The ban on public gatherings due to the coronavirus outbreak has hit a lot of sectors hard. One group grappling with how to make a living now is musicians, who rely on live concerts for most of their income. With bars and venues shuttered, some artists are now getting creative about reaching their fans from an appropriate social distance.
“It was just piling on, and it was settling in little by little that this is a very serious problem. This is all of my income for who knows how long, it just vanished,” said Ann Arbor musician Erin Zindle.
As gigs were cancelled, musicians across the country had to quickly shift gears. Many started to livestream concerts online, including Zindle. Her band Erin Zindle and the Ragbirds is hosting livestreamed concerts with a variety of musicians and bands on their Facebook page. They are calling the series Live from the Birdhouse.
Zindle said she was able to pull it together quickly with the help of her band and her crew. While they couldn't hear the audience clapping, she said it was clear that people were enjoying the concert, even from afar.
“I got so much really wonderful feedback from people that I could tell that it really meant a lot to them,” Zindle said. “I felt really connected. It felt very special.”
Stateside put together a Spotify playlist with some of our favorite Michigan musicians to listen to while you're stuck at home. Take a listen!
Elle Lively is the executive director of the Michigan Music Alliance. The group created the Michigan Artist Relief Fund. It's collecting money to help musicians through the next weeks and months of uncertainty. The group hopes to raise a total of $100,000 to distribute to Michigan musicians. Lively said she thinks some kinds of bands might have a harder time transitioning to the kind of livestream platform that Zindle has created, but she hopes everyone can find a niche.
“For the bands that do work off of a crowd almost exclusively and are super high energy, I think we are definitely going to see different kinds of live streaming formats pop up where people can be more involved,” Lively explained. “My heart goes out to them because I know that is part of the joy of performing is being able to connect with the audience face-to-face and it’s hard to replace that feeling.”
Michigan Music Alliance is also planning a virtual music festival later this month called Spread the Music. Aside from online streaming, Lively said fans can help artists by purchasing merchandise like t-shirts and phsyical CDs and records.
In this scary and uncertain time, it's more important than ever for musicians keep doing what they do, Zindle said. She hopes that fans will support the musicians they care about and keep the tradition of live music alive. Fans tuning into the Live From the Bird House concerts have been very generous so far, Zindle said, but musicians might be counting on fans for sustained support for a while.
"We’re gonna need people to be aware that they, maybe for the first time in a brand new way, that they value live music enough to support it now and to keep it happening because otherwise, you know, we’re gonna lose it."
Support for arts and culture coverage comes in part from the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs.
This post was written by Stateside production assistant Catherine Nouhan.