How Artists Can Survive Coronavirus Quarantine & Emerge Stronger
Wendy Day is an entrepreneur, author, and artist career builder with nearly three decades of experience in the music industry. As Founder of Rap Coalition, she has helped pull countless hip-hop artists out of unfair deals while educating them on the music industry. Day also runs the for-profit music consulting company PowerMoves, music incubator Artist-Centric, and is the author of the book How to Get a Record Deal: The Knowledge to Succeed, which was updated and re-published in March 2016 with audiobook narration from Slick Rick. She will launch a new music business education website in 2020. Throughout the 1990s, Day made her name by brokering several landmark deals in hip-hop: Master P and No Limit Records’ 85/15 distribution deal with Priority Records, Twista’s 50/50 joint venture with Atlantic Records, and Cash Money Records’ $30 million deal with Universal Music Group. She also was instrumental in securing Eminem’s first contract with Aftermath/Interscope, David Banner’s multi-million dollar deal with Universal Records, and a few other leveraged deals. In addition, Day has played a role in the careers of Lil Wayne, B.G., Juvenile, Hot Boys, C-Murder, Fiend, Do or Die, Boosie, Webbie, Lil Donald, Ras Kass, Trouble, Young Buck, and many others. Her clients have collectively sold over 1 billion sound recordings thanks to her guidance.
Wendy Day has been kind enough to give HNHH a full list of resources and tips to help any up-and-coming artists right now. Read Wendy’s exclusive tips and recommendations in full below. This piece was written by Wendy.
Feel free to comment with additional resources or tips for artists who might be struggling right now! Listen to our up-and-coming Soundcloud artists playlist here.
– Rose Lilah
In these unprecedented times, artists are unable to make a living from performing, the #1 way most of them make money. Thanks to the necessity of preventing or at least reducing the spread of the Coronavirus, also known as Covid-19, life as we know it has been canceled for the foreseeable future with no solid end date in sight. We have watched festivals cancel, tours cancel, performances cancel — any event where more than 10 people can gather has been canceled.
The ramifications from social distancing and self-quarantine will most likely be felt for quite some time, including tremendous financial fallout. Many, many artists depend on money from live performances to support themselves. Additionally, club owners, restaurants, performance spaces, and venue owners depend on the revenue from ticket sales and food and drink purchases from music fans to keep their doors open. If we don’t find a way to support the musicians and venues we love now, they may not be there when this pandemic is over.
To that end, I’d like to share some tips and resources to help artists make some sense of all this, get through it, and emerge stronger than ever.
Release New Music
Since so many fans and potential fans are also stuck in their houses, this is a good time to reach them with new music and content. I have noticed that my distributors, Stem and DistroKid, are understandably taking a bit longer than usual to get music onto DSPs such as Spotify and Apple Music, so please allow at least a week, possibly 10 days, for your music to release commercially. But even with the delays, this is an ideal time to reach a captive audience. Remember, continuity is a main tenet of marketing.
Create and Sell New Merch
This is a great time to bump up your merchandising efforts. Through Shopify ($30 a month), you can set up a merch store if you don’t already have one. They also feature an app for a company called Merchly that will print and ship your merchandise for you. Basically, you use their template to design your merchandise for a basic wholesale price. After you set your retail price (make sure it’s above the wholesale price), Merchly will then print and ship your promotional items on demand. You keep the difference between the wholesale price and the retail price. It’s a great way to offer merchandise without having to spend money out of pocket, build a merch website from scratch, or stand in line at the post office to ship the merch to customers.
Livestream a Performance
Cherie Hu has created a Google Drive doc of events that have been cancelled due to the Coronavirus, as well as places to tune in to streamed concerts/events. Be sure to get on this list if you’re performing online. Most importantly, there’s a list of resources for those of you who want to stream shows live and don’t know where to turn.
In addition, if you’re looking to create live VR content or pre-recorded shows that can work on any device, webLinkVR is a great resource. After creating an account, you can do a concert or series of shows with them. And if you’re wondering about their bona fides, they were responsible for Conan O’Brien’s CONAN360 shows. Here is a PowerPoint and a White Paper from webLinkVR that explains how to upload 4K, 8K, and VR content.
Ask Your Fans for Support
If you have a large fanbase, consider adding yourself to Cameo to generate revenue by sending your fans personalized video messages. You can also offer this yourself through your social media using CashApp, Zelle, or Venmo for payments. Be careful using PayPal though, as fans could reverse their payments if they aren’t trustworthy.
You may also want to spend this time researching Kickstarter so that you can create a campaign to release new music, more content, or something even more creative. And of course, Patreon exists for those of you looking for a virtual tip jar or a way to rally fans who love you to support you on a monthly basis.
Set Yourself Up for Sync Licensing Success
Have you joined an online sync community yet? These sites give musicians guidance on how to write and pitch music for use in films, TV shows, commercials, and more, a great revenue source that every artist should take advantage of if possible. Currently, The Sync Community is offering a free 30 day trial so you can test them to see if they’re helpful for you. After you click on “Become a Member,” just use the code SYNC30DAYSFREE.
Keep an eye on organizations like A2IM, which is offering financial support to indies, and consider whether you need the assistance. Although I’m NOT a fan of royalty advances due to their similarities to payday advances, Sound Royalties is offering no fee advances for artists who have some income from royalties. If you qualify and find yourself in a pinch, you can receive up to $25,000 with no fee or interest rate provided you pay back the advance within a year.
The good folks at NPR have put together a list of resources for musicians and people working in the music business, and The Washington Post offers an example from the past relating to live music. Also, be sure to balance the doom and gloom, like this article from Rolling Stone, with an upside, like this article from Afropunk. Billboard also released a helpful list of resources; be sure to check it out!
In addition, Microsoft is providing a Covid-19 tracker through Bing so you can see for yourself where the virus is spreading instead of believing what you read on social media. Forbes is also keeping track of all known Covid-19 scams. Finally, take the time to learn from pre-outbreak contractual mistakes, particularly as it relates to “force majeure” clauses. Many companies simply didn’t anticipate a pandemic (and who can blame them), so it will be imperative to know exactly what is covered in contracts and insurance agreements going forward. Here’s a great article from Chris Castle at Music Tech Solutions that runs through it in detail.
These are just some basic ideas available to artists who are being crunched by the inability to perform live or do paid shows. Hope you find this helpful, and hope we are back to normal, or as close to normal as we can get, relatively soon and with as little damage as possible. Stay safe and healthy — now go wash your hands again.
– Wendy Day