Adapting to Being a DIY Musician Amidst COVID-19
Tired of being stuck at home? We all know that COVID-19 has presented the world with unprecedented challenges, but how can DIY artists adapt to the changing landscape of being professional musicians now that social-distancing has caused live shows and festivals to be canceled possibly through the Fall of 2021?
As more and more people stay glued to their phones and televisions during this time, there are ample opportunities for you to keep your audience engaged, continue to grow your fanbase, and even earn an income.
Here are some ideas to help you stay on your game.
One of the most visible changes we’ve seen recently in the world of musicianship is the increase in livestreaming. While everyone is staying at home, you can still share your music by putting on performances online.
The most frequent medium for this has, of course, been Instagram. But TikTok, Facebook, and YouTube have options to do this as well. Twitch has also become an increasingly important social media platform recently. It’s dedicated entirely to streaming, and millions of new users are flocking to the platform to discover new content and talent. Although Twitch has long been dedicated to the gaming world, it is becoming very popular amongst musicians. Bandsintown even announced a Twitch partnership to help artists with over 2k trackers monetize their streams. Pro Tip: Author of Twitch for Musicians, Karen Allen, shares that you can also gain access to Twitch’s monetization tools by signing up for a SoundCloud Pro account.
If you do find yourself getting into the livestream game, try and get creative and make an event out of it. Put up a fun background of some kind, maybe some LED lights if you have any, wear a costume if it fits your brand – or something completely out of the box. Any way you can make the experience fun and memorable for those watching and listening is a good call.
On another note, make sure your audio quality is good. If you have an audio interface and microphones at home, now is a great time to bust them out and put them to use. Your livestream won’t be that much fun to watch if your audio quality isn’t there. Make sure you take the care to set things up accordingly. IG LIVE presents the biggest challenges for controlling your audio (as we know from the recent Babyface/Teddy Riley Battle), but using streaming software such as OBS can help you get set up for success.
If you find yourself having fun with putting on your own living room show, make it a repeating thing. Repetition and reiteration are always good for your brand. Putting together a consistent schedule, say one or two nights a week on the same day and time, can go a long way and can help build your audience. Being fun is one thing, but being fun and dependable is another. But don’t go too far. Going live every day can work if you switch up the platforms, but viewers can also tire from seeing you pop up in their feed on a daily basis. Strike a balance and leave your audience wanting more. The most important tip is to make sure you engage with your audience via the chat boxes. Let people know that you see them popping in, take requests, and make sure to be yourself and strike an authentic connection if you want them coming back for more.
More information on how to make live streaming work for you can be found in this excellent resource by Cherie Hu.
Expand Your Online Music Presence
How much of your music is online? Of that amount, how much of it is available on every major streaming platform? If you haven’t gotten your online music presence set up to a T – now is a great time to do so. Are all your official releases up on all streaming platforms – Spotify, Apple, Google, Deezer, YouTube, SoundCloud, and more? If not, put them up there. Make sure you’ve linked all your accounts and put the time in to have your presence up to date and looking professional. If your presence on some platforms is stronger than others, take some time to build up your presence, engagement, and following on the ones needing some love so your artist profiles are as strong as possible across the board.
In addition, do you have music you haven’t released yet? The reality is that most musicians have a lot of unfinished ideas and material laying around. Of course, some material is best left in the draft stage, but many musicians find themselves with odds and ends of good material that they just never got around to putting out in the right capacity. Now is a great time to go through your back catalogue and see if there are any gems worth sharing. Maybe some of them just need a little polishing. A move such as putting out a B-sides EP or mixtape during this time can be a great way to engage your fans, expand your catalogue, and keep the momentum going.
Your online presence extends beyond just your music too. Do you have music videos laying around that you haven’t edited? Do you have songs you want to make lyric videos for but just haven’t gotten around to yet? Have you heard a lot about TikTok but haven’t gotten around to figuring out how to use it? Remember that releasing content can be just as important as releasing pure music in this day and age. Using your stay-at-home time to make sure your online presence is as strong as possible can build momentum now and lead to success in the future.
Earn Some Extra Revenue
One thing to note is that there are still ways to have an income as a musician right now outside of your main creative projects. Consider giving lessons over Skype or Zoom – at a time when everyone is home, many are putting energy into focusing on learning music in a way they never have before. You, an accomplished and competent musician, can be a helping part of that process. Consider putting it out there on social media, Craigslist, or to your personal network that you’re available to teach music lessons. Here’s a great resource for those of you interested in teaching music online.
Other websites, such as Fiverr, allow people to do quick music-based gig work. This can be anything from making a jingle to editing audio for someone else’s project. Take a look through Fiverr and see if anything pops up that you could do. SoundBetter is also a place where you can offer your services as a session musician, producer, mixer, etc. to new clients in the industry.
It’s also worth noting that there are relief funds for artists and musicians who are truly struggling financially at this time. A constantly updated list of State-by-State support can be found here, while an industry-wide resource is available here.
Add a Tip Button to Your Spotify & SoundCloud Accounts
Following SoundCloud’s lead, Spotify recently announced the ability to collect tips directly on your artist profile. Now you can add PayPal, Cash, or Venmo links directly to your artist profiles, allowing fans to tip you directly from these streaming platforms.
One of the most obvious things a musician can do during this unprecedented time is to make new music! Whether it’s recording new songs in your home studio, writing new songs, or even just practicing, the ultimate best thing you can do for yourself as a musician is just to play music. Whatever that may look like for you, that’s up to you to decide. Make sure, above all, to take care of yourself and enjoy yourself. Because that’s what really matters.