We hope everyone is staying safe and healthy during this international crisis. (If for whatever reason you aren’t aware of the seriousness of the situation, head immediately to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention website and learn what you should be doing to protect your health and the health of your loved ones … It is much more important than fretting about the number of YouTube views your last video has or whatever uptown problems we, as musicians, creators and music industry professionals usually dwell on!)
After mulling over whether or not it makes sense to release music during the pandemic and pulling down tour dates for our clients, we have realized that our to-do lists have been very quickly and radically altered. We’re trying to be as proactive as possible adjusting to the new normal and pursuing all of the tasks that have been put off in the past because they are easily interrupted by the constant communication and the frenetic pace of modern business life. It made us think this was a good time to share with you all of the things that our clients and we are looking to get done while our daily lives are disrupted.
Here are several tasks that we have observed are of vital importance but often put off, and others that should be considered to stay current and ensure that this unprecedented situation doesn’t delay your ongoing efforts more than it already has.
To start, let’s talk about live shows. It’s very safe to say that any local shows or tour dates that you had on the books for the next couple months are now gone. It’s important to remember that life will go on eventually and that you will want to be ready for that day when things get back to some semblance of normalcy. As of the writing of this blog post (late March 2020), those we work with are eyeing rescheduling dates starting in late July. This is perhaps optimistic, but for what it’s worth, that’s what we and those we work with have identified as a time that we hope things will be back to normal for live music. (We genuinely hope it happens much sooner.)
If you had something on the books, or even if you didn’t, now is a good time to check in with the agents and promoters you work with. Fair warning: These people are overrun. Ordinarily they would be booking several months out, but now they are trying to cram in all of the rescheduled shows in addition to book new ones during the same time period. See when they are planning on getting back on track sooner rather than later and get some dates together, but give yourself more lead time than you would ordinarily to lock something in. Having extra time to promote can’t hurt, but of course be sensitive to the fact that not everyone is focused on work when promoting so watch your messaging. Now isn’t the time to be overly sales-y.
While waiting for traditional shows to bounce back, now is a good time to pursue live streaming options. We have seen artists gaining traction while people are largely confined to their homes. There are a larger number of musicians pursuing this at the moment than there usually are, so there will be some competition for attention. Still, it’s particularly important during this stressful time to have something personal to share with your audience – like an intimate live performance – to stay connected and keep them engaged. For our clients we are recommending pursuing live streaming on Instagram and YouTube Live. We have seen several artists doing well with Twitch. Bandsintown also recently launched a live streaming feature that can be used by artists with 2,000 or more trackers. You can promote these streams on your socials in the same way as you would promote traditional performances to let people know when you will be going live and capture as much of your audience as possible.
Now is also a great time to revisit all the “housekeeping” items you have been putting off related to your music. If you are like most artists we are in contact with, you are likely a bit behind on some essential tasks. Now is a good time to register your newer material with ASCAP, BMI or SESAC. Your social media banners are likely also in need of a refresh. (For example, no one needs to be reminded to pre-order / pre-save a release that’s already out!) It is also a good time to make sure you are using your most updated photos, logos and other branding items across your website as well as on your social media and streaming profiles. Also, your current bio might be out of date and not reflect all that you have accomplished in the last several weeks, months or even years. And in terms of general maintenance of your online footprint, if you have been putting off registering for Soundexchange or claiming your google knowledge panel – now is a great time to get these tasks in motion.
Lastly (and perhaps most importantly!), now is a great time to write! It is said that Shakespeare wrote King Lear when he was under quarantine. Modern technology also allows co-writing to be done through video conferencing, so if there are other artists you’ve been itching to collaborate with, you’ll likely find some who might have the time and the interest to work with you to create something new.
Stay Healthy everyone!