Being a Musician During Pandemic

Updated: Jan 6



As I sit writing this, I’m sitting in a parking lot of the Bass Violin Shop in Greensboro, North Carolina. It’s an overcast chilly December day. Yesterday I was picking up a mint-condition Yamaha NU1X electric piano in a sunny and warm Tampa, Florida from a donor to my music studio. All of this is business-related, and yes, that business is music. Believe it or not, the business of music is still relevant and operational in the midst of an economy that is worse than it has been since the Great Depression. Here are a few of my 2020 observations:


Most people focus only on the negatives

I’m not too interested in talking much about the difficulties and the tragedies that musicians worldwide have faced during the last ten months. I’m sure many people reading this know a musician who has had difficulty finding work, gigs, or any music-related employment. Maybe you are one! Things are not looking good for many of the largest musical organizations in the country. Lincoln Center and Broadway among other major players, for example, are all closed for the foreseeable future. This is old information. But just because major musical institutions are struggling, this does not mean that the public desire for musical entertainment or education has waned. In fact, people are seeking out more entertainment than ever before! As people are forced more indoors, attention is forced online. This is good news for us, because it means there is an audience for our music. We simply need to find where the attention is, and create content.


There are more opportunities than you realize. We simply need to find where the attention is and create content. There are tremendous opportunities on social media. Don’t like social media? Neither do I, but honestly it doesn’t matter! Ask any of my friends I really don’t enjoy posting about my life. Instead, I try to make all of my posts relevant to my music; whether I like it or not, musicians must self-promote these days. Either that or hope you’re one of the select and chosen few who get signed to a profitable recording contract. Even then, things don’t always work out as planned since these contracts are on hold. Thankfully, the modern musician has more options! As people are forced more indoors, attention is forced online. This is good news for us because it means there is an audience for our music. We simply need to find where the attention is and create content.



I never set out to be a musical entrepreneur. If you had asked me one year ago what I thought I would be doing at the end of 2020, it would have looked very different from what I am doing right now. The major impetus for me starting Off the Grid Music Studio was a mixture of boredom and the realization that the traditional routes for musical employment were gone, and might not come back for a while. I saw an opportunity to give musicians a chance to receive HD videos and HQ audio for a fraction of the typical >$1000 invoice figure on most professional classical music studios. Beyond this, I saw a chance to put out my own content while the musical organizations ground to a halt.


In the current social media culture, it’s helpful to upload short clips from 15 sec to 1-minute max. or a ton of fancy recording equipment to grow as a musician today. There are tremendous opportunities on social media. Don’t like social media? Neither do I, but honestly it doesn’t matter! Ask any of my friends I really don’t enjoy posting about my life. Instead, I try to make all of my posts relevant to my music; whether I like it or not, musicians must self-promote these days. Either that or hope you’re one of the select and chosen few who get signed to a profitable recording contract. Even then, things don’t always work out as planned since these contracts are on hold. Thankfully, the modern musician has more options!



In the current social media culture, it’s helpful to upload short clips from 15 sec to 1-minute max.

In the current social media culture, it’s helpful to upload short clips from 15 sec to 1 minute max. It usually doesn’t take hours of practice to find 15 seconds of good playing! If you want to post full performances or tutorials then YouTube is still a great option, and you can still take short clips from longer videos and create several shorts out of a longer work. Each platform has its own unique challenges and rewards. Some types of content tend to do better on some platforms than others. For example, TikTok music videos that are trending tend to be either comical or simple tutorials. Trending Instagram music videos tend to focus more on just the music, virtuosity, and even the visual components of the videos. Attention is always shifting though, and what is a popular fad today may be forgotten in a week. This is not necessarily a bad thing, it just means that we need to stay focused on what is resonating with people, and if you open a free creator account, all of the platforms allow you to check all of your stats and see what works and what doesn’t work.

But I’m not good enough to post yet…

Don’t think that you’re good enough to post videos of yourself playing or singing on social media? Think that you need to get better before you start? Nothing could be further from the truth! Go to YouTube and search “one year progress _____” (guitar, piano, voice, whatever). These videos are incredibly popular because people celebrate consistency and progress. It helps to motivate others. Sometimes it is helpful to think of documenting your journey rather than trying to create something new every time you record. Everyone wants to be that person who sticks with it, but very few follow through. Be that person!

Consistency of uploading was a key part of getting more subscribers and students from my own youtube channel. Recently my shift has focused out of necessity to posting more on the Off the Grid Music Studio social media accounts and advertising, but consistent uploads have also proven to be instrumental in helping the studio gain recognition, followers, and customers. Don’t let perfectionism get in the way of your posting. We as classical musicians are always trying to give the perfect performance and make the best recording. The beauty of posting small segments is that if you are only recording fifteen seconds, it is much easier to find an acceptable take than it is trying to record straight through a thirty-minute sonata.



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