The economic effects of the Coronavirus with its social distancing
restrictions have had a severe impact on the global entertainment industry with
creatives seeing a significant loss of income.
The temporary break in playing
live has removed one relatively dependable source of income. Many musicians survive
from gig to gig with typical sources of other income from entertaining at
events, playing in church and teaching. As all these areas have been affected
by the pandemic, there is a compounded loss of work as live gig dates and tours have
been postponed indefinitely or cancelled.
Here are some ideas for
musicians and other entertainers as you navigate these challenging times:
Sort out your
Many creatives can be somewhat
lax about important administrative matters; freelancers operating largely without
structure. Use this quiet
time to put your books up to date and craft out a sustainable business plan. You
are your business; things are different now, so it does need some deep
reflection to review how you did business in the past, and what the future
Take a critical look at
your finances. A strict budget will help you to prioritise as you must cut back
drastically on expenses, except for essentials. It is at times like this that
the need for an emergency fund to tide you over for a period of say six months
of little or no income, becomes glaring.
Without the safety net of emergency
savings, health insurance or a pension plan, one is very vulnerable to any
shock. Start to be proactive about building savings. Start with what you have,
no matter how little. There will be another crisis; that is part of life. Be
Map out a digital strategy
With everyone having to
spend so much more time at home, your audience is looking for ways to fill that
time. Are you
online? Your entire fan base probably is, as well as millions of others that
don't yet know about you. The
internet makes it possible to share and promote your work to a global audience reaching
millions cheaply and efficiently.
With the right strategy, you
can build a following in faraway lands that are happy to watch you on their
devices. Take your online presence seriously. If
you cannot handle this yourself, hire help. You do need to be out there.
This is the time
to complete some of the tasks that you’ve neglected. This could include a
merchandise range, a revamp of a tired website and social media accounts or a YouTube
channel. An elegant website with easy
navigation and designed for e-commerce may get you some sales over time.
An online concert?
Why not host an Instagram
or YouTube live concert? Advertise the live stream and prepare a small set just as
you would for a normal gig. With the curfew and venues closed you have a better
chance of getting a large group to watch you perform online now than you would
have before. The best part
is that both you and your audience are staying safe but you will also be
getting your music out there.
No one can survive on totally
free gigs for the foreseeable future. There is nothing wrong with including a
donation link for people to pay something if they enjoyed the show. Don't be
embarrassed to ask for money that you need. Ticket sales, yes even for an
online concert are likely to become the norm.
An online concert is not the same as seeing you in person but it may be
all we have for a while. At the end of this, audiences will have a new
appreciation and desire for that special connection that special magic that
live music brings.
Live music at Zoom events
There are still opportunities to perform at online events;
webinars, birthdays, weddings, funerals etc. Don't be mediocre; practice makes
perfect and you should also be able to manage the online platform as best you
can to give viewers an excellent experience. There is nothing more frustrating
than a musician struggling with the network as hundreds of people listen in.
Keep creating content
you can’t gig or tour, but you have gained precious time to work on your creativity
and create content. Write new songs and scripts,
create new beats, make new music. Build a war chest of material that you can
pull off the shelf at any time. Keep it fresh and current. Revisit old work
that you never got round to releasing and perfect it. Continue to produce, even
during the quiet times. Sometimes the best work
comes from challenging times such as this.
Invest in yourself constantly
and be proactive about developing both personally and professionally. Self-development
is one of the greatest investments that you can make. When last did you enroll on a course or have some training? There are so many free or
affordable webinars. Find one or two that meet your needs and enrol. You should always be
learning, growing and adapting.
Large corporates are willing
to invest significant sums to associate with particular entertainers that come
with a significant fan base and audience. Take deliberate steps to develop and position
a strong and timeless personal brand. Your image, credibility, reputation and
style play a role in determining a brand’s interest and can significantly supplement
and diversify revenue streams.
The popularity and success of
celebrity endorsement have prompted stars to expand their portfolios by launching
their own clothing, perfume, real estate, children’s products, or collaborate
with major brands to keep their names out there and secure their earning
Create multiple streams of income
it is from a pandemic or during normal times, the need
to diversify earnings becomes even more glaring for entertainers for whom
irregular income is the norm. Passive income comes from having a
diversified portfolio includes investment income, dividends, rent, royalties
and so much more.
For composers, commissions are perhaps the most sought-after
method of making money for original work. If you are a prolific songwriter,
you can write songs for other musicians or compose specifically for movies,
Television shows, adverts, jingles and so on. A composer
could be paid a licensing fee to write music score for a production.
Commissions also come in the form of either a lump sum for a
one-time project, such as a movie score, or in a recurring contract, such as
scoring a television series. It is possible for talented composers to find
consistent work by being commissioned to write television scores. Thankfully TV and radio are now needed more than ever.
Can you teach?
There is a captive audience with the students of the world learning
at home. It is not just about academic subjects; parents will not want their
children to miss out on important extracurricular activities. A tutor with high
quality online lessons will be highly sought after.
Can you teach your instrument to individuals and groups? This is a great way to supplement your stricken income doing
what you love and leaving you enough time to build back your business.
will always be someone far worse off than you. If you are able to support
others financially, through your network or in other ways, do so. Harness
opportunities to collaborate; this is the time for collaboration and not
competition; together everyone can achieve more.
It goes without
saying that these are trying times for us all. It will require focus,
innovation, and collaboration to navigate these choppy waters. It will be those
that think outside the box, continue to develop themselves and are willing to
collaborate that will come out stronger on the other side.
Above all remember that health is wealth. Be mindful of your mental and
physical health and do all you can to remain positive, healthy and safe.