How Are Artists Surviving During the Pandemic 

How Are Artists Surviving During the Pandemic 


Have you thought about how artists made money during the Covid-19 pandemic? Just how have they been surviving in a world where for approximately two years, live events ceased and have also scaled down significantly. The Bob Marley Group of Companies and Jamaica Reggae Industry Association recently hosted the Roots 77-Bob Marley Music Seminar to discuss this topic.

Poet and radio personality Mutabaruka chaired the seminar. The panellists included Mr Duane Mcdonald, Artist/Production Tour Manager & Engineer; Mr Javae Monroe, Chief Operating Officer of M-One Productions; Erik Mendelson, Executive Music Producer & Artist Manager; Norris (Noriega), Producer Auxillary Truck Driver and; Paul Kastick, Drummer, Music Producer & Music Director.

Are Artists Learning New Technologies?

Live music is among the art forms experiencing the negative impact of the pandemic. Mr Mcdonald’s response to the impact is that “Royalties and earning was not at the forefront of artists’ minds.” The pandemic changed that area of focus. Sound exchange pays artists based on radio play; however, their music must be registered to earn those royalties. He further stated, “All revenue streams for artists needs to be looked into”. He alluded to the fact that artists should try to monetize their fanbase. Some ways of doing this are providing unique offerings on platforms such as youtube and Payoneer.

Erik Mendelson, a Miami license cryptocurrency realtor, spoke about the rise of the digital revolution. Blockchain technology is now at the forefront of financial talks. “Blockchain is a computer code that can not be altered”, he stated. Examples of Blockchains are Ethereum, Ripple, and Quorum. “NFT’s (Non-fungible tokens) are digital collectables that are scarce or rare”, Mr Mendelson stated. Making an NFT scarce is achieved by limiting the availability. This applies to supply and demand. Music NFT blockchain is an extension of a digital fan club. Artists can provide a unique service or experience for their listeners, creating a blockchain.

Mutabaruka quipped, “Many say that cryptocurrency is a Ponzi scheme”. Erik responded, “The blockchain has never been hacked. Anywhere there is money, there is scamming; however, bitcoin is decentralized. There is no CEO of bitcoin. The top 20 bitcoins that are out definitely aren’t Ponzi schemes” “At first, people thought bitcoin was a way to transact on the dark web. This was in 2012, and a lot has changed since then. Now institutions and companies are buying it. You also see countries using it like El Salvador”.

Accept A Gig For Less or Pass on the Opportunity

Noriega (Norris) shared, “Some musicians are well known internationally whereas some are just known locally. Since the start of the pandemic, touring has stopped, therefore its either gig or sit down”. Noriega explained that artists with an alternative means of earning would be more likely to turn down gigs than those with no other income generation besides music. “For me, I’m an Auxiliary truck driver but a musician first. So when driving, I have my small set up to where I can still work on a track and send it virtually when completed”.

Paul Kastick, a Drummer, Music Director, & Producer, reasoned that the dynamics for each individual would be different. “For me, I have a mobile setup where I program very well”. He expressed that he has a setup that allows him to produce while being mobile. “It’s hard, it’s still hard. During the time being home, I was programming. I learned programming on a certain level, where I can make songs for you where you think it’s a live drummer playing.”

Muta went on to ask, “So does the producer have it better than the live performer? “Yes, because you work virtually. Now you can send files via WeTransfer instead of having to rush to the post office to send a DVD. Some positivity came about during the pandemic,” Mr Kastick responded. 

The Importance of Livestreaming

Since the Covid pandemic, Corporate Jamaica has now seen the importance of partnering with artists through live-streamed events. Javae Monroe, chief operating officer of M-One Productions, talked about the significance of Livestreaming. “Artists independently have found ways to push their content as well through varying platforms” M-One has been helping artists to push their content. As an artist, you have the option to reach out to these individuals. It’s essential to take advantage of all the live streaming platforms to generate income. This strategy exemplifies the importance of evolving with time.

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