“As governments across Canada and the world increasingly shift their focus to recovery, this data from Abacus underscores the precarious position of the live music ecosystem – an ecosystem upon which artists rely for a significant, and in some cases predominant, portion of their livelihood,” said Graham Henderson, President and CEO of Music Canada, a non-profit trade organization representing major record companies in Canada.
With the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s been difficult to do much of anything. This includes making a living. It’s harder for those that rely on groups and in-person connection. As the pandemic continues, it shows the industries that are more vulnerable and susceptible. The Music industry is being hit hard during the pandemic.
“So many artists live so close to the bone. We’re really seeing just how vulnerable our artists are in a community. I think a lot of a lot of people are panicked and that’s really affecting any kind of validity to do anything meaningful to the creativity. So yeah, just overall this is definitely sort of a real cloud of anxiety,” Explains Miranda Mulholland, Artist and Chair of Music Canada’s Advisory Council.
The financial issues within the music industry are not confined to the music industry. Henderson explains that many different businesses within the economy that are boosted by the arts and by the music industry itself.
“It was amazing how it was like a village that travelled and relied on them. The managers, the managers, staff. In the touring of the artist and the putting out of the records, it was like an engine that kind of powered everything. It’s hitting a really broad cross-section of the economy,” he explains.
Artists like Cody Blakey; a local recording engineer, Leshan Masikonte; of Melafrique, and Phillip Rodda of Medical Pilot are all feeling the financial burdens.
“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.”
“Covid-19 was really tough and most of us lost a significant amount of opportunities and although we are okay for now, we are not sure what the future holds,” continues Masikonte.
Live performances make a huge part of a musician’s income. Music Canada commissioned Abacus Data to survey and find the impacts of COVID on the music industry. Abacus data is showing us that there is a lot of stress from music lovers which directly impacts the musicians they listen to. The majority of respondents feel as if the music industry will be out of commission for 6 months or more, even after physical distancing restrictions are lifted. This doesn’t bode well for musicians that are out of their main work. Although it’s the main source of income, live music isn’t the only way for an artist to make a living.
“Artists now are doing a lot of live streams and more are beginning to do Curbside performances. Artists are also getting money from streams of their music. Another avenue is government-sponsored events, and community development projects as well,” comments Masikonte, “Merchandise is one of the best streams of income for a musician. However, most upcoming musicians sell at their shows. For online sales, it’s been harder for people to buy merchandise because of a lack of personal connection, and everyone is struggling financially.”
With the limiting of the economy as a whole, it’s difficult to simulate things that aren’t essentials such as food, shelter, health, and so on. Government supports such as CERB, CESB, as well as Grants and bursaries, are available for musicians.
Read more about the financial aid for musicians here.
There are government supports but it may not be enough, says Angeles Joselito who owns and operates Apollo Entertainment Company, “CERB is a good start but it is not enough to help a musician with advancing their career,” admits Joselito.
“Unfortunately, it’s clear that the pandemic will cause serious and possibly irreparable harm to Canada’s artists, the majority of whom were already living in a precarious state. We must continue to think about how we can help them through this as they’ve been here for all of us in this crisis,” said Mulholland.
This is a stressful time but many musicians still have hope for the music industry to bounce back after the pandemic.
“We see it coming back with a bang however, the live stream industry is going to be seeing a spike in live music performances. That is, people have begun to adapt to the live stream culture, and now it may become an alternative to live shows,” comments Masikonte.
“The demand, however, will always be there. So no matter how long it takes to come back there’s going to be a lot of antsy people sitting at home waiting for the first opportunity to see a show. I know I’m one of them!” Says Rodda, though he admits that it may not come back the same industry as we’ve known it before.
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