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18 Artists on How COVID-19 Is Affecting Their Music Careers

By Brendan Varan on

Sadly, COVID-19 has ravaged the music industry. Streaming is down, tours are on hold, and festivals are canceled. The artist community is hurting, of course, but how, exactly, are creatives dealing with this public health crisis? Rather than speculate, we reached out to a grip of artists, rappers, producers, and singers on Audiomack to get their perspective on staying busy, their financial situations, and everything in between.

How are you staying busy?

KIRBY: My biggest focus is remembering this too shall pass. I know it doesn’t seem like it now, but no pain is forever. We will come out of this more innovative and creative, and the touring market will more than likely have a surge. I also think this serves as a reminder to me to always diversify my income. I’m an artist, I love music, and I love what I do. But as a businesswoman, I know music can’t be my only financial investment.

SADFACETHUGGIN: I’m currently working on my new LP World Is SADFACE. The majority of my time is focused on conceptualizing the direction of the project, writing, listening to a ton of beats, and working out at home.

HDBeenDope: I’ve been making beats, writing raps, playing [video games], watching movies, catching up with homies I haven’t spoken to in a while. Not too much of a difference than normally.

Ceraadi: To stay busy, we’re constantly providing new content through social media outlets like Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok. It is the same routine we’ve been doing before this COVID-19 situation, whether it’s a dance video, a playlist, or content that helps promote our music that’s out now.

What has been the greatest or most sudden change to your music career over the last week?

Rema: Normally, I’m an indoor guy. I only go out when a city needs me onstage. Recently, I’ve had more time to understand the level my mind and grace has taken me to and how to put my behavior, speech, and confidence in accord. Usually, I make music while I’m on the road getting that bag which is fun, but now there’s more chill to it and I can take my time to explore my sound engineering skills.

Victoria La Mala: I had so many cool shows scheduled this month. I was so excited and ready to meet some of my fans in person. I also had to postpone my sixth annual #TeamMalaPromGiveaway, which this year was going to be bicoastal for girls in LA and NYC.

Jesse Royal: Where music is concerned, it keeps flowing. It never stops. We’re still creating, still have all the vibrations, and I still meditate. I guess one disruption would be our U.S. tour has been postponed due to the situation wagwan. But as we say... We have to be proactive in a time like this, so [it’s not] a disappointment to me. In reality, the music, everything is for the benefit, for the upliftment, the enlightenment, and the encouragement [of] the people. So what we’re dealing with right now is for the people first. Touring is secondary to people’s health. It’s a worldwide push and we have to be conscious about the reality of the situation and how we play a part in setting things straight.

Tainy: The greatest change over the past week would be adjusting day-by-day to what’s happening, being aware, making sure family and friends are doing good. But career or music-wise, not going to the studio and having to work from my setup at home has been a bit of a change from my usual day-to-day. I'm staying focused and creating little by little, got a lot of plans moving forward, so this gives me a chance to go into detail and properly plan for what’s next.

KIRBY: The greatest change for me over the last week has been not being able to perform. That’s been a big disappointment. Music is not only a source of income, like many, it’s one of my lifelines. It keeps me going! Not knowing when I’ll be able to be in a studio with my band or sing to a live crowd again is disheartening. But, rather than staying in that place, my team and I are thinking of innovative ways to foster community while still protecting everyone’s safety and health.

SADFACETHUGGIN: Collaborating with my team has been impacted drastically. My lead engineer works in the service industry. With restaurants in the Dallas area being shut down, that’s posed issues with aligning schedules due to social spacing and ensuring the safety of himself as well as his family. This has innately presented issues financially for each of us as well. As far as visuals, we were in the middle of executing several music videos. Those have essentially been placed on hold. We’ve had to go back to the drawing board and be more creative. As opposed to typical visuals, we are now working on illustrated/animated videos and lyrical videos.

The cancellation of SXSW was HUGE, not just for myself, but [for] thousands of musicians. This year was shaping up to be a pivotal moment in my career with several huge showcases. Of course, that’s an opportunity lost.

How has coronavirus and the world’s response to the virus affected your creativity? Your drive? Your desire to make new music?

