The economic effects of the Corona Virus with its social distancing restrictions has had a severe impact on the global entertainment industry with creatives seeing a significant loss of income.
The temporary break in live entertainment has removed one relatively dependable source of income. Many musicians survive from gig to gig entertaining at events, playing in church, teaching etc. As all these areas have been affected by the pandemic, there has been a compounded loss of work as live gig dates and tours have been postponed or cancelled.
In every challenge lies an opportunity. Success will come from reviewing, re-strategizing, refocusing and adapting to the enormous change. Over the next few days I will be sharing some thoughts about how musicians and other entertainers can navigate these challenging times.
1. INVEST IN YOURSELF
You are your greatest asset. Develop yourself. Invest in yourself constantly and be proactive about developing both personally and professionally. Self-development is one of the greatest investments that you can make. When last did you enroll on a course or have some #training? There are so many free or affordable webinars. Find one or two that meet your needs and enrol. Use this time well; learning, growing, adapting. Master your craft.
2. CREATE CONTENT
As a “casual” musician and the mother of serious musicians, I have given much thought to our musicians and other entertainers many of whom are naturally anxious about the sudden change in potential earnings.
Yes opportunities to gig or tour are limited, but you have gained precious time to work on your creativity and create content. Write new songs and scripts, create new beats, make new music.
Build a war chest of material that you can pull off the shelf at any time. Keep it fresh and current. Revisit old work that you never got round to releasing, and perfect it. Continue to produce, even during the quiet times. Sometimes the best work comes from times of challenge such as this.
3. ENTERTAINERS & IRREGULAR INCOME
Creative professionals, including artists, musicians, dancers, photographers, writers etc, face unique challenges when it comes to budgeting and planning. While most jobs pay a regular salary, they mostly have to rely on a combination of irregular payments.
One month an #actor or a dancer might be working steadily and then for the next three months there is absolutely nothing. Try to manage cashflow when funds do come in, as you just don’t know when you will book your next job.
Track your expenses and build a bare bones budget and calculate how much money you’ll need every month for food, transport, utilities, mobile phone, rent, personal-care, entertainment etc.
It is easy to go on a spending spree with the financial and emotional “yo-yo” that entertainers face. The “dry” months seem endless, then you get that “alert” for a commercial or a sound track and euphoria sets in.
Be conservative; Don’t forget that there could be nothing for a while. Try not to splurge just yet until you have some savings. We will talk about building an emergency or survival fund and multiple streams of income.
4. DON’T NEGLECT YOUR EDUCATION
It is very easy when the money starts to come, to view education as a waste of precious time that could be used to make even more money. This could be a huge mistake, as the benefits of your education, will remain long after a career has waned.
Many entertainers shortchange themselves by dropping out of school to pursue their craft and celebrity and many more fail to return to complete their education. By getting a qualification, there is a better chance of being able to earn even when traditional avenues for revenues fail.
Many entertainers are multi-talented. Do your talent audit. Write all your skills and strengths down. It is useful to consider a qualification or certification that compliments your craft; this makes you more versatile even in challenging times.
Yes… follow your dream but do wake up to realities as well.
5. MAP OUT A DIGITAL STRATEGY
“If you don’t have a digital presence you don’t exist.”
With everyone having to spend so much more time at home, your audience is looking for ways to fill that time. Are you online? Your entire fan base probably is, as well as millions of others that don’t yet know about you.
The internet makes it possible to share and promote your work to a global audience reaching millions cheaply and efficiently. With the right strategy, you can build a following in faraway lands that are happy to watch you on their devices.
Take your online presence seriously. If you cannot handle this yourself, hire help. You do need to be out there.
4 components matter and in equal measure
CONTENT – WHAT message do you wish to communicate
STRATEGY – WHY are you in business and why should people engage
DESIGN – Packaging of your message matters. Design, aesthetics, experience can sadly be more powerful than content.
TECHNOLOGY – without the tools, you cannot connect.
This is the time to complete some of the tasks that you’ve neglected.
Social media accounts?
A you-tube channel?
The revamp of an outdated, dull website.
An elegant website with easy navigation and designed for e-commerce may get you some sales of your merchandise range over time.
