10 Things Musicians Can Do During Quarantine
The current pandemic has put the entire music industry on its back foot. When lockdown was introduced tours were cancelled or postponed, all live music came to a sudden halt, and now grassroots venues are in trouble financially. Many of them will not recover.
There's a big question mark over the future of music at the local level which is daunting for all involved, but as musicians we cannot really control the world around us, all we can do is focus on the music itself and our projects (bands, solo artists, etc) the best that we can - but a lot of musicians may not know how to do that if gigging isn't available to them.
To keep your spirits up and your boredom down, we've made a list of 10 things musicians can do during quarantine. Hopefully it will give you some ideas.
Most musicians don't need to be told to play their instrument - they'll do it whenever they can, and use it as a convenient excuse to avoid the dishes at the same time. Hell, some of them won't put their instrument down even when you're talking to them - but playing and rehearsing are not the same thing.
If you're worried about missing out on gigs and not having band practice, then try rehearsing your material on your own. Throw on your recordings and play along, or use live videos if you don't have recordings... hell, just use a metronome app if you need something to play along with. Just rehearse all of your material, make it tighter, and keep your hands active, so when you do return to the stage you come back like a total maverick and not sluggishly like you've just spent two months eating jaffa cakes in your pants whilst watching Tiger King.
Some of us are working a lot through this (we cannot stress enough how thankful we are for all the key workers right now) but some of us have been furloughed from our jobs or have completely lost them during the crisis, so there's a fairly large chunk of us who have a lot of time to kill.
Haven't you always wanted more time to write new songs? You finally have hours to noodle away, write some catchy riffs, bash out ridiculously complicated fills, or pen some personal lyrics - we're all going a little mad, this is probably the best time to write some weird-ass shit. Writing doesn't really work if you feel 'forced', but while rehearsing or generally playing, let some pent up creativity out and make something cool.
3. Online Management / EPKs
Not all musicians are marketing gurus. A lot of that aspect of being a musician these days is confusing and time consuming for those to whom it doesn't come naturally. Now is the perfect time to embrace this more. Don't have a website? Make a free one on something like Wix or Bandcamp to get yourself started. Don't have an EPK? Literally any software where you can make a PDF is a great place to start. It's a good way of pulling together all of the resources you have for your band - or 'brand' in this case - and it also gives you a convenient place to point your potential fans or bookers.
4. Live streaming
For the more solo leaning artists or the main guitarist/vocalists of some bands, doing a stripped back live stream is a great way of staying engaged with your audience. Do it via Instagram, Facebook, YouTube... it doesn't matter really. The main thing is it reminds people that you or your band exist, it gives both you and said audience something to do, and it keeps people engaged with you. In this digital age, the more content the better, and it's relatively easy to access if you have a computer with an okay built-in webcam, or even if you just have a good phone - you can achieve reasonable quality with little effort or knowledge.
5. Learn new music
Outside of practising, rehearsing and writing, there is always stuff you "can't" currently play. Find something hard, something different, and learn some new tricks to add to your arsenal. You can only improve as a player and a performer and there is no better time than now to learn more.
6. Listen to new music
Struggling with inspiration? Feeling bored? Find new stuff. With the amount of playlists and streaming sites available these days, there's no real excuse for not being able to find new music. Even if it's stuff you may have previously dismissed, give it a whirl. Want some starter suggestions? Check out some of the recent reviews we've posted on our site and see what tickles your fancy!
7. Talk to your band mates
It's a really difficult time. Maybe you're struggling during this - it's no secret that musicians are more likely to struggle with mental health problems - but your band mates may also be finding this hard. Have you checked in with them? Maybe a video call to go through what you guys have been doing, talk about the future direction of the band after all this, what project you want to work on next, or maybe ignore the shop talk and just chat as friends - it's good to make sure you all as a group are still okay and have each others' backs.
8. Learn about home recording / record your ideas
It's difficult to spend loads of time writing if you have no means of remembering it later on - for the completely tech-deprived you can at the very least take a quick audio recording on your phone, but if you have an alright laptop and any means of tracking instruments (or you have a spare £100 for a simple audio interface), you can access some free software and teach yourself a simple thing or two about recording. There are plenty of free YouTube tutorials for basic audio engineering techniques, loads of free DAWs available for you to practise with, even if it's just to keep record of ideas and share them with your band.
9. Social media content
As briefly touched on in point three, musicians can't afford to ignore the digital aspect of being an artist in this day and age. Do you have all the relevant social media handles? How often do you post? What is your content about? Does your audience engage with it? Try thinking of the social media arm of your band as more of a business - research some do's and don't's for running social media, create new content (even if it's just some pictures of what you're getting up to, reminders of old shows, gig clips, demo ideas, etc) and start taking this aspect more seriously - it's the only way an audience can interact with you as an artist right now. Make sure you're seen.
10. Research your next project - studio costs, music video costs, etc
Before this all happened - what was going to be your next step as an artist? It's not just performing - were you going to write and record an EP or an album? Were you planning on shooting a new video? Getting promotional shots taken? Whatever the project was, it's likely you'll go back to it when this all calms down. However, while you have the time now, why not do some research to make sure you're getting the most out of your money and time? Look into the different studios or producers you want to work with, weigh up their skills with their costs and your own budget. What ideas did you have for that video? Could they be improved? You can already start storyboarding your ideas without even having a filmmaker on board. Maybe you were going to film it yourself, in which case you have more time to research how you can make that video look as good as it can be. Research photographers or good locations for your promo shots. research PR companies, local promoters, local venues (hopefully they'll still be there when the time comes), research your next steps, so that this time isn't wasted.
Whatever you do, the most important thing is that you take care of yourself. This is a scary time for everyone, so it's okay if you don't have the strength to even pick up your instrument - just listen to yourself and what you need and don't beat yourself up for not doing as much as other people. We're all just trying to figure it out.
You're all rockstars to us.