6 Crisis Survival Tips for Musicians

Concerns over the recent health crisis have caused many public events and classes to be canceled or postponed. As a result, musicians all over the world have been impacted. Without income from gigs and lessons, things can become dire very quickly. Here are some tips for (but not limited to) surviving a crisis situation.

1. Cut down on expenses.

Go over your financial statements and identify any superfluous bills. If you are paying insurance on two cars, try cutting it down to one. Look at your monthly subscriptions and see which ones you can do without. You probably won’t be using a movie pass or gym membership for a while. If you’re staying at home, use Wi-Fi and reduce the data amount on your cell phone plan. Do you really need a landline phone and cable TV?

Go to the grocery store with a plan. What are you going to make that’s cheap, healthy, and tastes good? Make the right portions so that your meals are cost efficient. Use the extra time you have to save yourself some money. That means only ordering delivery or takeout when it’s absolutely necessary. And last but not least, don’t buy 800 rolls of toilet paper.

2. Explore alternate income sources.

Going over your finances will help determine how much income you need to survive. Look at your savings, and calculate how much income you need over the next 6-12 months. If you need cash immediately, rent out extra instruments and start teaching online.

If you have money saved up, use this time to invest in your future. Ideally, your new income stream is sustainable when things are back to normal. This could be an online school, a record label, or a music licensing business. Think how your new income source ties in with your long-term business goals. If you’re going to start teaching online, create courses that students can purchase many years from now. Build towards creating an online school

3. Get organized.

What are things you could do to improve your creative space? A simple, free example is cleaning your studio. Or, if you’ve been putting off installing shelves, lights, acoustic panels, etc., this is the perfect time. If some of your instruments need maintenance or repair, do it now. When’s the last time your car had an oil change? Is your website, press kit, and bio current? Is your computer and software up-to-date? Can you find all your sheet music without having to rummage around? If you need to order supplies like paper or ink, make sure it gets taken care of.

4. Work on yourself.

Do you have any projects that have been put on the backburner? Is there anything you’ve wanted to learn but didn’t have time? When’s the last time you practiced purely what you wanted?

Anything substantial is always going to take time. Carving out that time is difficult when you’re constantly going from gig to gig. Use this opportunity to do something substantial. It could be producing new work, acquiring new skills, or honing old ones. It could be through an online course, reading books, taking lessons, or independent learning.

5. Collaborate with others.

You’re not the only one facing cancelations. Most likely your friends are too. Even top-tier musicians that are extremely busy are now going to be available. This could be a really opportune time to work with some great people.

6. Take a step back and plan for the future.

When you’re busy, it’s hard to take a deep breath and assess where you are career-wise. Do you still have the same goals or have they changed? What steps do you need to take to get where you want to be? Take a moment to do a bit of self-reflection and self-assessment.