Here, in the first of a series of advice columns for the business, leading charity Help Musicians UK offers a way forward for artists struggling through this unprecedented time...
We understand that many musicians live a financially precarious life and are never able to build reserves to tide them over when work dries up. If you’re heading towards a personal financial crisis and you’re a professional musician (i.e. a performer, composer/writer/creator, or in a role that requires a high level of musical skill such as mixing/mastering) then check out the Help Musicians website to see how we can help you. www.helpmusicians.org.uk/news/latest-news/advice-relating-to-coronavirus-covid-19
Help Musicians also runs Music Minds Matter, the mental health helpline for the entire music industry. Whatever you do in music, whatever you’re going through right now, contact Music Minds Matter on 0808 802 8008 or email us at MMM@helpmusicians.org.uk for a listening ear. Support is available 24/7.
Apply for Universal Credit (not always easy to navigate, but if you’re entitled to it you should be determined to benefit). Make sure you grab any opportunities around SSP, Local Authority Hardship Funds and the HMRC “Time To Pay” service.
If you’ve joined a membership body (the MU, ISM, Ivors Academy, MPG etc.) plug into their advice and support. We’re all talking to each other right now in order to generate the most helpful and collaborative support, which we are just about to launch on the new domain www.coronamusicians.info
Think through what you can do to make the most of the upcoming months. You might still earn: push online sales (inc. merch) to your fanbase, consider online performances, look at crowdsourcing, teach online, drive streaming (e.g. learn how to utilise Spotify playlists) etc. You might even be able to find funding for a creative project (at Help Musicians we are bringing forward and enlarging the next round of our flagship “Do It Differently” fund – check our twitter feed for more details).
So long as you’re not going under financially, look for ways to grow through this difficult time. For example, take time to create and practice. Choose to learn (e.g. a new technique on your instrument? how to use social media better? how royalties work? etc.). Explore different ways to connect online with your fanbase and the wider community of musicians. Continue enjoying and discovering music (e.g. find inspiration listening to music you wouldn’t normally make time for).
As well as offering crisis support, Help Musicians (and many others) will be signposting to lots of resources that can help you further during this difficult period. Set goals and put aside time each day for your own artistic and business development if you can.
Obviously you need to look after yourself and make sure your head is above water. But music has a massive role to play in carrying this entire nation through the next few months. Social media footage from Italy has shown us how music can joyfully unite those who are isolated. So please do consider what you can do, musically, for your friends and neighbours? Online? It may not put bread on the table, but it will do wonders for your self-esteem and positive mental health to know that you have made a difference supporting others by making music. What sweet harmony! In these dark days let’s support each other and remind the world of the true value of music.