We are certainly in unprecedented times, and so many musicians are having their livelihood affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. In this Working Musician’s Guide to Coronavirus we are going to show you how you can continue making money to support yourself as a musician in these tough times.
It’s been one thing after another. Shows have been cancelled, tours shut down, huge events such as SXSW, Ultra, Winter Music, and Cochella closed or delayed, bars closed, venues shuttered, festivals cancelled. We are being told to stay home and away from other people for the foreseeable future.
“It’s clear that musicians aren’t going to be able to rely on live performances to make money until this pandemic is under control. I started reaching out to gear companies that I work with and asked them to keep me in mind for marketing campaign opportunities… I’m trying to reestablish communication with filmmakers who’d previously reached out to me about scoring their projects. It’s a hustle. Everyone I’ve spoken to is anxious and frustrated… Most of us are definitely freaking out about the sudden loss of income and the uncertainty that lies ahead.” – Sarah Lipstate, Noveller
The implications for festival organizers and the 30+ million people who attend them annually are horrible. But the people who will be most effected, though, are the bands who fill the all-day lineups and the support teams that help them put on the show. The lives of performing musicians are being severely impacted and many have seen their main source of income suddenly cut off. Their livelihoods shattered.
Without help, many musicians will be left to suffer the profound financial and emotional impacts of isolation and the lack of ways to express yourself artistically in this most stressful time.
“We make our money off the road. For me, it’s all about selling merch. This sucks.” – Mercy Bell
As a performer, in any genre, your chances of making income in any traditional way is not going to be available for some time. No one knows how long the crisis will be upon us. So what do you do?
In this article, we’re going to round up some ideas of how you can make the best of this tough situation, learn how to promote your music, stream your music, keep some money coming in, and stay connected.
Ask for Help
It’s clear that musicians are in a difficult situation with the gathering limits imposed worldwide. But your fans aren’t embedded in the music world and they may not know how tough your situation is becoming. Don’t be afraid to ask your fans for help! Create some social media posts or an email to your list telling fans how they can support you. Here are some ideas:
- Let your fans know you have music for sale and where they can buy it.
- If you’re able to, allow fans to pay what they want for your music. Set a minimum price, but allow fans to pay more if they have the means and want to support you. You’ll probably be surprised by how many fans throw in a few extra dollars.
- Let your fans know what you are up to by promoting your music and telling them where they can buy your merch.
- Create a PayPal.me link so you can accept donations from fans. Even though we’re being forced apart by quarantines, more and more people are coming together through this crisis and supporting each other.
Switch Gears and Focus on Live Streaming
You can’t perform on stage, but the internet opens up a lot of opportunities to continue performing even with the quarantine situation. There are a lot of streaming platforms available including Twitch, YouTube, Facebook and Instagram Live, and StageIt. We all need something to do when we’re stuck at home. So why not hangout with your fans online? Live streaming can be a great way to connect with your fanbase, provide much needed entertainment, and just lighten the panicked mood a little bit with some music! You can even accept donations while you’re live if you have a PayPal.me link or digital tip jar set up. Just add the link into the comments or post of your stream to allow fans to support you. You can even take requests in exchange for donations. Twitch has a built-in donation feature, but if you don’t already have the gear for it, now may not be the best time to get started. Focus on making the most of what you have. You can do a Facebook or Instagram Live with just your phone. If you are interested in Twitch, you might want to check out this ebook.
No matter where you live stream, remember that connection is key. As a performer it’s up to you to bring people together, talk with the fans who join, and do what you can to spread a little positivity.
Look Into These Free Resources for Freelance Artists
There are a lot of organizations noticing just how hard the coronavirus is hitting the music industry and stepping up with support. Here is an extensive list of resources you can look into if you need assistance because of the current climate. Look into emergency grants and funding for the arts, non-profit organizations who are raising money for creatives out of work because of the coronavirus, and get educated on the laws. There is a lot of help out there for musicians affected by COVID-19.
Use the Time to Start Licensing Your Music
Music licensing is still one of the biggest revenue opportunities in music today. Which is why it’s on our list in this musician’s guide to coronavirus. But actually starting to license your music? That’s a big task! So many musicians put off prepping their tracks and submitting their music for licensing because there’s never enough time.
So if you’re okay financially, this might be the time to dive into your goal of finally starting to license your music.
Music libraries are one of the BEST ways to license your music. And here’s the cool part: you don’t need any connections or even to leave your house to get started. Any genre can get licensed in music libraries and they work with musicians from any level.
To get you started, we’ve put together a few free guides for you.
- Here’s a quick-start checklist that will walk you through prepping your tracks for licensing.
- And this guide will break down exactly how you submit your music to music libraries.
If you follow these guides and put in at least a little work for the next week or two, you will have made a good amount of progress towards your licensing goals.
If you want a little more guidance on music licensing, check out our online training program called Get Your Music Licensed.
Harness Your Music Production Skills and Take Home Studio Clients
No musician’s guide to coronavirus would be complete without talking about working out of your home studio. Producing music at home for corporate clients, other bands and artists, and for YouTube and other digital media can be a solid way to earn income as a musician without leaving your home. With email, file transfer tools, and free video conferencing tools, you can easily take client work without actually meeting people in person.
