How bands can stay productive during COVID-19

As of yesterday those working in the Australian music industry have lost around $25 million dollars as a result of cancelled events. 84,000 jobs have been impacted and over 10,000 events have been cancelled. These stats come from ilostmygig.net.au and you can also notify them if you have been impacted by these latest world events. If you are struggling please contact Support Act or Lifeline.

Working in the music industry myself, I am starting to see these impacts too. On Friday we had to stay back to send out messaging to patrons that our concert scheduled for tomorrow would be postponed, as it will be a gathering of over 500 people. 

Currently, my job is not on the line and being an established Australian organisation I hope we survive this daunting and uncertain period, but I know the same cannot be said for those who work at smaller organisations, freelance and contract workers or those who are touring musicians and crew.

I grew up seeing how hard it can be to make a living in the Australian music industry and the stresses it can cause in a family and that’s when there are no added impacts beyond our control such as COVID-19 affecting your ability to earn an income from what you do best.

Anyone who knows me well, knows that I try my best to look at the positive in every situation, and that’s what I’m here to do for you too.

I have put together a list of productive ideas for you to consider during this down time some of you may be faced with. These are just some conversation starters for you and your band, and hopefully some of these will give you a light bulb moment of things you can do until touring can safely resume.

Write a plan
Use this time to sit down and write a plan. Whether it’s a business plan for your small business, a marketing plan, a content schedule, touring strategy or a budget. Sit down and write out how you’re going to spend this time to keep things productive and what you’ll do need to do and organise when it’s safe to tour again. 

Research
Been looking at new gear, need a new merchandise supplier or maybe you want to learn the business side of music? The internet is full of free resources, blogs and courses online to help you if you don’t know where to start. 

I’ve got a lot of older blogs on here about marketing, writing content and how to best use Facebook, Instagram and YouTube for bands. While some of the info might be slightly outdated the principles still apply, so check them out and drop me a line with any questions!

Produce content
This one’s obvious, you’re a creative bunch! Write new music, finish that album, post content and interact with your fans on social media. Record some new behind the scenes videos, play acoustic versions of your songs or work on an awesome cover and post it on YouTube. 

Got a Patreon page that needs some love? Give your fans some exclusive content, you just need your phone. Show them your gear, break down your music into sections so fans can learn how to play it, have a live Q&A session, tell them the story of how you met or toured with your idols!

Sit down and archive some of your tour or recording memories and share any unreleased footage, photos or demos online with your fans.

Live stream a concert! Code Orange recently did that and you can read about it here.

Sell, sell, sell!
Now is a good time to look at your web store or set one up if you don’t have one! Big Cartel offers affordable packages for those in creative industries and their website is pretty easy to use. There’s plenty of other options out there too, so do your research and see what’s best for you.

Design and produce some exclusive new merchandise and sell them as pre-orders so you know quantities, sizes and can pay for printing so you’re not out of pocket.

Get into the garage and find any old tour merchandise that didn’t sell and list it online. Got any old CDs or tour posters? Sign them and sell them online.

Promote yourself online! Encourage fans to watch and share your YouTube content, sign up to your Patreon page or listen to you on Spotify to increase revenue streams. I know some (ok, most) of these services severely under pay musicians, but try to look at it as a way of engaging with new and potential fans who will come out and support you when touring resumes.

Do some Q&A’s or interviews with online magazines to build your profile. These are the guys who support you the most with album and concert reviews and sharing it to their networks – so give back with some exclusives!

Offer lessons via skype or mentor bands who are looking for guidance. 

Learn something new
Facebook blueprint offers free courses to teach you marketing skills and how to advertise with them effectively.

Google Ads Academy also offers free online training for analytics, adwords, YouTube and more.

Start a podcast or blog. Andy Dowling of the band Lord has created an 11 part series on the basics of podcasting.

Learn a new instrument or how to sing! Again, plenty of free resources online.

Get tour fit
There’s lots of research out there suggesting that exercise can help with depression and anxiety. So staying both physically and mentally fit can help in these stressful times. For me personally it helps with creativity too. I came up with all of these ideas while I was at the gym. 

Got an old exercise bike or weight set rusting in the garage? Get it out and start using it!

This also applies to practicing too, keep up your daily habits of practicing your music, even if you’re stressed and not feeling up to it, your future self will thank you.

Final notes…
I know that staying creative, productive and positive can be hard to do when you’re worried about money or are feeling depressed, but trust me on this one, DON’T STOP!

Kindly force yourself if necessary and set achievable daily and weekly goals to try and stay positive. Check in with your band members, fellow musicians, friends, family and fans to make sure they’re doing OK too.

I am here to help where I can. If you’ve got an idea that you need to bounce off someone drop me an email at metalmarketingmanager@gmail.com or message me on Facebook.

I’ll do my best where possible to make myself available in the evenings to respond to any messages. 

Stay safe out there and support each other! Music has saved so many lives and together we can get through this. mm