As the global pandemic continues to take have a devastating impact, we continue to speak to musicians about their experiences dealing with the effects coronavirus this week…
Dan Whitesides, The Used
When they postponed our upcoming tour announcement, I knew we were in trouble as far as everything shutting down. Once that happened, all of the chips started falling and pretty soon everything was cancelled or postponed indefinitely. As far as the live music scene goes it’s dead for now but I know it will be back hard soon.
On the bright side of music, we’re lucky enough to have iTunes, Spotify, YouTube and so on to get our music fix. I find myself watching prerecorded concerts on YouTube here and there just to feel normal and I have a kit at home that I play everyday.
Also, our band and crew are staying tight. We send push up and or workout messages everyday and just kind of keep a light and chill conversation going throughout. We all just have to try and stay positive and keep on playing, writing and recording.
As far as my home life goes, I have a nine-year-old daughter that I am homeschooling and let me say that it’s a hard thing to do! I don’t know how to be a teacher so I’m learning how to do that and I’m learning how to do her school work as well. I have a whole new appreciation for teachers because it’s a lot of work teaching one child, let alone 25 or more. My wife is also in college so she’s studying online all day as well. My wife and I take online workout classes at home everyday, I think it’s important to stay active and healthy.
My schedule goes something like this as of now: We wake up, get breakfast going and kind of ease in to school from about 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. with a few breaks/walks/outdoor anything and lunch. I play my drums whenever my daughter doesn’t need instruction so I get at least an hour. There’s definitely a little cabin fever going around in our house but we’re managing well. We just try and keep a routine as best we can and keep patience at the top of our minds, although it’s not that easy sometimes.
At times, everyone is going to struggle, but we’re all going to learn a lot about ourselves and others during this time.
The virus is affecting everyone right now in different ways. It’s extremely sad but beautiful to watch people help and support each other in this time.
Remaining creative is really important so I’m still going to do live stream shows, release music, write over Facetime and go back to embroidering merch. I think reminding yourself to have a telescopic view everyday really helps. It’s easy to get overwhelmed and anxiety ridden but I’m trying to focus on doing my part and staying in for a better outcome.
Suzanne Morissette, Mustangs Of The West
I’ve been a professional drummer/percussionist for the past 35+ years. My income is generated by live shows, gigs, teaching, and session work. My husband, a professional musician as well, has been an independent contractor all his life, and works a lot as a solo keyboardist/singer. Both of us have done quite well until now. Our work has come to a halt except for my students whom I can teach online. Definitely not a good time for us. We’re getting set up to start doing online performances and tutorials. Keeping our fingers crossed.
My original band, the Mustangs Of The West, had just received our CDs in the mail from our label Blue Élan Records early in March when the news came up that SXSW was being canceled. One by one, our other dates were being canceled. Our label decided to go ahead with releasing the album as planned, this past Friday, March 27. Will fans and followers be inclined to support the band by purchasing the album and merchandise in these trying times? Our record label organized a Facebook Live album listening party and the interaction was fun and the turnout, much better than we expected. It is still posted and growing in views daily. People want to be entertained, and still need music and laughter during tough times. This may be a good time for a release after all. The weeks and months to come will be challenging for sure, but we are determined to find a way to sustain through social media and the internet, like every musician, whether famous or not. Unfortunately, the internet is not quite cutting-edge enough for playing live together from different locations, but in the meantime videos and writing sessions will be a good way to keep the band connected.
I moved to L.A. in 2018 after living in Nashville for nearly a decade, and have much experience in session work, touring, writing and recording music. I spent many years fronting a popular Nashville rock band, Moseley, and have spent the last year preparing my debut solo album as to not disappoint the lingering fans and friends still listening. You only get one “first” album, and mine (called WHERE) was released March 13.