Rema: My drive never dies. Every situation provides a distinctive raw energy. All that matters is what I refine it to and so far, it’s been prayers and good vibes out here. My only worries are my fans, friends, and family; I always have them in my prayers and I don’t want to lose anyone who’s part of my journey. I want everyone to hang in there. God got us.

Mavi: N***s is being full weirdos. At a scale that feels nearly spiritual. Being awe-struck by humanity beyond its own bounds is such a major part of being born in 1999, but even within the context of childhood crises, seeing humanity grapple with its biological footholds to this grand experiment, to see fear in the world’s eye, makes your heart beat fast.

G Perico: The whole virus has brung me to the realization that I need to go hard as possible with everything, be creative as possible, and don’t hold back because life could change in the blink of an eye. So, my hunger for greatness is on a trillion.

Casanova: You know I’m always screaming, “I’m outside!" So to be inside is eating me alive, but it’s motivating me more because now I see how much more I can be doing. When this is all over I’m trying to shoot a video every week if I can. let’s just pray for this situation to be over soon for real and let’s pray for all the people and families affected by this.

JAHMED: The coronavirus has been quite impactful. I had a slot on the SXSW lineup but unfortunately, I didn’t make a debut due to the virus and them pulling the entire festival. Hearing about SXSW for the majority of my life, it was one of those “I made it here” moments. Also, I had to postpone my release party for my album THEBOOFMOBILE, but eventually, that will still happen, so it’s not as bad. [As] far as creativity, it’s not that big of an obstacle. I’m constantly bouncing ideas or coming up with song concepts even if I’m not in front of a mic or in a studio.

Angelica Vila: It’s taken a negative effect because it prevents me from traveling and moving around how I usually do. However, when I look on the bright side, I’m taking advantage of this time to focus on the parts of me I want to personally work on. I do yoga at home when I’m bored, at-home workouts since I can’t go to the gym, or cook when I’m not working on myself or music. This quarantine has motivated me to turn my thoughts into things, the law of attraction.

HDBeenDope: Since a lot of people are at home scrolling their feeds all day, it makes me want to take advantage of all the potential eyes, but also remaining myself amidst everything going on. It’s easy to do some shit you’d normally never do just because you are bored and looking for something to do. As far as drive, it’s ramped up because, in times of disparity, it’s important to make the best out of the moment.

What is your primary focus right now?

Rema: Creating more music, having more quiet time to observe the industry from afar. I’ve been more laid back, understanding a few key codes and finding the perfect balance to my distinctive sound; how I explore genres and my next strike. Also, thinking of non-controversial strategies to promote my new songs, still recognizing the fact that fans are worried about what’s happening in the world right now and I don’t want to act like I don’t care.

Victoria La Mala: This is a great time for all of us to reflect on our lives, to rest and refocus, to finally have the time to do/learn/create things we haven’t had time for. It’s important we stay at home.

Jesse Royal: Well my biggest focus right now is just staying healthy, staying out of harm’s way, keeping all of I and I’s friends and family aware, up to date on the current situation. As well as remaining grounded, not letting fear take control of I and I… There’s been many situations on Earth and there will be many more situations on Earth.

SADFACETHUGGIN: I am focusing on making the best music in my life while also getting in the best shape of my life. I’m also really focusing on fan engagement by being proactive and more intentional about connecting with fans online through IG live, DM’s, etc. It’s important to leverage this time as I know fans have more free time and connecting with them will also improve morale.

When this is all over with, I want to be able to look at this as a blessing in disguise. This coronavirus situation has made me seriously analyze where I am, where I want to be, what it will take to get there, and how quickly things can change.

OnCue: My biggest focus hasn't really changed this year. Before 2020 got going, I stacked up about an album's worth of material and I've been releasing a single with a video every two weeks. I'm writing the records, editing the music videos, and doing the single art myself, so I've been extremely busy. With that being said, I've forgone touring opportunities to do this rollout plan.

Ceraadi: Our biggest focus is to entertain and provide our supporters with content that’ll keep their energy in a good place. A lot of people aren’t used to having to stay home every day. A lot of people can get depressed and stressed out during times like these, so we wanna provide light in all this darkness that lingers around.

