Day 30 of quarantine at home to prevent possible exposure to and spread of Covid-19.
Just a short month ago, my life—much like all my colleagues and friends—changed forever. As I received email after email telling me that the work that I had taken for granted in 2020 was cancelled, I spiraled into a fear-based depression. The way that I make a living was taken from me by a microscopic bug.
My impression (until now) of our business, is that it was unassailable. Nothing could hurt us. Recession? No problem, people come to shows. Terrorist attack… people still come to shows. Stage collapse kills people and injures many others… people still come to shows. But this has brought us to our knees.
Millions of people in every walk of life have been affected by this pandemic, but I am here to talk about the live event industry.
There are thousands of musicians, backline technicians, sound engineers, lighting and video folks, truck drivers, bus drivers—all the people that work in the infrastructure of putting on live events throughout the world—who will not receive any income until there are shows again.
This is the reality of our new normal. How we adjust and adapt will determine our individual and collective futures. Obviously the first order of business is how do we keep ourselves safe medically?
WASH YOUR F*&#ING HANDS AND STAY AT HOME.
Experts tell us that we can beat this by those two easy steps. That’s it. Do it. Don’t say “Oh, this is nothing” and go out. People are dying. By the time all of this is over almost everyone will know someone who has been personally touched by Covid-19 and, even if you never get sick yourself, chances are good that you are going to know someone who surrenders to the disease.
NOW comes the harder part of the health thing. Many—if not most—of us that work in this industry are ALREADY prone to mental conditions like depression, insecurity, fear, economic stress, and angst. Most of us probably feel like the rug has been ripped out from underneath us. The fear that accompanies financial insecurity can be crippling. How do we survive in this new normal?
The experts say honor your feelings, but don’t let them control you. Acknowledge the sadness, fear and anxiety, but don’t get caught in “negative thought loops.” Meditate and be mindful. Studies show that listening to ocean sounds while inner reflecting, taking calming breaths, or doing yoga, lowers the stress hormone by large amounts. Know the facts but limit your news intake. Get out of yourself. Help others in any way you can. Go help your elderly next-door neighbor by offering to go shopping for them and leave their groceries on their door step. Keep a schedule, but mix it up. Change out of those pajama pants. (Guilty as charged). Practice kindness. Connect with your fellow humans. Force yourself to FaceTime and otherwise socially interact with your family and friends, even when you don’t feel like it. Pick up a new skill, and finally – ASK FOR HELP.
I encourage you to think outside the box. We are going to HAVE to figure out ways to survive and, eventually to even thrive. A problem is a chance for you to do your best.
I think that we, in the live sound industry, are in a unique perfect storm. The opportunities afforded to all of us are vast. Sorry broadcast and studio mixers, we are here and we are going to take some work away from you. The way of the near-future is internet-based ventures. I think that we were headed this way anyway, but this has pushed us into the pool without our floaties. Sink or swim. The question becomes, how do we monetize this? We need to feed our families. Everyone is now going to be used to staying at home even after the “all clear” is given. I think that some very innovative ideas can come from the forced quarantine. Eg: What about full concerts broadcast only on the internet? What about using virtual reality technology to make it FEEL like we are at a show? How can we improve the sound quality of internet based audio? (It stinks for the most part, BTW). I don’t have the answers, but there are very smart people who either already have them or are developing them as I type. Lets adapt, overcome, and use this time to come up with better ways for music to help others to feel connected.
This too, shall pass. Eventually we will work again. Despite this hardship, we will carry on. It’s what we do. Let’s face it – we are saving the world by sitting on our asses at home. While we’re at it, let’s try to lift each other up. Let’s take advantage of the time. Let’s not let this beat us.
If you are a musician or an engineer struggling financially or need some addiction recovery, or mental health assistance right now in the USA – here are some links for support. There are many of these organizations like this around the world. These are just a few that come to mind.