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Online and Remote Work for Live Performers

Advice for musicians on live performance careers during disruption from COVID-19

The following ideas may be useful during the disruption caused by COVID-19 to musicians who usually perform live. Although we’ve just given brief details below, you can click through to more detailed blogs written by experts in their particular fields.

The amount of cancelled or rescheduled shows and tours as a result of COVID-19 is devastating - not just for fans, but also for musicians who rely on the revenue, the interaction with their audiences and also the part that their live activities play in the overall make-up of their careers.

Many shows were arranged around releases or showcasing activities, and had been booked strategically as part of musicians managing their ascension as an emerging artist or their sustained career that may have taken years or even decades to build up.

Claim your due royalties

There are some obvious, quick and easy bits of management that artists can use this time to get on top of, including overdue admin.

For example, many artists wait until they’ve done a succession of gigs before they report their dates to PRS in order to claim royalties from the performances. Now’s a good time to submit outstanding set lists and ensure that any opportunity to keep some money coming in is explored.

Whilst it can take a while for these royalties to flow into artists’ accounts, it will no doubt be welcome after a period of non-activity and low earnings.

Try out live streamed performances

Many musicians have tried to replace live shows with streamed performances from their homes, but there’s a lot to consider, including technical set-ups, promotion, security and whether performances can and should be monetised.

For MU member Steve Lawson, live streaming is a more familiar activity and his experiences will be useful to anyone looking to arrange gigs from home. Find out more in his 10 tips on recording and streaming your live show from home.

Use radio to expand your fan base

Whilst venues may be closed for the foreseeable future, there are other platforms available to artists and their music. Radio stations and shows remain a hugely important part of the music industry, both for new and emerging acts, and also for higher profile established artists.

Even if radio play isn’t something that you’ve previously thought important, it’s still a good idea to see what and who is out there, and how you can access opportunities to enable your music to reach new audiences. In addition to any airplay or interest you can pick up, when the doors to venues open again you’ll be thankful of the new fans that you can sell gig tickets to.

Radio producer and presenter, Shell Zenner, has years of experience across radio stations and working with acts at all stages of their career. Shell outlines how and why radio stations and their teams are invaluable to artists and their music - read her 8 tips on using radio to boost your music career from isolation.

Keep connecting with your audience over social media

And of course, one platform that is always open and available is social media. Whilst many musicians are relying on their socials to keep interacting with fans and ensure their music is still heard, who really knows how effective their posts are and who they’re reaching?

At a time when fans and audiences are being kept physically apart, it’s vital that artists engage effectively and meaningfully to keep their careers on track, to support any releases that are having to exist without the gigs and tours that would normally back them up, and to ensure that it’s easy to pick up on their other musical activities post-lockdown.

As Social Media Producer for BBC Radio 6 Music, Sean Adams understands exactly how musicians can create relevant and engaging content to entertain and grow audiences via social media. He explains through these 12 social media tips for musicians and bands during lockdown.

Financial support

If you are struggling financially as a result of COVID-19, check our list of hardship funds for financial grants.

Additionally, some funding bodies and organisations are also offering funding for creative commissions, both relating to quarantine and also for un-related projects. We will continue to keep members updated as we know more.