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Musicians and Social Distancing

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 admin

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 might hold.  


Review your finances

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 prepared.


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

Yes 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.

Develop yourself

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 potential.

Create multiple streams of income

Whether 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.

Licensing fees


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.

Support others?

There 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. 

Posted by Nimi Akinkugbe

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Mrs. Nimi Akinkugbe is currently the CEO of Bestman Games, founded in 2012, which brought the globally renowned 'Monopoly' board game to Nigeria. She served as the the Head of Private and Business Banking at Stanbic IBTC Bank Plc (formerly known as IBTC Chartered Bank plc). Mrs. Akinkugbe also served as Head of Asset Management and Private Banking Department of IBTC Chartered Bank plc. where she was responsible for IBTC Asset Management Limited. Nimi holds a Bachelor’s Degree from The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) and an MBA from Lagos Business School. She is a Director at The Play Pen (Child Development Centre), The Daisy Management Centre and Bestman Games Ltd. She is also a member of the Board of Trustees for the Ajumogobia Science Foundation, Women in Management & Business (WIMBIZ) and the Musical Society of Nigeria (MUSON) Artistes Committee. In her free time, she enjoys playing the piano, writing, travel, boating and orchid gardening.

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