Lara Baker has told Music Week that the lockdown has the music business in a tailspin.
Baker, who served for many years at the Association of Independent Music before starting her own consultancy business, moved to Songtrust last year, and took part in our recent wellbeing special issue.
Baker is currently working from home, and praised her colleagues at Songtrust while emphasising the idea that it’s important to bear in mind that productivity levels are different during the coronavirus pandemic.
“We are not going to achieve our usual levels of productivity, and we shouldn’t demand that of ourselves or those that we manage in this unbelievably strange time,” said Baker.
“Health and family have to come first. It’s also important to remember that the person that you’re emailing to chase for that thing might have bigger concerns keeping them occupied.”
Here, we present Baker’s piece in full, as part of our special wellbeing series, which has already featured Universal Music UK’s Morna Cook and Q Prime’s Tara Richardson.
"As starts to new decades go, this one will make the history books for all the wrong reasons. While mere months ago we were ringing in the ’20s, we now find ourselves living in what feels like a real-life Black Mirror episode.
"Covid-19 is impacting all of our lives in countless profound and mundane ways. I have been swinging wildly from worrying about my dad, whose best friend very sadly died of it last weekend, to worrying about the unavailability of grocery delivery slots. Amongst all of this, we are trying to retain some semblance of normal life and to sustain our careers. For many of us in the music industry, our work is far more than a 9 to 5 job. We are used to spending evenings at gigs, travelling to conferences, spending summer weekends at festivals... We live and breathe music and take huge pride in our role within it, so the current lockdown has us in a tailspin.
We need to be kind to ourselves
"Some of us, like myself, are fortunate enough to still be working, and are navigating the strange terrain of being separated from our colleagues, teams and usual collaborators. We are spending countless hours on Zoom and Google Hangouts, trying to keep projects and plans on target, whilst looking after elderly relatives or home-schooling the kids. It blows my mind to see colleagues keeping their kids’ educations on course, making all of their meals and still managing to do their jobs whilst all of this goes on around us. Thankfully, the Songtrust and Downtown leadership has been nothing but empathetic and encouraged all of us to focus on health and family as our top priorities. I know not all employers have been so generous.
"For those of you in the music business who are working through this pandemic, I saw a tweet last week that really resonated. It said, “you are not working from home, you are at your home during a crisis, trying to work”. Thank god for this tweet! I think of it whenever I’m having a day that is not going fully to plan (which is most days at the moment). We need to be kind to ourselves. We are not going to achieve our usual levels of productivity, and we shouldn’t demand that of ourselves (or those that we manage) in this unbelievably strange time. Health and family have to come first. It’s also important to remember that the person that you’re emailing to chase for that thing might have bigger concerns keeping them occupied. We don’t really know what our colleagues and others that we deal with in the course of our work are going through. They might be struggling with the loss of someone they care about, or have financial difficulties, or be trying to juggle work and family, or have health worries to navigate. Communicate with compassion.
Of course, many people in the music industry are unable to work in the current situation. The impact on the live sector is particularly heartbreaking to see. All but one of my friends working in live music have been made redundant or furloughed over the last few weeks, and those who are self employed or freelance are without work for the foreseeable future. When your job suddenly and unexpectedly disappears it’s not just a huge financial worry but a real blow to mental health and personal identity too. A few years ago I experienced redundancy for myself and was really taken aback by the feeling of losing my professional identity. I was no longer ‘Lara from...’ and the career that I had put all of my energy into building felt totally decimated. There was a period during which I didn’t necessarily get dressed each day and self-care and my confidence went out the window.
This is a really tough time to be job hunting or starting a new venture
"If that’s you right now, my best tips would be to start getting dressed (psychologically it really does help), try to get some exercise, and find things that inspire and interest you to keep your mind occupied. It is going to be some time before this passes and our industry recovers so this is a really tough time to be job hunting or starting a new venture, but it is a good time to really think about what you want to do long-term and how you will get there.
"It’s also a good time to form some healthy habits! As someone with a weakened immune system after an illness I had last year, I have been following all the advice on how to strengthen my immune system and give myself the best shot at beating this thing should I get it. That means lots of vitamin C, D and zinc, getting more sleep, healthy eating, regular exercise and cutting down on alcohol. I’m not a healthcare practitioner of course, but there are lots of great articles online on how to strengthen the immune system and I think we should all be talking more about this."
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