Making music is most often a collaborative process. How are you using the internet to continue to collaborate? Or have you been creating more in isolation, and how has that affected your process?

K Camp: Haven’t even been recording these past weeks. Giving my mind time to regroup and then I’ma jump back in on the next album. With artists, it's as easy as sending emails. Like I said, weed and Xbox got my vibe at the moment. And good turkey sandwiches on Hawaiian rolls and chips.

Victoria La Mala: I love making music as a collaborative process, and I’ve been using this time to create some fun content from home: a live acoustic concert, a remote movie viewing party with my followers, songwriting, cooking videos, learning TikTok, and just fun stuff. I’ve also been using this time to prepare for my EP release, Soy Mala, coming soon.

Rucci: I’m in the studio every day so I feel like I ain’t did nothin’ different since they announced this is an epidemic or whatever. I don’t even be worried about what they say. I just keep doing music the same way I’ve been doing and keep promoting the same way. But now, I’m probably gonna start dropping a lot of music just ‘cause people in the house and they tuned in to what’s going on. I’ve been focused like tunnel vision.

Ceraadi: Being an artist comes with a busy schedule, so with this quarantine in place, it allows us to create more in isolation. Collaborations can definitely still happen. We weren’t in the studio when Az Chike hopped on our song “Tear It Up.” He sent in his verse like most artists do. We would hopefully like to be in the environment with another artist next time we get a feature.

Tera Kòrá: I've found myself locked up these last couple weeks with two close friends of mine and we've just been straight creating and finishing music. Besides that I've definitely found myself collaborating more with people over the internet. I'm also taking the leap of hitting up artists I look up to and just seeing if they would respond. Everyone has so much time on their hands anyway, so they're probably reading more of their DMs. My homie hit up YBN Cordae and he actually ended up responding wanting some beats so who knows!

How has your financial situation been directly affected? How are you dealing with these changes?

KIRBY: I’m a signed songwriter but an independent artist. Which means 99 percent of my expenses are out of pocket. Hair, makeup, styling, musician fees, studio time, etc.. They all add up pretty quickly. Although show revenue has slowed down, I’m ironically saving money because my expenses have decreased.

Angelica Vila: Due to the coronavirus, everything is shut down so that means no shows and/or appearances, which is how most artists make their money and no work hours for people who work a 9-to-5. I’ve been dealing with it by keeping myself busy and doing something active/productive.

Tony Konstone (of Hare Squead): There hasn’t been a direct impact yet, but the longer this happens and the more events and stuff keep getting canceled, things will be more difficult for the typical musicians/creators or self-employed people that rely on public gatherings. The whole world is affected, not just the music world. We all really need to distance ourselves and take hygiene seriously to make progress. I’ve spent less money though.

Rucci: Man, the fucking coronavirus is fucking up a lot of money for a lot of us. Show-wise… I just got my mom a house and now I got to think forward about how I’ma manage my money so I can pay rent. I've been figuring out how to manage my overhead in the future just ‘cause I don’t know how long this gon’ last. I’m literally just saving, tryna be smart so I ain’t gotta be worried when shit really is on lockdown.

HDBeenDope: I’ve been living under my means for about a year now so I’m not hitting the panic button just yet. However, the larger portion of income has been halted, and not having a lot of money coming but a lot going out for bills is a scary feeling. I’m a lil paranoid when it comes to money but at the same time, not at all, it’s strange. Maybe a topic for a song…

Ceraadi: There are a lot of opportunities that have been pushed back due to this virus. Our bag is definitely getting tampered with, but we’re grateful that, thanks to social media, there are other ways to secure the bag. It could be a social media paid post that can keep the ball rolling financially.

FeaturesKIRBYRemaJesse RoyalCeraadiSADFACETHUGGINHDBeenDopeTainyVictoria La MalaMaviG PericoCasanovaJAHMEDAngelica VilaOnCueK CampRucciTera KòráHare SqueadHip HopR&BLatinAfrobeatselectronicReggae

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