The gigmit Community during the COVID-19 Pandemic
Almost 120,000 users are registered on gigmit. They are all directly or indirectly affected by the pandemic. What do artists experience during the COVID-19 pandemic with its dramatic restrictions? Most musicians who contacted us complain about cancelled gigs. Danilo Martínez Boerr of the Spanish folk-rock band The Moonshine Band lost income of 40 shows that were cancelled after March 2020. “All concerts and projects were cancelled”, reports INES#talent Bernhard Eder from Vienna. “My current income is about 0,0”. Ras Paulo, an Afro-Reggae artist from the Cape Verde Islands, puts it into one word : “Sad“.
Cancelled Gigs & Tight Budgets
Personal fates became visible when reading through the community feedback. For example, Polish musician Jacek Pelc had to adapt his whole lifestyle to the conditions of social distancing: “My way of life is to play live music, which is now impossible. I try to stay healthy. I do walking outside and jogging alone. I practice my instrument alone in my music room. I’ve stopped smoking cigarettes! I changed my music life to composing, writing music charts, searching, and selecting my musical archives, mixing old multitrack audio and video records from my concerts. I cooperate with music magazines writing articles for them. I do continue my autobiography book.” Many artists say that they don’t have the technical equipment of a studio at home. Italian jazz pianist Francesco Corrado says: “I must stay at home. I can’t play, can’t take online lessons, can’t release my album now. That’s a huge price for me.”
“Before this crisis, we had signed up to ten concerts on our new tribute to the group Chic, Nile Rodgers and the artists with whom he collaborated, and all our dates were cancelled. Not postponed, but cancelled! Without any compensation because no insurance takes over the specific conditions linked to COVID-19. To this day we no longer have any visibility. It is a real disaster, both for the financial side and for the recognition side of our new tribute.” (The CHIC Tribute from France)
Dave Slagorsky, promoter and hip hop artist from Tel Aviv has lost his job in nightlife promotion and now earns just enough to pay the rent. “But it’ll be alright :)” he writes.
Although the industry is struggling and “a lot of venues will probably go bankrupt” (Slender Pale from Sweden), it’s amazing and nice to see how positive and hopeful the majority of the gigmit community is reacting – despite these huge losses. We asked what will change after the crisis?
“We are rediscovering the importance of simple things, of our families and giving more importance to the things that really matter. And once we’ll able to stay with other people again, we’ll also rediscover the importance of friendship and community: you don’t really value something till you lose it.” (Piero Strada from Milan)
Captain Boy, INES#talent from Portugal, goes one step further: “I think there will be more love when all of this is over.” Personal relationships now seem to be an important anchor for many. Thanks to various international friendships, Berlin techno DJ Mark Ost has already been invited to gigs in Canada, Russia and the USA in isolation.
British singer-songwriter Loni Lincoln finds the shutdown almost inspiring: “It may change the way we do gigs and also might push us to get some new material out. It’s given me lots of new ideas.”
Digital Tools As Saviours
In addition to aid funds, crowdfunding and individual national initiatives, the gigmit community sees social media, digital tools and the possibility of live streaming as a great help for artists during the COVID-19 pandemic – especially since it offers greater potential for viewers than a small pub gig. “There is so much content on the internet these days, lots of tips and tricks on how to start live-streaming for example. Love all this content”, says DJ Bucky from Belgium. An anonymous user remarks that live streaming could lead to even more musicians playing for free. Therefore many artists rely on using the time to practice and organise:
“First of all, wherever possible, try to rebook your cancelled gigs for another future date. If you are jobless now, compose music, record, and publish your solo online workshops. Or/and maybe try to play with friends via skype, or another net connection. Take your time to practice your instrument, evolve, find new ideas. Search your archives (audio, video, music charts, orchestrations, and whatever possible). Edit them, then remix, mix, produce. Write your music tours/events diary, or a book. Contact your friends from music press, work for them, write articles. I think, now it’s a good time to take all small studio record projects under consideration.” (Jacek Pelc from Poland)
“During this quarantine, I have more time to perfect my lyrics and study my repertoire for the coming Summer. My Music will still be underrated because of the conditions but it will be perfect when it comes to releasing it”, musician Rui Filipe Rafael is optimistic.
Great Hope of Overcoming the Crisis Together
What happens next? All in all, the gigmit community expressed great hope and many believe that together we can overcome the crisis. “Stay home” and “Stay positive” were the most frequently read recommendations for action. Artists, in particular, want to support each other and their local music stores. They want to share other’s music and pay or donate for online events. DJ Mark Ost from Berlin sums up what it’s all about now: “Put your own egos behind you, be solidary, help each other!” And we couldn’t have said it better ourselves than Maarten de Gans from the Dutch band Acting the Maggot:
“Play together using each other’s strengths! gigmit has the possibility to widen our horizon. We got the power to play music. Combining these two seems the most logical way to help each other!” (Maarten de Gans from the Netherlands)
This motivates us to continue what we started long before the crisis. Namely
- to use digital tools to simplify how concerts are organised,
- to diversify the live music industry and
- to take the business previously reserved for a few to the next level for everyone.
We want more time for creative work even after COVID-19 and more artists to be back where they belong: on stage.