I went all-in with WHERE. I left my career/job as a personal stylist for a nights-only waitress position at the iconic La Poubelle in Franklin Village to free up the hours within sound ordinance to finish my album, which was mostly recorded in my Hollywood apartment. I sold my means of transportation to help pay for the mixes and masters and skipped no corners there, recruiting the cream of the crop in engineers from Nashville: Eddie Spear (Brandi Carlile, A Star Is Born,) Paul Cossette (Sturgill Simpson, FIDLAR, The Head and the Heart,) and Zack Pancoast (Kasey Musgraves, Billie Eillish, Willie Nelson.) I selected March 13 as the release day, so that the album would be promote-able and performable at SXSW, and planned hometown release shows in both L.A. and Nashville.
I watched the calendar excitedly for March 12, knowing that “midnight in NY” is 9 p.m. in L.A., and that my album would be out that day. March 11 came, with rain. March 12? Rainier still. My eyes felt itchy and my throat felt dry, which is not unusual for my allergies during rare rainy times in Los Angeles, so I went to La Poubelle as planned for what would be my final shift for a while. We opened the restaurant later than usual to allow several hours for the staff to thoroughly bleach the restaurant (during which time we do not make any tips; this had been going on a week already and I watched my pay diminish). We were slower than usual, with news of corona spreading, so we cut the staff in half. The few brave customers who did come in complained that our delayed opening shortened their happy hour; my tips were penalized for their inconvenience. The chef was clearly concerned about my cough. 9 p.m. came, we played the album over the restaurant speakers, and I hurried to do my closing reports so that I could celebrate. I made 1/4 of what I usually made in tips, and therefore could only afford a single glass of champagne to cheers. With great response to my first two singles (which dropped in February,) I still felt hopeful and could not wait to wake up March 13 to read the album reviews.
But there were no reviews; there have still been no reviews. Having paid into a PR campaign that should be in full-swing, I checked my email again and again…but, nothing. My boss asked me stay home with my cough until corona could be eliminated as a possibility, and I spent my album release day trying to find testing. With a fever sitting around 100 (but no higher,) my symptoms were considered non-urgent and it was recommended that I take 15 days in total isolation from other people (today is day 12). With no car now, I have no way of seeing a doctor without exposing myself to public transportation so I opted to stay in. The Strokes show, which was the chosen celebration activity for my album release, was cancelled. Within a few days, La Poubelle was closed entirely (including the event space which was my planned venue for my album’s private release show and party). My trips to Austin and Nashville were of course cancelled, as well. All emails for press were returned with a sense of uncertainty and hiatus as the music journalists were unsure of the future of their own incomes. I let my mix engineer know that it will be a long while before I can pay him back for his work on WHERE. I attempted to apply for unemployment, but since my driver’s license was issued in TN (something I did not consider since I have not been driving), I do not qualify, and I cannot get a CA ID if I cannot leave the house; great.
“This is a great time to make art!” they say! No, this is (supposed to be) a great time to take a break from the non-stop making of art that I have done for the last 6 months to create my album; this is (supposed to be) a great time to enjoy the feeling of “release,” and to get back to having a social life (something I did not allow myself to do during the entire duration of production). But I don’t get to do that. I don’t get to do any of the things I earned by making this album. I don’t get to make merch (how could I afford that without an income?) or play it live with a band as the performance art I had intended it to be. I hoped that the quarantined people at home would take the time to listen to more music, but all reports are showing that music streaming sites are currently suffering across the board and taking a backseat to video streaming sites such as Netflix and Hulu. I noticed that my my instagram posts about the album are getting 1/3 of the “likes” that they were getting a month ago; perhaps it seems insensitive to promote at a time like this, I don’t know. I do know that this is a nightmare, and that re-opening the world does not mean the music industry will bounce back. This will change everything. Musicians usually don’t have just one job, they often work flexible freelance and service jobs to make ends meet, and none of those jobs exist right now; we will be paying off our debts from this month until the end of 2020 (I know I will). Something has got to give. The only work I have at the moment is to score a one minute film, and that won’t even pay for groceries.