Musicians face the music with COVID-19 crisis

During the COVID-19 pandemic, many states are under quarantine or a stay-at-home order. This has caused most public events to be canceled.

Only essential personnel, including emergency workers and grocers, are able to work.

What about musicians that relied on public events to support themselves?

How are small bands trying to maintain or grow their public audience while respecting orders to stay isolated?

Two years ago, In Brooklyn, New York, twins Talor and Jordan Steinberg started their band, The Moon City Masters.

Talor Steinberg, a vocalist and electric guitarist, talked about what they are doing to keep their music alive.

“Our band is in that stage where we’re trying to get as many people to see us as we can,” Steinberg said.

They’ve taken their artistry to social media. One of the most successful uses of social media has been on Tik Tok, a video-sharing app which launched in 2016 in China.

The brothers posted a video on Christmas doing a cover of “Black Dog” by Led Zeppelin on Tik Tok and got around 30,000 followers in a week.

“It is honestly the best thing for our band,” Steinberg said. “We have 70 thousand followers. If all of them look up our music, that would be life-changing. We get a couple of thousand streams a week because of Tik Tok and it doesn’t result in any money, but we still get to have our Moon City Masters passion.”

According to Steinberg, because of the income he gets from teaching guitar lessons, he was able to pay rent and still “be comfortable.”

The brothers did a livestream on Instagram and Tik Tok at the beginning of April and have plans to do it every month for the foreseeable future.

“The cool thing is we got to play for people all over the country,” Steinberg said. “We get a lot of requests to play in Florida and all over the Midwest that we would need to make more money to do so and it was just cool to play for them because I don’t know when we’d get to do it in person.”

Steinberg said he read comments from fans in Russia and Ukraine.

1,099 miles away, in Winona, Minnesota, a small-town band is dealing with similar things.

Spencer Klausing, Tyler Steinley and Jackson Nielsen of Afflatus discussed how Minnesota’s stay-at-home order has affected them.

Photo submitted by Afflatus of the members performing.

“All our shows have been cancelled and we haven’t been practicing keeping distance from each other,” Steinley, the drummer, said. “It’s come to a standstill for the most part.”

According to Steinley, the group isn’t livestreaming on social media but, they have “talked about it, but nothing yet.”

“I play in three groups and we were all getting prepared for a busy festival season of playing shows outdoors for huge crowds. Summer is my favorite time of year and I just love playing outdoor gigs,” Nielson, the bass guitarist, said. “All we can do is make the best out of a bad situation. Hopefully, we can get a tour going in the fall and play out a little bit.”

The members of Afflatus admitted they don’t make money from playing as it is more for the sake of performing right now.

Steinley gave advice to other bands. “Do what you want during this time. It’s the perfect opportunity to focus on creativity and being productive,” Steinley said. “Also the perfect time to rest and take a break from everything if that’s what you feel like that’s what you need.”

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