There is reasonable concern right now about the future of live music and related industries. Clubs and other venues are closing, many people have been laid off, support businesses are shuttering and many musicians and other artists are struggling. More than that, I am doubting that things will return to the normal we knew any time soon--if ever. Also, whatever the new “normal” is will likely look VERY different, and honestly some pieces of this industry may not return or recover at all. We at Big Road are lucky in that, at this time, we have other sources of income, but we are feeling the pinch and have also struggled to make sense of everything and chart a course towards something positive. Because our whole family is in this industry (our youngest son Justin is a live sound and recording engineer, our oldest Shane is a pro player with a record contract in Minneapolis, MN), this is certainly a huge concern and it’s something we talk about a lot. Shane is working on a number of things because, despite his current contract and all of the plans associated with that, he is interested in finding a home in the industry beyond touring. That move was not necessarily COVID-19 driven, but all things connected to this pandemic have certainly influenced that particular focus.
Through many discussions we have decided to focus on a few things. First is building on-line show capabilities including streaming space and gear and other things like YouTube and Twitch channels. The second thing is better recording capabilities and working on finishing a number of projects. Those projects will culminate in some kind of event TBD. We have also reached out to other musicians and friends and are considering some on-line events that can be promoted and generate some excitement and possibly be the seed for some other things. We are conscious that “the scene” will be morphing. Both of my sons have also set up Fiverr accounts and are working at setting up recording services.
Here are a few other thoughts and ideas that have come out of all of this:
● We will survive. Musicians and artists are creative. We will find a way.
● We also need to build TOWARDS something. I don’t think it does anyone any good to lament the losses and pine for the “good old days.” In reality, the “good old days” were not that great for many. Being at the mercy of so many factors out of our control means that being an artist with integrity has been hard under the best of circumstances. We can do better. WE can build better
● Collaboration will be essential. A group of artists with their different bases of support can create something unique and creative. We just need to dream it and take the steps to make it happen. See point #1.
● Online platforms are unpredictable and quirky. Facebook is really not an option for artist streaming anymore, so let’s figure out what COULD work and what the next horizon is.
● The tech to pull off in-place or mobile video or streaming shows is a new world, BUT it is not that difficult and workable equipment and software is not outrageously expensive. Here is maybe where collaboration and barter can come into the picture.
● Competition between artists was always a counterproductive thing anyway. Bands and artists who undercut others, put down other players, etc. ultimately had to deal with the inevitable Karma of their actions (or soon will). PLUS...scenes suffer when this is the norm. It gets boring when a handful of people are the only options out there. We can do better.
● We need to see this all as an opportunity. Artists, venues and connected businesses who understand that MAY be the ones still standing when the “smoke” clears. We have this thing called the internet. It’s crazy cool. And it was not an option in years past. But we have it now. There also may be other ways. Could clubs who are shut down in the winter or at much lower capacity become live stream sites? Could they provide creative packages that include food and drink to customers in or supporting on-line shows? The possibilities are endless.
● Collaboration, barter and partnerships could work in a lot of directions. Struggling venues, clubs and businesses may find a home and new brand connected with this new world. Yup, it isn’t ideal, but it is our current reality. What can we do?
● Time brings opportunity. We are artists. Artists create. We also are masters at creating magic out of challenge. Most great songs have a story. Let’s seize the moment. I mentioned Fiverr, but the available recording technology today, along with the ability to find “studio players,” producers, mixing and mastering help, etc online and even share files and other information can allow us to write, record and distribute our music in a way that couldn’t happen in the recent past. Plus we have time.
● The other thing I am very conscious of is the opportunity this pandemic has provided to have the time to refine my own craft. There are amazing resources available for improving voice and instruments, or really to learn many things connected to music and music gear. This is also another way many artists are keeping themselves afloat. YouTube, Patreon and any number of other resources have many pro level people providing tutorials and assistance to other artists. We live in unique times with unique opportunities.
Lastly, I want to extend to other musicians my willingness to meet and talk about ideas, your unique situation, etc. Contact us through the Big Road website and we would be happy to connect.