COVID-19: How We Can Make Lemonade Out of Lemons

Alexx Calise offers information on Work Opportunities and Financial Aid assistance for musicians

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It goes without saying that COVID-19 has had an absolutely devasting impact on the arts community, and musicians and creatives alike are clamoring to find opportunities to make an income while on lockdown. With the closure of all non-essential businesses, and events the world over being canceled or postponed indefinitely, it’s hard to say where the next paycheck will come from, or what the industry will even be like when the world goes “back to normal,” so to speak. However, in desperate times like these, we have two options. Either we roll over, or we roll with it – and innovate.

Firstly, let’s start with some of the positives that have come from this situation. There has been a creative Renaissance of sorts all over the internet. I’ve never seen more musicians doing live streams on Facebook, IGTV, Twitch, TikTok, and Youtube, or just interacting with their fans. People have more time than ever to dedicate to their creative pursuits, learn a new craft, or just relax and reflect. Us creatives finally have that “quiet” we’ve so desperately craved and longed for so that we can do what we’re really meant to do: create.

However, a lot of us have fallen into a very strange spot due to our employment statuses, and it’s proven difficult to find viable resources for financial assistance when a lot of us are considered contract or 1099 employees. At least for myself, I’ve found that I’m ineligible for unemployment, and a lot of the “benefits” offered via say Benefits.gov didn’t really apply to me.

Because we’re a bit underrepresented as a group right now, we’ve got to be a bit crafty and put our awesome creative juices to work to stay afloat during this crisis. Sure, this is a difficult time financially for all of us, but you’re also never going to have more time to create OR have a more captive online audience for your material.

Here are some ideas to make some extra money during this time, as well as some cool streaming platforms where you can still play and get your rock jollies off (since all the clubs are closed).

Work Opportunities 

Get paid for your opinions.

Being a part of a focus group is an easy way to make some quick cash and chat about fun new products. You’ll voice your opinions on anything from toothpaste to video games, and give feedback on product designs. While most market research companies do a ton of in-person studies, there are quite a few doing remote surveys or hosting online communities right now due to the virus. Simply Google “market research companies” near your city, sign up to become a participant on their site(s) and wait for the email opportunities to start rolling in. 

Work for an essential business.

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Right now, many grocery stores, pharmacies, and essential businesses are hiring temporary help due to the increased demand for supplies. You can also make a few bucks delivering food via Postmates, UberEats, Grubhub, and more. Signup is also relatively simple, and payouts are quick.

Do some freelance work online!

Sign up with Fiverr.com as a seller to start offering creative services. If you sing or play music, write, are adept at graphic design, or know how to do SEO, for example, then this is a platform that you need to be on. This is also a great site if you ever need to hire musicians for a recording (for cheap)! Also, sign up for Gigtown.com. It’s usually used to find musicians for in-person events, but I’ve seen that some people are hiring musicians here and there to do streaming performances.

Places to Stream Your Music

Facebook Live. I’ve seen tons of musicians stream their concerts on this platform, and it’s great when you just want to do an impromptu show. A lot of the other streaming platforms require you to schedule shows ahead of time. My good friend, bassist Jen Oberle (jenniferoberle.com), has been streaming on Facebook Live with a link to her Venmo account so that you can virtually tip her while she’s playing. Brilliant.

Bandsintown. This company just created a streaming platform via Twitch where you can stream your shows. To top it off, all tips collected during the festival will be donated to the MusiCares® COVID-19 Relief Fund to help musicians and music industry professionals. If you get in on the ground level, they also may be willing to promote your show if you contact them via [email protected].

StageIt. This online venue is also monetized, and you can interact with fans while playing, take requests, and chat during the show. You decide when you want to play, and then fans buy virtual tickets to watch the show.

Viable Financial Aid Resources for Creatives 

Firstly, I wanted to give a big shout to my musician friends on social media for providing me with some great resources for financial aid should you not qualify for unemployment or other government programs. My research-savvy friend, musician Carolina Hoyos (carolinahoyos.com), has even found some great under-the-radar relief funds. Just FYI, for most of these resources, you will need to submit proof of lost gigs.

NewMusicUSA.org is offering grants up to $500 via the New Music Solidarity Fund Collective. Applications will be accepted beginning at 12 pm Eastern time on March 31. Mark your calendars!

Equalsound.com will be paying out to people who have completed their application on a first-come, first-served basis.

Sweetrelief.com is offering assistance to musicians or music industry workers with their donor-directed fund. You will need to provide documentation proving that at least 50 percent of all income comes from working in the music industry.

Local 47 union musicians in Los Angeles may be eligible for funds up to $150 via musicfundla.com.

The Recording Academy and MusiCares are offering grants up to $1,000 for working musicians via https://www.grammy.com/musicares/get-help/musicares-coronavirus-relief-fund?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_content=Donate%20%2B%20Apply%20for%20Assistance%20Here&utm_campaign=COVID-19%20Statement

You can also write to Congress and urge them to create a relief program for the artistic community via https://www.grammy.com/advocacy/act?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_content=Write%20to%20Congress%20Here&utm_campaign=COVID-19%20Statement#/45

I sincerely hope any of these resources or suggestions are helpful to you during these uncertain times and that you continue to create amazing things despite how bleak everything may look right now. Please keep up with me on social media @alexxcalise as I will be continually posting ideas, links, and resources to help us all navigate through this crisis.

Wishing you all good health!

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