Like a lot of people, I felt a bit like my world had stopped turning when my state went on lockdown this past March. I remember staring out from my Brooklyn rooftop, taking in the city that I loved but at that moment was essentially off limits to me. However one of the hardest things for me to grapple with, as I’m sure it was for many other musicians and performers, was this feeling that my art and creativity would have to be put on hold.
My band War Honey went into 2020 strong. Within the first week of the year, we put out a 2-track demo that people seemed to really like and received some airplay from a college radio station in Florida. We played some shows that went as well as we could possibly hope for, including that was probably the best show I’ve played in my life (and I’ve played over a hundred at this point). We had some promising gigs coming up that we were extremely excited for, and beginning to think ahead towards booking studio space to record an EP and planning a small DIY-tour for the summer.
Then Covid-19 happened.
As you can imagine, all those plans and hopes fell by the wayside. Like many people over the world, I was worried about the future and crushed by the present. My plans had to all be put on hold and I felt if part of my limited time alive was being stolen from me. However once I began to accept the current situation as my reality my outlook drastically changed.
I thought about what practical things I could still do to reach my goals while sheltering-in-place in my little Brooklyn apartment with limited resources and know-how, and then went about doing those things. And to my surprise, they actually worked. Despite the fact that I couldn’t play gigs or even go outside for non-essential activity, my band’s music began to reach a far larger audience than we ever had before. It’s not as if we suddenly became the breakout stars of the quarantined spring. But the song we released has been doing far better than we expected a song recorded for absolutely no money in an untidy kitchen and self-released without fanfare to be doing.
This article is a guide to what my bandmate and I did to expand our audience during our (at the time of this writing, still on-going) quarantine and stay involved in our music scene, even if at the moment the scene is essentially canceled. Nothing that we did was particularly out there or complicated and can all be done easily enough by anybody with a song to share, no matter where you are in your personal music journey.
Each topic will be discussed here in brief, with an in-depth post on each specific topic forthcoming soon after.
Record At Home
Recording at home was probably the biggest thing we did to stay engaged with our music scene during the shelter-in-place. We didn’t have a recording studio, a professional production background, or even a budget but we managed to get around all of that, so so can you.
The main things that you’ll probably need to record at home include whatever instruments you’d like to use, a computer, a choice software, a microphone or microphones, an audio interface, and possibly a keyboard with MIDI-capabilities.
Everyone’s exact recording needs varying depending on what it is you’re working on. A loud death metal band will probably want a full rig and powerful microphones for each instrument capable of handling large amounts of output, while a rapper may need little more than a single vocal mic and a MIDI-keyboard.
Share Your Recordings
Recording a song is a long process filled with hard work. You should show people what you made! Especially now that there is no live music and many scheduled album releases are getting postponed due to fear of poor sales.
Sharing your recordings can mean lots of different things, from a full-on professional style release roll-out to sending a zip file through email to a few close friends. Sharing your music with people can be vulnerable, is always a little nerve-wracking, and can sometimes even come with a price tag. What’s important is finding the sharing solution that’s right for you at this time.
More professional-leaning platforms to share your music include Spotify, Apple Music, Tidal, Deezer, and iTunes, while more casual, artist-friendly platforms include Bandcamp and Soundcloud. You can find the one or two platforms that are right for you and your goals, or you can release your music to all of these!
Participate In Online Concerts
Without the ability to go out and play live shows, or even the ability to go out and watch them, it can be hard to feel like there’s much of a music scene to be enjoyed right now. Performing both the original and probably best way of having your music reach people, and to many people the ultimate purpose of even playing music.
But even if the doors of your favorite local venue may be closed for the time being, a large number of virtual alternatives have been cropping up in the wake of social distancing. Popular choices for performing online include livestreaming through social media and Zoom performances.
This essentially sums up what I have discovered from trying to stay involved with music and further my own professional goals while dealing with the pandemic and social distancing. Everything discussed here is what worked for me, and I hope that you’re able to find at least something that works for you as well!
NYC Guitar School hosts a weekly virtual open mic every Sunday at 5:30pm. Come show us what you’ve been working on here!
NOTE: This piece is part of a broader article on staying musically active during the current climate of social distancing. You can see the other currently published pieces on the topic by browsing through the “Blogs” section of the NYCGS website.
Looking for a way to stay busy and stay connected to the world while social distancing? Try a 1-on-1 online guitar, bass, ukulele, drum or voice lesson with one of our world class instructors for just $20! Same world class instruction, live from your living room!