Listen to the audio version of this blog on my podcast:
First of all, my heart goes out to all of you that have been impacted by the Covid-19 situation. A lot of musicians, particularly performing musicians have been hit particularly hard and have had months of events cancelled. So, if you’re in that category I feel for you.
I don’t make a significant portion of my income from performing these days, but I was in the midst of performing in the Caribbean when all this started and have lost several weeks worth of gigs as a result. It was really bad timing for me because I was experiencing a real rejuvenated passion for performing again and was busier performing live than I have been in a long time when this whole situation took a turn for the worse.
But, in this post I want to discuss ways we can all make the most out of this strange situation we find ourselves in and make a little lemonade out of the big bowl of lemons we’ve been abruptly served. None of us can entirely control the circumstances we find ourselves in, but we can always control how we respond. This entire situation is a great reminder of that fact. I really would love to go back to several weeks ago when I was out playing gigs, rehearsing with my band and going about my day to day life doing all the things so many of us take for granted.
But, here we are and to be honest, there’s something about the entire situation that I find oddly inspiring. Don’t get me wrong, it sucks on one level. But there’s also something about the intensity of the situation and just how much things have changed in such a short period of time that I find awe inspiring.
Like I said, I was in the Caribbean playing gigs when all this unfolded and my flight back to Chicago which was scheduled for the 21st of this month, was cancelled at the last minute due to the Covid-19 situation. I have another flight back to the States that is scheduled for the 31st, but there’s no guarantee that it will leave, as things are changing day by day and no one seems to know exactly what’s going on. The US Embassy is closed due to The Corona Virus, the Airlines seem as clueless as everyone else if and when you can get through to them at all, and no one seems to really know exactly what’s going on. I have surrendered to the fact that this is out of my hands at this point.
So here I am, for the moment stuck in the Caribbean, not entirely sure when I’ll be going back to Chicago. And before you think oh cry me a river, you’re trapped in paradise, it could be a lot worse. Well, it's not as ideal as it sounds. Pretty much everything is closed, with the exception of supermarkets and pharmacies. There are long lines to buy food as only a handful of people can go in at a time. The streets are eerily empty. Most people that you see are walking around with masks on. The only place that seems somewhat normal are the beaches where you still see a few kite surfers that have remained and seems to be the only place where the expats that are still here quasi-socialize, with a healthy amount of social distance and fresh Caribbean air between them.
So, I’m more or less on lock down and with the exception of my daily walk on the beach and my bi-weekly trips to the supermarket, I’m spending most of my time in a little apartment I’m renting here with my girlfriend, across the street from the beach. There’s an 8 PM curfew, so everyone is required inside from 8 PM to 6 AM. Not that there is really anything to do outside anyway.
That’s my situation. It’s taken me a few days to adapt to the unfolding situation, but like I said, I’m now finding the experience strangely inspiring. I’ve already come up with some really productive ways to pass the time and make the most out of this experience, however long it lasts and wherever I am.
Here’s a list of things I’m doing or will soon be doing to fill the extra time inside, stay inspired and make the most out of this situation:
Write New Music - This one is a no-brainer, but if you’re a writer and/or composer now is a great time to write and record more music. What I've heard from all of my contacts in the licensing industry that I’ve been in touch with the last few weeks, the licensing industry is moving forward relatively unscathed for now. Content is still being curated, shows are still being scheduled and strategized, music is still being created and supervisors are still looking for music. Some productions will definitely be affected in the short term, but I’m still getting requests for music almost daily for ongoing projects.
Regardless of what happens going forward, now is a great time to beef up your catalog, finish your tracks that are unfinished, write and record new music and keep moving forward as a writer/composer. Writing music is a fairly solitary endeavor anyway, so in many ways now is a really ideal time to be a songwriter/composer and many of us are probably already used to spending a fair amount of time alone working on our craft.
Post Music Online - Like I said, I’ve found this whole situation strangely invigorating and I’ve actually decided to write, record and post a new song on Facebook every day throughout this ordeal, inspired by the whole experience (see below).
