(Quick aside here: Working From Home
is the new normal. Spotify told employees to stay home
. Major labels followed suit
. Anecdotally I don’t think many people in the industry expect to see their desks in the coming weeks, though I’d even say it could be months. I cannot calculate the immediate impact of that but I’d guess productivity across the entire industry is going to decrease and only more so when more people get the virus and semi-distracted workforces suddenly must deal with a real crisis. There is also the fact that many white-collar music industry jobs are centered around events, promotion, and travel, which are all off the table for the foreseeable future. While some of that work will become digital, much of it will and is already disappearing.
An extreme example, Lucian Grainge, the CEO of Universal Music Group, was hospitalized with coronavirus and the Financial Times reported
that he was in contact with many, many
higher-ups across the industry (Tim Cook, you know the Apple CEO), which must be throwing out of sorts at least some
corporate functions. The white-collar impact of the coronavirus won’t be seen as immediately but is certainly already being felt.)
Nastia Voynovskaya, the music editor at KQED Arts in San Francisco, wrote about how the lack of touring
is already hurting artists. Her piece and other reporting got at the fact that many semi-professional musicians already work within various parts of the service economy that are currently being shut down due to the coronavirus. Thus there aren’t many options for one to go to his or her day job or even perform music in a way that can bring in a real income. On Twitter, Matt Dryhurst repeatedly stated
that it doesn’t make sense to assume that suddenly musicians should be forced to digitally remake their career via a platform like Twitch or another live streaming platform. In a moment of crisis, I couldn’t agree more with this pushback because the notion that an entire class of music workers will be able to sustain themselves via online tips while economies are collapsing is illogical.
A reason I’ll be taking a break is partly because of an exhaustion that I sense is about to set in within the American music industry once it becomes clear that shows aren’t returning in a couple of weeks. There is a reason why sports leagues across the world have bumped the breaks. Right now, across the United States, states and cities are locking down to only the most essential businesses remaining open and what happens to those businesses and workers after a month of no income but mounting bills? That is an issue that’ll be facing city, state, and federal governments but it’s one that needs to be addressed now. Music, just looking at Live Nation’s stock
, is in an even more precarious position. Once the wheels fall off, I hope we’re all there to help each other up, cause we’re gonna need it.