What Should Musicians Do Once Lockdown is Over?

Today’s guest post comes from Kore Studios, a London-based recording studio that has worked with artists including The Cranberries, Florence and the Machine and Amy Winehouse. Visit the Kore Studios blog for news, articles, and guides for music lovers, as well as professional recording artists.

What Should Musicians Do Once Lockdown Ends?

With lockdown coming to a close, many musicians are optimistic. That being said, with every update there are new questions as to when and where musicians can perform safely or record new music. Since many musicians have seen their career come to an abrupt halt, they may be unsure as to how to pick things up again. In this article, we will be answering the main questions as to when musicians can start performing. We will also cover some of the alternatives to gigging and recording, so musicians can continue to connect with fans and maintain their creative output.

Can Musicians Start Performing Live Again?
The UK Government recently announced the launch of a 5-step roadmap to help performance spaces and venues get back up to speed. This roadmap sets a gradual path towards restrictions being lifted on outdoor and indoor performances, including music, dance, theatre and opera.

While this is certainly promising, venues and musicians must still do all that they can to ensure the safety of both artists and audiences. This includes, but is not limited to, venues running at limited capacity and ticket sales being restricted to online purchases. In the meantime, many festivals originally scheduled for July and August, such as the Edinburgh International Festival, have gone fully digital. As well as this, it is strongly advised that performance spaces are deep cleaned between shows. This will have to be factored into the scheduling of all upcoming sets and gigs. For more tips on how to safely perform post-lockdown, we recommend you take a look at this guide provided by the Incorporated Society of Musicians.

When Can Musicians Go Back into the Studio?
Lockdown has certainly presented musicians with multiple barriers. However, many artists have hopefully taken the time to recharge and reflect, so they can return to the studio armed with new and exciting material. It is yet to be confirmed exactly when artists, musicians and producers can return to the studio – but there is most certainly a light at the end of the tunnel.

Professional recording studios vary in terms of space and facilities, arguably more so than other types of commercial premises. Therefore, the decision to re-open is mostly down to producers, engineers, and studio owners. If you’re a regular at a particular studio, reach out to them to see if and when they will be re-opening.

Being in the studio isn’t just about recording tracks, it’s about having a dedicated space where you can get inspired and hone your sound. Therefore, it’s highly likely that you’re eager to get back into that creative mindset. Upon returning to the studio, there will be new guidelines in place to ensure a safe environment for everyone. The Music Producer’s Guild has created a comprehensive guide to professional music production during COVID-19. Here are some key parts of the guide which are relevant to recording artists, engineers, and producers:

  • Recording hours should ideally be staggered, to minimise face-to-face contact
  • Band members should consider recording tracks one at a time.
  • If band members or recording artists are recording together, they should try to position themselves either back-to-back or side-to-side (rather than face-to-face).
  • Musicians, producers, or songwriters are not required to wear face coverings.

What Alternatives are There to Performing Live or Recording?
We have to bear in mind that while lockdown may have an end point, its impact on the music industry will be long-lasting (some might even say permanent). For instance, many artists have found innovative new ways to release music and cultivate their fanbase. So who’s to say they won’t continue to do so once lockdown is over?

A great example of this is the staggering range of digital channels, including online streaming and social media. Even before lockdown, these platforms have helped musicians connect with their audience. Social media has always given fans an insight into an artists’ life, career, and creative process. However, since lockdown musicians have turned to social media in place of live gigs and touring. In particular, Instagram Live has been a lifeline to new and established artists alike.

Instagram Live offers numerous benefits for both musicians and their fans. Its chat function allows fans an exciting chance to interact with musicians directly, for instance when requesting a particular song. Independent and unsigned artists can also use Instagram Live to encourage their fans to donate on apps such as Venmo, as well as buy merchandise.

Instagram Live can be considered the industry standard. However, there are several alternatives which allow up-and-coming musicians to broadcast to a smaller audience, yet make a more substantial impact. A fantastic example of this is Twitch, a video streaming platform for online gamers. According to Twitch’s Head of Music, Mike Olsen, the channel has had a ‘vibrant music scene’ pre-lockdown. As a result, several industry juggernauts such as Def Jam and Columbia Records have set up dedicated Twitch channels.

Twitch also offers great opportunities for artists to monetise their presence. This includes tiered subscription services and a unique virtual currency called ‘Bits’. Bits are used by fans to buy ‘Cheers’, so they can share celebratory moments and show support for artists. Artists who stream on Twitch will receive a portion of profits earned by purchased Cheers.

Maintaining a consistent income has always been a concern for musicians. But these digital channels should continue to endure way beyond lockdown. It’s also worth mentioning that radio has also seen a resurgence in popularity, somewhat ironically. In fact, there has been a reported 18 per cent increase in listenership across BBC radio stations in the UK. This isn’t to suggest that radio is fully adequate as a revenue stream. However, it can still be a viable option for new artists to gain exposure. There are also many independent stations (not to mention online radio stations) that continue to be on the lookout for hot new artists. To find out more about this, take a look at this guide to getting your song played on the radio.