COVID’s impact on local musicians

Erika Johnson performing locally. Photo courtesy Johnathan David

The year 2020 went off track in a hurry. The bad tune produced by the pandemic has carried into 2021.

COVID negatively impacted all of us, but struck the music industry extremely hard.

According to the World Economic Forum, the music industry has been hit hard by coronavirus with live performance revenue the biggest casualty. The six-month shutdown is estimated to have cost the industry more than $10 billion in sponsorships, with longer delays being even more devastating.

With still limited in person classes, music has been that much less accessible for students. The in-person experience is difficult to replicate online. Many students have had to participate in virtual choirs and auditions.

“As a graduating voice performance senior, I have had many difficulties due to COVID restrictions,” said Erika Johnson, who is alsoMiss FAMU as well as a growing artist. “The restrictions have prohibited me from experiencing traditional auditions and live performances. This past summer I was due to go to Graz, Austria for the AIMS Musical Program. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to attend due to COVID.”

With the vaccine being in its early stages, 2021 will most likely entail the same standards as 2020. For the arts this means another year of strategically finding new ways to perform. Social media has been used as a tool for many musicians and artists, but again the online experience doesn’t equate.

“COVID has impacted my experience as an artist for sure,” said Mike Ingram, a Tallahassee guitar player in the band The Brown Goose. “The main difference now is that where we used to be touring the country and playing middle to large-scale venues in different college towns, now we have had to scale it down and split off into little groups to play restaurants and smaller bars. Very humbling experience.”

Opportunities to perform live right now are extremely scarce. Also without a national policy for COVID, live performances vary from state to state. With Florida having no statewide order for masks and being in Phase 3, there is a lot more flexibility for venues to hold performances.

One place that has begun to have performances again is the Junction @Monroe. Each Wednesday, it hosts an open mic for any kind of performers ranging from musicians to comedians. Performers who sign up are allowed to do 12 minutes of their own selections.

With the vaccine expected to be nationally distributed by the end of 2021, artists will have to find new ways to market themselves. COVID will have unpredictable outcomes, which is a song that we’ll all have to listen to this year.