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Understanding Your Value as a Musician: Making The Most of Working From Home

Musician Sherika Sherard talks to us about her lockdown experience, from her last day of busking, to slowly finding her rhythm from home and the things that she’s learnt along the way.

Published: 02 July 2020 | 12:00 AM Updated: 28 April 2021 | 4:31 PM
Sherika at home with music equipment
“I strongly believe that because my followers were able to connect with me on a more personal level, it allowed my live performances to be welcomed into their lockdown schedules more naturally.”

When we finally went into lockdown everything seemed felt so surreal that I was still in denial. A few weeks prior, I mocked my mother who had been taking Corona seriously since December and had already bought all the masks and sanitiser she needed.

On Friday 13 March I had a busking slot booked at London Bridge. On my way the train was completely empty, so to stay optimistic I classed it as a first class experience, but then the first cancellation came in, a pretty hefty amount, but I shrugged it off and thought at least I can busk.

The busk was great, people were in a great mood, and I had made more money than my usual Friday night takings. My mum, who of course had previously advised me not to go busking, soon found out through social media and called to express her concerns. I am asthmatic, my dad and her are both in their mid to late 60’s and above everything else, more and more people were becoming ill. I had no excuse, and finally decided to put my busking sessions on hold.

Finding my natural rhythm

It took me a while for me to find my natural rhythm during lockdown and I still lose it from time to time. When everyone was jumping onto Instagram and Facebook to do live sets I held back for bit. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed most of them and my whole career has been built from just setting up (in public), singing and hoping the tips roll in, however doing this through the black mirror just didn’t sit right with me.

I decided to do an Instagram live just sitting on the sofa with my partner. Doesn’t sound very creative I know, it wasn’t, however I just wanted to genuinely connect with followers, to sit and awkwardly wait for what they wanted to ask or share. I wanted to know how they felt about the uncertainty, I wanted them to know that I also had been sitting around finally admitting that it was never due to a lack of time why I never did certain things.

I strongly believe that because my followers were able to connect with me on a more personal level, it allowed my live performances to be welcomed into their lockdown schedules more naturally. In fact, the month prior I had sent out appreciation packages out to my mailing list in an attempt to apologise and revive our relationship, so it felt like the perfect time to give them my sole attention before performing for them.

When the live performances did take place I made sure I spent a good amount of time between each song, sparking conversations and interacting with comments. This was a lot easier to do compared to performing at a shows, because there was no strict time limit and I knew my music was in the comfort of my listeners homes which allowed the conversations to consistently flow.

Understanding your value as a musician is so important

So far I have done three of my own live shows and took part in five other online events (co-working spaces, yoga classes and streaming festivals) and even though 80% of them were able to cover double the MU National Gig Rate, I was still unable to cover my usual corporate client gigs. Therefore it was important for me to use the interaction being generated on my account to create more content which would not only maintain my relationship with existing followers but also showcase myself as a personality/brand worth collaborating with.

By using hashtags and competing with paid challenges online I was soon able to receive paid work from Jaegermeister and Four Pillars Gin, providing content on how their products have become a part of my evening quarantine plans. I was also able to incorporate my music as they were solely focusing on creatives during lockdown.

A lot of creatives make the mistake of assuming companies only want creators with a huge following but really they just want someone consistent with good content, especially at a time where platforms are becoming overly saturated, they want someone with a niche.

I cannot wait to start performing regularly in public again. My next booking will be at the re-opening of Selfridges and I honestly couldn’t be more prepared. But if there’s anything I’ve learnt during this pandemic, it’s that understanding your value as a musician is so important. Yes, being able to perform is great part of the job, but knowing why people decide to listen to you is what allows you to create a business.

Find out more about Sherika Sherard and her music by following her on Instagram and Facebook, or checking out her website.

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Exterior of the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama. Cardiff

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