Artists Respond to COVID-19 Crisis

We are currently living in unprecedented times as the world deals with the COVID-19 pandemic. As it gradually makes its way throughout the United States, it became a reality for Michiganders this past week. Government emergency mandates, school closing, and small businesses becoming affected by patrons being told to social distance themselves.

covid19COVID-19 affects all of our lives and daily routines have been disrupted and how we operate both for work and home have been altered. As more Michigan tests results become public, I feel everyone is trying to do the best possible in managing the situation.

Every industry will be effected by this crisis, some more than others. The performing arts world is such an industry that will now need to learn how to pivot in order to stay alive.

Musicians that make their primary livelihood performing in public are met with cancelling gigs or venues shutting down for the foreseeable future. This type of lost revenue for a musician is difficult to replace as securing these gigs happen months ahead of time.

College and university music students that have been preparing for onsite recitals as part of their final exams are in a state of uncertainty.

Community theatre productions have been cancelled.

Public art gallery showings are being shut down or delayed. The Detroit Institute of Arts has closed during this crisis.

However, even with this crisis right in front of us, I am witnessing the resilience of the arts community, especially in my home state of Michigan. These artists are using their natural creativity that they use to present their art in adapting to this crisis. I have witnessed some great online approaches for performing artisans in Michigan.


Screenshot from a recent online concert that included musician Michael Shimmin

Musicians are hosting free/donation-based live concerts online. It may not increase their revenue, but it does keep musicians relevant and provides great entertainment for those on lock down in their homes. This is especially useful for many of the senior care facilities that are accustomed to live musical entertainment and are not shut off from any visitors. Michigan percussionist Michael Shimmin recently performed a concert on Facebook. “It was a success. Due to PayPal and Venmo donations from people watching, the musicians actually made some money. And we treated it like a real concert. We probably played for 90 minutes” said Shimmin. We should encourage more of this type of activity.

I am noticing many musicians are also moving to an online platform for teaching their students. Certainly this is an area that can be an increased revenue source for any artist that teaches others.

Increased email communications will be important for artists. I am getting more notifications from artists that include more ramped-up e-commerce efforts. Encourage friends and family to support the artists through purchasing of artwork online. Musicians are often found online at Spotify, iTunes and Apple Music. Consider listening to their music online as musicians (albeit very small) do receive royalties for both downloading and listening.

The bottom line is that as we adhere to guidelines we are given from local governments, and health divisions as we maneuver through new waters with this crisis, lets also keep in mind all of the professions and businesses adversely and innocently affected by COVID-19.

Doing our part doesn’t mean abandonment.


This entry was posted in Business of Music, covid19, Gigs, music, Uncategorized and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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