6. CAN YOU TEACH YOUR CRAFT?
Musicians, artists, dancers, and other professional performers, have been hit hard by the economic effects of the Corona Virus pandemic. For many, regular income opportunities have been cancelled, or postponed indefinitely.
Yet, there is a captive audience with all the students of the world at home and with some stressed out parents trying to keep them engaged! Remember, education is not just about academic subjects; children benefit enormously from extra curricular activities, to explore and develop their talent in areas where they show promise.
Can you teach your craft to individuals or groups online? We’ve all had to learn how to use videoconferencing apps by force! Make the effort to master this essential skill; a tutor with high quality online lessons will be highly sought after.
Here is a note from gifted @ifeanyi_ezinmadu that made me smile.
“During the lockdown, I set up my own teaching studio in my room where I am able to give lessons to 7 students weekly across Edinburgh, London, Lagos and Calgary Canada. Two of my clients (based in London and Lagos) mentioned your page to be the referral point to me. Although I have never met them in person, I endeavour to give my best in the online sessions and a parent’s comment on your page yesterday made me happy beyond measure to celebrate the little achievement with her child thus far.”
The Arts are a powerful force for emotional, physical and mental wellbeing at a time when so many badly need that sense of peace that creativity brings.
Rise to the challenge. Consider sharing your talent in this way. You can supplement your stricken income doing what you love and leaving you enough time to re-strategize about your next steps.
7. HOST A VIRTUAL CONCERT
“This is for you Mum”
@DAPthecontract held his first post graduation online concert last night. It was fab!
Can you host an online instagram or you tube live concert? Advertise the live stream and prepare a small set just as you would for a normal gig. With the curfew and venues closed you have a better chance of gathering a large group to watch you perform. The best part is that both you and your audience are staying safe but you are getting your music out there.
No one can survive on totally free gigs for the foreseeable future. There is nothing wrong with including a donation link for people to pay something if they enjoyed the show. A percentage of yesterday’s proceeds went towards Covid relief. Ticket sales, yes even for an online concert are likely to become the norm.
Granted; an online concert is not the same as seeing you in person but it may be all we have for a while. At the end of this, audiences will have a new appreciation and desire for that special connectedness, that special magic that live music brings.
8. SHARE YOUR TALENT WITH YOUR CHILDREN
Be intentional about passing on your skills, passions and talents to your children from their earliest years. For so many of the world’s most successful and talented musicians, artistes, actors, sportsmen and women, the seed of their passion was planted by their parents.
Your children are watching you. Watch how they respond. What captures their interest?
Do they like to dance?
Do they like to act?
Do they “talk too much?”
You can’t keep them away from the piano?
Do they draw on everything?
Do they take gadgets apart?
Their reactions could be some key indicators of future passions or interests.
Introduce your children to new things regularly. Extra curricular activities are a good way to help broaden their horizons. Let them explore. Your support will encourage them to be inquisitive. Give them the freedom to find that activity, instrument, that creative space that will see them thrive.
Don’t impose your passions. Your child may not walk in your footsteps but if you have great talent, you can easily gift it to them to use it as they will. But be careful not to impose it on them. Their choice might not be your choice for them but as long as they are safe; support them regardless.
Our children’s talents and interests will change and evolve throughout their lives. Our role is to let them engage and encourage them every step of the way. Let them discover their best and truest selves with your support.
9. CAN YOU DEVELOP A COURSE?
The entertainment industry is among those hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic. For celebrity dancer @kaffydance, the social distancing directive from the government required her to shut down her dance studio and gym. Thankfully for creatives, there are great opportunities to share your extraordinary talent, even at this time.
“THE DANCE BOSS LECTURE SERIES is an 18-part entrepreneurship teaching series for creative industry professionals. In the series, Kaffy shares business and life principles, and unpacks valuable lessons acquired along her 20-year professional journey as Nigeria’s leading dance and choreography brand.
It provides a wide range of information and subject areas relevant to dancers and creative artist professionals.”
COMING THIS JUNE !”
Congratulations Kaffy on this exciting initiative which couldn’t be more timely. Your mum, your new Angel, is watching over you as she rests in peace. Thinking of you at this difficult time.
10. BE IN CONTROL OF YOUR DEBT
Financial planning for entertainers and creatives usually requires special attention, now more than ever as the nasty pandemic has caused so many revenue opportunities to stop.
