As everyone knows this pandemic has altered all of our lives as musicians and artists. Lots of our work has come to a complete stop, future gigs have been canceled, and there is no end to this pandemic in sight. As of right now my state of Illinois is on a Stay at Home order until April 30th, but we were on the same order until April 7th and that got pushed back so I’m skeptical things will reopen May 1st.
So with at least a few months of financial distress (and probably much more given most summer events are already cancelled) how can we as musicians keep ourselves financially afloat? It’s going to be difficult, but I’ve complied of list of actions and programs that can be useful.
Couple of things I want to address before we get into my list of ideas. One, I live in the United States so while most of the info is universal how effective/ relevant this will be for you may vary if you live in another country. Two, this is an ever changing situation and news is happening so fast that it’s possible some of these programs or solutions I have written down are no longer relevant whenever you read this. So whenever taking action do your due diligence to make sure these programs are still running/ available in your area.
MusiCares has set up a relief fund for music creators that have been impacted by Covid-19. You can apply for assistance on Grammy.com and I believe you can apply from anywhere. The application seems simple enough you just need your general info and on the final page you explain how you were impacted by Covid-19. Right now grants go up to $1,000 dollars so I 100% recommend applying if you’ve been hurt financially due to this pandemic.
This one is a bit difficult for most musicians. Most musicians work in places where they are not considered employees they are independent contractors and in the USA that means you haven’t put money into unemployment so it makes getting those benefits impossible. But maybe you’re a musician that works at a school and maybe you do get taxed in the traditional way. Or maybe you have a side job at a bar or restaurant and can get some unemployment benefits from those jobs. So while it may not be useful for all musicians everyone should be evaluating their ability to collect unemployment at this time. It seems the federal government is working on some solutions for gig economy workers on these issues, but right now that’s still being worked on so keep an eye out for that on the federal and state level.
In America a 2.2 trillion economic relief package was passed. In this package every individual will receive $1,200 if they make under $75,00 dollars. Couples will be receiving up to $2,400 and $500 per child. So chances are this money will be available to musicians and very helpful in this time of financial distress. As long as you have filed your taxes for either 2018 or 2019 and you make under $75,000 you will be receiving this money in the coming weeks. While this money is better than nothing it’s unlikely that this will solve all your money issues so hopefully this along with some other relief ideas will be enough to keep you afloat.
Consult Your Union or Local Music Org
Many unions and local music organizations have financial relief available for members or are setting up programs to help those who are in need. If you are not affiliated with a union or a music org take a moment and really think about your local community. Maybe you’ve graduated from a college and they have funds available for alumni? Perhaps you’re part of a band and have an LLC set up that can get loans at a low interest rate? Maybe you have a band that can do a go fund me or Indiegogo campaign to raise funds?
Other Ways to Eliminate Bills
When we think of bills we usually think of the money needed to offset these costs, but remember, bills and money are two separate things. This is a time to contact your different services and negotiate a plan or solution until this pandemic is over. I believe all federal loans are on emergency forbearance. Meaning you have no payments for months (Again some situations are different so double check your situation). I have a personal loan, but I talked to them about the situation and was able to get forbearance for a few months. Same goes for car loans and other bills. Most companies are willing to work with you, but you have to call them and talk to them. If you don’t most will keep charging you like life hasn’t changed at all. So make an assessment of your bills and make some calls and see if you can arrange a better situation than the one you currently have.
This is a difficult time for all of us. I hope that this article has given you some good ideas and made you feel better about the current situation we are in. If you have any questions, comments, or additional tips you think others could benefit from, please leave them below. Let’s help each other and rise up from this.