that, but what you can do right now is offer online vocal coaching, online vocal lessons, performance coaching. I assume you have studied for years of your life to be able to do the work you are doing right now. And you created a unique and personal approach in translating all your knowledge into a set of tools that work for you. Other people are still in the process of doing that, and you can help them achieve this goal.
For all the artists and performers out there confused about the countless platforms that offer online shows and how to monetize on those,, here is a complete breakdown of all the services available for you.
If you are usually in a studio environment, such as a producer, mix engineer and you have a good home studio setup, this is the time to work on tracks for libraries, Film and TV and more. If you are a mix engineer, I would highly recommend to see if you can get some music programming chops in, assuming you have a musical ear, this is a skill that will really come in handy in the future. If you are a front of house engineer, see if you can get to working on your mixing skills!
This is a unique time where we can be teachers AND students, lets take advantage of it.
3. Making new connections
We don't need to go to a bar to meet people, lets just assume we are all sitting at home and we're all bored at various hours during the day. Spend all your time that you are now social media scrolling anyway and find some new interesting people to meet. Setup online coffee meetings with strangers and create a new connection. Don't worry about people not responding to your messages, don't worry about feeling awkward to talk to a stranger, if someone would approach you to connect, would you find that strange? My guess is....... probably not, so go for it, set a goal of meeting 2 to 5 new people a week, that would be about the average of you taking coffee meetings throughout the week.
Last week I posted a "call to chat" with people via FaceTime, and over 20 people responded just to have a coffee and connect. Try it out, you might make a new friend or even a new business partner. PS: I'm around if you wanna chat! :)
4. To Do Lists
Yes, you might be at home wearing yoga pants watching reruns of Friends for 10 hours a day, but if you weren't a musician but an accountant instead, you would still work from home on the regular work hours you usually work in your office.
Just because all your gigs got cancelled, or your cowrites, doesn't mean you are now on an endless Sunday afternoon. This is GO time.
So, for your mental state, take a shower everyday, put on jeans, comb your hair and sit at the kitchen table and meet new people online, practice your instruments, and expand on your skills. Create a todo list for each day and really stick to your schedule.
There are a million apps to help you do exactly that, my personal favorite is my google calendar that I share with the people that I work with and any.do, an easy app with checklists for everyday. There is nothing more satisfying than checking off all this things you wanted to do!
Click on the image below for a full article on picking the best planning app for you!!
5. Take Time For You
This is a tricky one, you might be thinking, "all I'm doing right now is taking time for me and it's driving me batshit crazy". But.....are you really??? Are you taking time to step away from your phone, the news, and are you taking time to workout, go inward and meditate?
Give yourself permission to be afraid and worried and feel unsettled for a minute, because we can't pretend like it doesn't exists, but we also can't walk around with a 24/7 rock in our stomach. If you take time for yourself each day, maybe just 20 minutes or an hour of unplugged time, you can find a place to put all those feelings so that you don't have to cary it around with you all day.
Sometimes it's even good to not do music, step away from it for a minute and do something completely different. Call a friend, read a book, draw, do some gardening.
I've found myself feeling intensely grateful for all the little things that I used to take for granted. Things like taking the dog to the dog park, having drinks with friends, going to the studio and doing cowrites with 3 or 4 people, talking to strangers in the supermarket. these are all things we never even thought were special until now.
If anything, how amazing is it that we can see such value in all these little things now??
Hang in there everyone, and hit me up if you wanna chat!! <3 Femke