The COVID-19 pandemic has affected many aspects of our lives; one of the more significant changes is how we access entertainment, from sports to movies to live music. The music industry in particular has taken a severe hit recently. The cancellation of live concerts has caused the industry to lose about half of its primary revenue. Without tours, artists are finding it difficult to share and promote their music. The pandemic has affected the financial security of ensembles and musicians, causing many to face a sharp reduction or complete loss of their income. Ultimately, these ensembles and musicians rely on their audience for their living. So how can we, as fans, support our favorite artists during these times?
Aaron Janse, a violinist in the Minnesota Orchestra, offers his take on the situation.
“For the performing arts industry, it’s been devastating,” Mr. Janse said. “All the theaters and music stores…those are all gone as long as people can’t gather in large congregations. It’s cataclysmic.”
He also agreed with the words of his colleagues, who point out that many people involved in the music industry have been either working without pay or unemployed. Cirque du Soleil, for example, has filed for bankruptcy and cut over 3,000 jobs. Cancelled events, including Coachella, Jazz Festival, and Bonnaroo, may not happen in future years if they are not scheduled for this coming year.
Janse shared some of the ways the Minnesota Orchestra has been responding to the situation.
“[Minnesota Orchestra] has been doing pay cuts, which is still way better than being furloughed,” he noted. “We’re doing streamed concerts [online], socially distanced with masks,” which are accessible on TPT and the Minnesota Orchestra’s website.
“We’re trying to take every opportunity to connect with our community, and I’m very proud of my colleagues, the board, and the audience,”Janse said.
Janse also offered some other ways to support the music industry during this time.
“We have a huge music community that cares passionately about the arts,” he said. “If you know an individual artist or musician, moral support is always welcome.”
He encouraged people to tune in and listen to concerts online as much as possible.
“All aspiring musicians and music lovers, keep practicing your own art and keep your spirits alive. We need everybody to come out the other side of this…stronger, better, and more engaged with each other,” Janse said.
Members of the MHS music community also commented on the ways they’ve been supporting their favorite musicians.
“I’ve definitely been streaming music a lot more,” said Claire Acheson, ‘21. “I know that by streaming, profits go towards musicians. I’ve also been buying a few pieces of merch here and there.”
Aside from streaming music and buying merchandise, Acheson has been watching YouTube videos of musicians because that helps them.
“I have been interacting with the music industry quite a bit,” she added.
Artists have also been posting PayPal and Venmo information on their social media profiles to encourage direct donations.
From buying merchandise to streaming concerts and boosting artists’ overall morale, there are a variety of ways music fans can support their favorite bands and artists. In these times, a little assistance goes a long way.
“[The Twin Cities] is one of the greatest communities in the world for the arts,” Janse said. “We’re going to get through this — together.”