And what we have found is that no matter how simple or extensive your home studio is… You can produce radio-ready, corporate quality music at home and get paid for doing it. In fact, after going through our music production training most of our students are now producing work for clients with just 6 or so plugins! It all comes down to your ear, developing your confidence and expertise, and developing your business and sales know-how.
If you have the spare time and are looking to use the quarantine as a chance to improve your skills,The Lucrative Home Studio course will help you master the business, technical, and creative secrets of consistently producing professional radio-ready recordings.
This 8 module online training program will take your production chops WAY beyond tracking, mixing and mastering. We’ll help you produce your way to profit and satisfaction by producing music in your home studio. In the course, you’ll learn how to upgrade your EAR with techniques that will save you time and money and set you apart. And you’ll learn how to build or upgrade a home studio to industry standards without wasting money (including room prep, plans, gear, and equipment).
Click here for more free music production secrets to help you produce better music and get more clients.
Plan your Music Career (for when things open up again)
Next in this musician’s guide to coronavirus, we’re going to look inward. The next few months are a perfect time to take a step back and take a hard look at your music career and where you are going to go with it in the future. You NOW HAVE SOME TIME TO PREPARE and PLAN and get your ducks in a row so that you can move forward in music when things open up again.
We created the Music Business Accelerator to help independent musicians create a game plan for success and give you music career and music marketing strategies you can harness and create your dream life in music.
If you want to make it in the music business, you have to create your own success. You need to build a fanbase and revenue streams in order to get the recognition that will propel your forward.
That’s why we pioneered a new approach… To show you how to get fans that will truly appreciate and love your music. And to show you how you can create the music you love and make money. To accelerate your music career and unlock opportunities you never knew you could achieve, like how to promote your music on Instagram.
The Music Business Accelerator will:
- Help you harness your passion for music and build a music career.
- Learn easy and effective ways to promote your music online.
- Demystify the music industry so you can clearly see what you need to do.
- How to get your music on Spotify playlists.
- Help you develop the confidence you need to make career decisions for yourself.
- Show you the steps to make money as a musician.
- Learn how to build a fanbase from scratch with organic music marketing strategies.
- Guide you through a simple process of creating a plan to reach your goals in music..
Check out this simple step by step program to create a strategy for your music and set things in motion.
Learn How to Promote and Market Your Music
And finally in this musician’s guide to coronavirus, we’re going to use this opportunity to show you how to promote and market your music. This is the perfect time to get your act together from a promotion and marketing standpoint. You have streams to promote, remote shows, merchandise, your website, your social media, your email list, and way more. What better time to learn how to promote and market and sharpen your skills and grow your audience.
- The modern strategies for music marketing, branding and promotion that will work best for you.
- Tools to identify and create goals for marketing your music.
- How to build your brand and leverage the power of sponsorships to drive awareness of your music.
- See exactly how to develop and enhance your website and create an electronic press kit (EPK) to attract attention.
- See how to master digital marketing including how to build an email list and create effective communications for your audience.
- How to effectively promote your music on social media and how you can leverage these channels to build your audience on Instagram, YouTube, Facebook and via email.
Get the knowledge to understand marketing and branding and what works for you and your fanbase. Gain the confidence to excel by building alliances with people who can help you grow your audience. See how to sell more music, tickets and merchandise using modern social media techniques. Get more fans = sell more music. Learn how to tap into new revenue streams. Leverage your interests to find real fans and harness momentum. Discover the power of niche marketing and how to find your exact niche. Learn how to differentiate yourself and stand out from the crowd. Tap into like-minded people, sponsorships and causes to find and grow your audience.
Think Outside the Box
You may not be able to perform, but there are other revenue models you could tap into as a musician, and no musician’s guide to coronavirus would be complete without a little creative problem solving.
- Consider taking the time to set up a patronage model. Platforms like Patreon allow fans to directly support the artists they love on a monthly basis. It takes a lot of effort to set up and maintain, but it’s worth looking into.
- Try offering some kind of fun song commissions for your fans. Maybe you could compose short, 30 second to 1 minute jingles for your fans in exchange for a fee.
- Give online music lessons. There are a lot of online lesson platforms you could get set up on, or you could offer lessons directly to your fans.
These options are definitely pretty outside the box, but for the right fanbase, they might be just the thing to get you through this crisis.
Remember to Support Each Other
It’s easy to get caught up in the struggles we’re facing and put up blinders to everything else. But now more than ever it’s important to support your fellow independent musicians in any way you can. Give them a donation if you’re financially stable. If you’re not, there are a lot of other ways you can spread the support among your fellow musicians.
- Share bands and musicians that you love on social media. Give them a shoutout, help them promote streamed concerts, or share their newest album with your fans.
- Put together Spotify playlists with some of your favorite indie musicians and share it on social media.
- Comment on the social media posts of your fellow indie musicians and let them know you still support them.
We are currently offering DISCOUNTS on all of these programs for everyone signed up to our email list. If you are interested in any of these areas, just click below to sign up, get free training and be eligible for the DISCOUNTS we have for you.
Dave Kusek is the founder of New Artist Model, co-author of the Future of Music Book, former CEO of Berklee Online one of the people who brought you MIDI and author of this Working Musicians Guide to Coronavirus.