Quarantine: Musicians take hit – just like everyone else. So?

Photo Credits: Top Left: Steve Ewing, The Urge – credit: Danya Artimisi Top center: Dave Alans, Big Love – credit: Jen Gray Top Right: Gavin Michael, Solo artist – credit: Gabrielle Blanton Bottom Left: Jeff Faulker as Jeff Lynne – Mr. Blue Sky: A Tribute to The Electric Light Orchestra – credit: Jen Gray Bottom Center: Jake Brookman, cellist – credit: Danya Artimisi Wil Pelly, Kingpin – credit, Laura Winkler

COVID-19 has invaded our personal space, was never given consent to do so, and greedily spreads it’s deadly seed supersonically, as far and wide as possible. It is this motherf***er that has forced us into a mandatory quarantine, fearing for our lives, the lives our loved ones, and our livelihoods. Therefore, being unable to leave the home for reasons deemed non-essential, we are thus unable to seek pleasure, joy, solace, or camaraderie. Whether it be in the form of catching a film, taking the kiddos on a nature hike, going to a friend’s house for a barbecue, or meeting up with your core unit of friends, we are really starting to miss our freedom. Especially, the freedom of the feeling that you get with the anticipation and the excitement that comes with seeing music played live, which for many, is their greatest therapeutic source.

Many musicians’ and bands’ activity on social media has seen a marked increase as of late. (Haven’t we all?) They’ve been utilizing this platform as a resource to live-stream performances and stay connected with their fans. Some bands and musicians have also experimented with virtual “tip jars”. These are usually presented on the page in the form of a link to a cash exchange service such as Venmo or Paypal.

The virtual tip jars have demonstrated the generosity and kindness of people who love and miss their live music. Donations of around $1000 dollars were given to the local musicians with whom I had spoken; one making $200 for an hour of streaming play, and another, $41.

So, why all of the attention around independent musicians and singer/songwriters’ whose main source of income is whatever they make on stage? Why are we pouring ‘our’ unemployed, furloughed hearts out on social media for our favorite local band so that they can get a few views on their live stream from their tiny living room and maybe a few bucks in their virtual tip jar? Why do we care so much? What are they doing for us?

Allow me to reiterate and read this carefully and slowly. What are they doing for us?

Reflect back on a time when you were at a live show, be it a small scale local show or a large scale national tour. Think about the feeling you had when you heard the first heavy riff, or when the curtain dropped, or when the band played the song that you came to see. Think about the intense and sometimes seemingly palpable connection between a band and their fans.

Now, think back to the beginning of March when all of the show cancellations began coming down the wire; just when the Spring and Summer of 2020 couldn’t possibly look like a bigger, hotter, high dollar whore. (hashtag: take all of my monies)

This is what I’m talking about. We are not chasing Vince Neil. (Go ahead. Insert joke here.) We are not looking for tickets to the 37th Farewell Tour because we know that it’ll be the last one.

We are searching for that feeling. We are willing to bleed ourselves dry to get a fix. A fix that has been scientifically proven to boost dopamine levels in your brain. Research suggests that music can provide emotional and behavioral benefits for people with Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia. 

Musicians, all of you, we need you. Especially now.

As a society, we are experiencing profound times. We think we know what we are facing, but ignorance is substantiated by those who continue to gather in (any) numbers, be it lack of knowledge, understanding, and/or care.

Music and art is essential. We literally surround ourselves with it. It is impossible to use any one of your given senses and experience the absence of art. From the paint on your walls, to the graphic on your t-shirt, to the stitching on your pants, the design on our coffee mugs, or the ergonomics of your chair. This is art.

Imagine quarantine without finding solace in an art. Whether it’s painting with your child, dancing with your love, photographing nature, or just listening to the music that allows you to mentally escape the social isolation that which we are plagued by without choice.

Now, before you judge musicians who post virtual tip jars while sharing their artistry with you, think for a moment about a world without music and art. Then, show your support and appreciation for these brilliant minds whether it be through five bucks in their virtual tip jar, sharing their posts, or even flooding them with words of gratitude.

I challenge you to just look around you and appreciate everything around you as it was designed by an artist. Everything.

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