We must all learn from this season; If money earned today is not properly budgeted, saved and invested, it has long term repercussions. Remember, it’s not the money you make; it’s what you keep.
Do you regularly have to borrow from friends and relations to keep up with the “pressure of celebrity,” the lifestyle and obligations. Be careful. We must all adjust to these times whilst we try to figure things out.
Your attitude to debt matters; wishing it away or inaction makes things worse.
Here are some tips:
1. List all your debt in order of priority.
2. Cut back drastically on spending.
3. Tackle the high interest or high pressure loans first.
4. Try to earn additional income by putting all your skills to work; online included.
5. Approach lenders, apologize for the delay and try to reschedule
6. You may need to sell some assets.
Don’t let your debt fester. Your borrowing behavior affects lenders’ attitude towards you both now and in future.
11. BUILD AN EMERGENCY FUND
Do you have an Emergency Fund?
Far too many of us are completely unprepared for emergencies and can be caught off guard. No matter how meticulous or organized you are about your personal finances, things will happen when you least expect them.
This pandemic has disrupted lives and livelihoods so severely. Life is so full of uncertainties so we all need a cushion to alleviate the impact of an unexpected event.
Car or home repairs, a faulty generator or the more serious events; rent, school fees, job and income loss, a medical emergency etc are so much traumatic when there is no safety net.
Of course it’s difficult to talk about this at a time where your income has taken such a hit. But if you don’t have an emergency fund, start building one if your income and work schedule have not been totally disrupted.
Experts suggest about 6 months of your expenses set aside in a money market account or mutual fund! I tend to suggest 12 months if you can. It will just give you that extra comfort and much needed peace of mind. This is apart from your regular savings and investments.
Just start with what you have; some cushion is certainly better than none.
12.DO YOU HAVE A MENTOR?
It is hard to be successful all on your own. Few have ever reached the top of their game without the help, influence, and guidance of others. Most successful people attribute a chunk of their success to a mentor.
This is someone who has experience and expertise in their chosen field who took them under their wing in the early days and helped them understand how the business works, guiding them in their decisions and helping navigate towards growth opportunities.
From life lessons, to timely #advice, access to their network, wisdom and encouragement, someone who knows the ropes of your craft can teach you how to avoid making the same mistakes they did; these are just a few reasons why having a mentor is important.
Do you have a mentor? Here are some tips.
Approach someone you admire; they may have a similar career path or one that interests you; do your research to get the conversation started.
Ask for an introduction.
Don’t be discouraged if you are turned down. Find someone else.
Clearly articulate your expectations of the relationship.
Be professional, punctual and prepared.
Your mentor is not there to solve all your problems. You are responsible for your growth.
The mentor/mentee relationship should be one of mutual benefit, shared interests, respect and trust. Don’t take it for-granted. This is one of the most important relationships you can ever have.
Research has shown that those working in the entertainment industry can be more vulnerable to health concerns and depression than the general public due to the unique pressures that they face.
With often low and unpredictable pay, apart from established entertainers, a lack of financial stability has been the norm and this global pandemic has made things particularly dire.
Professional musicians and other artistes spend years honing their talents but the results take several years to come to fruition and even then, are not guaranteed. Yet there is so much uncertainty in the actualisation of their dreams as well as the pressure to be “creative on demand.” This makes even the most fulfilling career, a high pressure one. Much of the pressure comes from the anxiety of being perfectionists, and issues of self-belief and self worth. Stress also comes from juggling several jobs, no regular routine, late nights, societal expectations, etc
HEALTH IS WEALTH
Inspite of the challenges that the entertainment industry currently faces, “this time too shall pass.” It may be different, but it will come back strong. But in the meantime, we need its practitioners to be healthy and ready to participate.
Without health, you have nothing. Use this time to be fit, well and healthy, both mentally and physically. We know the keys to good health; its time to put it into
Enough rest and sleep
Because society benefits so intensely from the contributions of the creative arts, if our musicians, actors, dancers, comedians, etc are not thriving, it has major implications for our societies wellbeing. Music, art, and culture connect us all; we must all be committed to do all we can to ensure that this critical sector
thrives. When entertainers have challenges, in a sense we all do.