Article by Charles Grace
Every live music venue in the world has temporarily closed. Merchandise sales for musicians that would otherwise be touring, has seized. Welcome to the new 2020: the year of social distancing and virtual tip jars. But artists are resilient. We’re live streaming on Facebook, Instagram, Patreon, pretty much any platform that will do the job. But how we can cut through the noise and really make a difference?
While this pandemic presents its challenges, it also provides us with new opportunities. We are forced to step out of our comfort zones. Artists now have to create the demand; we must remind people why the arts are more valuable now than ever. While people are staying at home, they are craving content to digest. As artists, we have the opportunity to turn our audience into our collaborators.
“By making your audience feel valued now, they will in turn value and invest in what you are creating for the long term, far past this current moment.” – Charles Grace
For songwriters, this could mean calling upon your social media followers for song prompt ideas. Write a song for the unconventional heroes that have come about during this time; the medical professionals, sanitation workers, and food distribution workers. Find ways to shine a light on the people or things that you would not have noticed prior to the slower pace of quarantine life.
My friends and producers, The Sonic Writers (Matt Margallo & Shaun Day) recently hosted a live production session on their Instagram page. They shared a brand new track that was in the process of being mixed and arranged. Matt and Shaun invited musicians and non-musicians to give their thoughts and ask questions.
When artists engage in new relationships with their audience, we eliminate the barrier of social distance. We can close the gap by showing our unfinished drafts and our imperfections. Pay attention to your surroundings. Find ways that you can serve or start something up instead of waiting for the invite when the quarantine is over. Use this time to your advantage by speaking directly into this situation with your craft. Whether it is songwriting, filmmaking, or poetry, there has never been a better time than now to create it — and involve other people in the process! This shares the weight of any potential burden or pressure that we may feel to deliver. Creativity at its best creates community, regardless of the circumstances.
My friend and fellow songwriter in Los Angeles, Jessica Louise made me aware of this unique project called “Alone Together,” which is a collaborative album of independent musicians and artists in self isolation across the world. Each participant is responsible for assembling their team of musicians. Once they have their team, then they have ten days to write and record a song that will be featured on the finished project. Not only does this meet the need for musicians to create together, but they are also using it as a means to give back. A portion of the proceeds are being donated to a COVID-19 relief fund.
Meet people where they are, and they are likely to stay invested. Be transparent. Share the raw, the real, the honest. Establish an emotional connection. Allow this current situation to inspire new ideas, and invite the audience into that process. People are craving a fresh take on this new reality. Allow them the opportunity to contribute their experiences. By making your audience feel valued now, they will in turn value and invest in what you are creating for the long term, far past this current moment.
Article by Charles Grace