The conversation about the impact of Covid-19 and it’s context and impact in terms of musicians has been a rather hot topic of conversation. Those in the industry have been impacted as many of us have. The main downfall for musicians and the music industry specifically is finances due to a lack of live performances.
Cody Blakely is a local musician and recording engineer, who has seen the impacts of the pandemic firsthand. As a global pandemic, there are several impacts. From finances to career impact, there’s a lot of aspects that have been altered by COVID-19 and the resulting lockdowns. Below is an interview between Blakely and Dylanna Fisher on switching styles.
What’s your connection to the music industry
I am a local musician and recording engineer. I have recorded anything from local acts to international acts.
How long have you been in the industry?
I have been in the industry as a professional for about 3 years now. Started recording bands in my basement like everyone else, but it eventually grew into a career and an obsession. I’ve been working in a commercial space for about 3 years now.
What changes have you noticed since the start of Covid-19?
A lot of places have been shut down since March. A lot of bands are doing home recordings.
There has been about a 50% loss for projects on my end. I’ve heard of engineers losing even more, or not losing any work at all. The nice thing is that you can still work from home on most things, like mixing on headphones. But it is a different experience than mixing in a studio with professional sound treatment and rooms designed for sound.
I understand though, a lot of musicians are working in the service industry which was the first to shut down in a lot of areas. It’s tough to commit to a project when your main source of income has been gutted.
With a general loss of income, how do musicians make a living?
Well, I can’t speak for others, but I have been able to keep some money coming in from mixing. I am holding up okay. Others haven’t been lucky.
There are some government programs, but I’ve heard some people didn’t get any income for almost 2 months. I’ve seen some bands push their merchandise and records online. Without shows that is really the only way, bands are making any money right now.
I’m also super lucky that I have had bands still want to go through with their projects. I’ve worked with these bands a few times and have been friends for years. A couple of projects I haven’t worked with yet had to bow out for a few months. That makes total sense. I’ve told a few ‘if the recording is going to mean you don’t pay your bills then, let’s just push it back’.
What kind of financial support is there for musicians, that you know of?
From my understanding, musicians can qualify for the CERB benefit, the total is around $1,000 or so. The province is doing something similar, but I haven’t had to look into it quite yet. I believe it is mostly enough to cover the essentials.
Is it enough?
No. I also have no faith in the current provincial government for helping out musicians or venues.I’m by no means a political expert, but it is crazy to me to see local venues that can hold hundreds if not a thousand people for one show have to ask for government support.
Most people that are going to shows or play in bands are not just going to the show and leaving. Restaurants, bars, shopping, etc. All benefit from this. Some of these venues are hosting multiple 500+ people in an event a week. Think about how much of a local economic boost that is, and these places need to ask for money? Unbelievable if you ask me.
In Alberta, I read a statistic that where 5.3 billion is recorded in Albertan arts annually and employs over 60,000 people. We are part of a substantial industry and to get a cold shoulder is insulting. Will this change, I am not the one to say but to ignore the producers and creators of art and entertainment is absolute bullshit.
[Context Check; According to the Alberta Foundation for the Arts, Alberta employs 13,300 artists, and 68,500 cultural workers with over 726,00 throughout Canada].
Why do you think that is?
Oh, boy. That is a big one as I believe there are many factors to this.
A huge part is a remarkable amount of money being spent with absolutely no return by the government of Alberta. I could go on for hours about this topic but the biggest thing I find is people not paying for arts. It is not something you just wake up one day and are incredibly talented.
Do you think it can change?
What can fans do to support musicians during Covid-19?
If you have any spare money, please contact a band directly to ask to buy their merchandise. Don’t go from a streaming service or BandCamp unless they are extremely far. If you message a band and ask to buy their merch they would be over the moon! Every little bit helps.