The Music Industry in the Time of Coronavirus
It’s been an extremely uncertain time for all of us at the moment – we are seeing possibly the most completely unpredictable global crisis we’ve ever seen, and maybe will ever see in our lifetimes. Our NHS is experiencing pressure like never seen before, the economy is crashing, people close to us are being made redundant every single day, and everything is gloomy (apart from, annoyingly, the weather).
I urge everybody to show all the support they can for the thousands of people on the front line during this crisis – the NHS workers, the carers, retail workers, pharmacists, and all essential workers – each and every one of you are wonderful.
I don’t work in an essential role – but I work in an industry that is being hit extremely hard. This isn’t a ‘But what about ME?’ article, I promise, but I did want to take the time to talk about the music industry and how the Covid-19 crisis is affecting us. Music is something that keeps a large majority of us sane, and acts as an escape and even therapy to many of us.
For hundreds of thousands of people across the UK and millions more around the world, if you asked them ‘what are you most excited for this summer?’ it will either be a luxurious holiday destination, or a music festival. But at the moment, every single day sees another festival being cancelled, a tour being rescheduled, albums being postponed. When I saw Glastonbury get cancelled, not only was I hugely disappointed that I wasn’t able to camp in a grotty field for the best part of a week, that’s when I realised ‘Okay, this really is a massive deal for us. We’re getting hit hard by this.’
Live shows are one of the main parts of the music business that keeps the industry and everybody in it afloat. Now that streaming is becoming our main source of music consumption, the majority of the money artists, labels and other industry executives make is from tours and festival appearances. It takes a long time for most musicians to be able to get to a level where they can be entirely self-sufficient from the art they make, and live performances play the most prominent part in this. Bands spend years relentlessly touring and growing their audience to get to a point where they can comfortably quit their day jobs. Without these shows and festival slots, the livelihoods of many artists could also suffer, not to mention the multitudes of people that work behind the scenes to make these shows happen in the first place.
I wanted to mention a few things you could potentially do to help the musicians you love during this crisis. If you can, maybe with the money you get back from that gig or festival ticket you purchased to see your favourite bands – buy an album to play while you work from home, get a piece of merch to lounge around the house in. These small gestures could truly make a difference to those people who soundtrack your working from home playlist. Even showing them your support on social media, sharing your favourite music to your friends helps. Small gestures add up.
In the meantime, all we can do is hope for the best, stay inside, maybe set up a tent in your living room and play YouTube videos of Glastonbury footage from last year while wearing wellies and drinking a warm beer. Stay safe, stay isolated and let’s hope that maybe, at least the festivals at the end of the summer are still happening and we can fit in a visit to End of the Road or Reading and Leeds (whatever floats your musical boat).
Talking of working from home playlists – if, like me, you’ve been at home for longer than you’ve ever stayed in your home for before, have exhausted your music library and are dying for new music to get your teeth into, here’s a working from home playlist I specifically made for that occasion:
Words By Venita Cutler – 25/02/20
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