In many ways now is perhaps the best time we’ve ever lived through to be posting and sharing music online, because there are way more people online with a lot more time to kill than ever before. I’m finding that people are really receptive to checking out music right now. Plus, people need music and connection at the moment, and since many of us are locked inside, I don’t think there’s been a better time to express yourself and share your music with the world. My plan, like I said, is to write a song a day, for however long this lasts and then at the end of all this, take the ones that have been best received and package them together into an official release for Spotify, Bandcamp, etc.
Practice – Now is a great time to practice your instrument or instruments. I’m spending at least an hour or two playing guitar each day. I play a lot in general, but when things are “normal” I tend to go through spurts of practicing where I’ll practice a lot for a few weeks and then something will inevitably come along and rob my attention and push my practicing to the back-burner, whether it’s a new business project, my social life, etc.. But now, however long this lasts, I’ll have an extended period of time to focus on all those new licks and songs I’ve been wanting to learn.
Live Streaming – I’ve seen a ton of musicians live streaming the past week or so. It’s been really cool to see so many musicians I know playing music online and getting their fans and friends to rally around them. Many musicians are asking for donations, linking to where people can buy their music and support them. Again, with so many people stuck inside and going online, now is an amazing time to get your music out to a larger, more receptive audience online. I haven’t started doing this yet, but my band and I are trying to figure out how we can live stream together, while still adhering to safe social distancing guidelines and plan to do something soon.
Sell Music Online - Bandcamp had their single biggest day of sales last Friday, when they waived all their fees for musicians for a period of 24 hours. Again, people are online and they’re receptive. I also think people in general are very empathetic right now. They understand we’re all in this together and are willing to help in any way they can. So, if you have music online for sale, now is a great time to put together special bundles and promotions for your fans. Let people know if you’ve been affected by the Covid-19 situation. Tell people how they can help and support you. They won’t know if you don’t tell them.
Podcasting – This whole thing has actually motivated me to re-launch my podcast. I haven’t done an episode for a few months, for a variety of reasons which I’ll explain in more detail in the future, but I’m really feeling inspired now to stay connected as best as possible to the outside world and help my fellow musicians out in any way I can during this time. I have some great new ideas on how to do that via my podcast and blog, which I will be exploring in the near future.
Meditation / Reflection / Awareness – Finally, this one isn’t exactly related to music per se, but many people, myself included, have noticed and mentioned there is a spiritual component to all of this. It’s hard to put into words, but I certainly feel like something is different, apart from the obvious. Maybe it’s the result of our lives being disrupted so much, in such a short period of time. Or maybe it’s because in a sense we’re all being forced to take a step back, slow down and reflect. Whatever it is, I feel it, as have many people I’ve spoken to and I think it’s contributed to the sense of inspiration I’ve derived from all of this. It sort of feels like this is one of those very significant cultural moments where we need to collectively come together and raise our frequency. I realize I sound a bit like a hippie here, but, well, so be it.
Surrender – And finally, also not directly related to music, but I feel like this is one of those events, so big, and so clearly out of our individual control, that ultimately there’s not much we can really do but take a deep breath, relax and surrender. I think one of the reasons I’m feeling more and more relaxed, after a few pretty stressful days, is that I realize this whole thing is out of my hands. All I can do is do the best to focus on the things I can control, one day at a time. For me that involves staying healthy, staying calm, making and sharing my music, keeping my girlfriend and dog safe, and getting a good night’s sleep.
Everything else is out of my hands. In the meantime, the birds are singing outside my window and I’ve never heard them this loud and this happy. Maybe I just wasn’t paying attention before.
Like I said, I’m writing and recording one new song a day, however long this whole Covid 19 / Lock down situation lasts. These are all very sparse productions, using one mic and one or two takes, guitar and vocals. My idea is just to focus on writing and connecting with people for now. At some point I’ll go back and pick the strongest songs and record them and release them “properly”.
You can check out my first Covid-19 / Lockdown inspired track, “A Couple Months Ago” here: