The Heartbreaking Cost For Musicians As COVID-19 Stops The Music
As the novel coronavirus continues, the sad reality is that some of our most beloved musicians will be taken from us. Today 86 year old Afro-jazz legend Manu Dibango passed after contracting COVID-19. The 86-year-old Cameroonian, whose best-known hit was “Soul Makossa,” was based in Paris, France, where funerals have now been limited to 20 people to slow the spread of the corona virus.
Those working in the music industry are now facing unprecedented financial disaster due to corona virus, as lock downs are being deployed and tours and concerts canceled. Music data company Viberate revealed today that over 300 festivals have already announced cancellations or postponements, via their tracking website SickFestivals
Our industry has almost ground to a halt,” reveals Olga FitzRoy, the award-winning recording engineer and campaigner who counts Coldplay and the TV shows Dr. Who and The Crown amongst her clients. “The recording industry has been badly affected by the pandemic, and many studios are completely shut down now.” FitzRoy is also an executive director of the Music Producers Guild, the trade body for music producers, remixers, engineers and mastering engineers: “I think people often only see the glamorous side of the music business, forgetting that musicians, studios and engineers usually live at the bottom of the supply chain, and are often living hand-to-mouth with not much in the way of savings.”
The repercussions of COVID-19 are already being felt at every level of the industry. Devotional “kirtan” music performer, TV composer and session guitarist Matt Coldrick, who has worked with Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hahn and Benedict Cumberbatch, has already seen the sudden cancellation of all of his bookings in the next three months. He reveals that there are no apparent solutions to his immediate problem of cash flow, “That’s where I’m scratching my head. In the past, if things got really tough, I’d go busking.”
Jazz singer and burlesque performer Fraulein Frauke and her partner John-Paul Bichard, a photographer and filmmaker, are event organizers in Stockholm. “This crisis has all but wiped us out,” admits Bichard, “Two weeks ago, our whole spring was busy with European bookings and commissions, now wiped, and our two upcoming events that we have invested a lot of time and money into are postponed at best, and possibly cancelled.” Bichard confesses that they are struggling to stay afloat on their freelancers cash flow. “We live frugally under normal circumstances, but now we have had to cut everything to the bone and we are playing a waiting game. We see our buffer disappearing weekly and need to invest in order to get the next events back up and running, and make it through to the Autumn when our next chunk of contracts kick in. It’s like a horrible game of poker.”
Rick Finlay, an experienced drummer, teacher and gig organizer comments, “My income is normally made up of a mixture of live performance work, recording, teaching as well as running a regular jazz venue where we provide employment for many musicians; all of these sources of income have dried up.”
The COVID-19 lock down represents an almost total collapse of the most meaningful revenue streams for many musicians and other professionals working in the business.
Here are some resources for business and music making: