Music in the Age of Lockdown

Posted on 23 March 2020

I hope that you’re all doing ok. These are strange times that we are living in.

No doubt you are getting lots of messages in your social media feeds and are experiencing the full range of human emotions. Rather than contribute to more noise on these channels, I’d like to step back and offer a few ideas here.

But, first things first. Please don't hesitate to contact these services if you need them.

Support Act wellbeing hotline phone 1800 959 500
Lifeline phone 13 11 14 or text 0477 13 11 14

Our vital industry has been hit hard by this. Everyone has had all their gigs cancelled. Venues are shut down. Festivals cancelled. The whole industry has ground to a halt; and is uncertain when things will get back to how they used to be. I suspect that the music industry landscape is going to look and feel quite different in times to come. The precarious nature of our existence means that many in our community are going to be hardest hit. Even when times are good, it is consistently inconsistent.
How “the scene” has developed is very organic, and I suspect not easily able to be rebuilt: there are no instructions available on how to put things back together when the time comes. I guess it comes out of community, and the strength and cohesiveness of those connections. How can we foster that?

Just because we’re in lockdown, it doesn’t necessarily mean that we need to be isolated. Call people, check in on people. Have a laugh via a face to face video (via digital devices) if you can. For me, this is the thing I’ll be trying to do more of. Start planning your next projects with the people you want to work with. Give yourself something to look forward to. Give your bandmates something to look forward to. Give them a reason to ignore the social feed for a while and go and woodshed something. Make music.

There are things that you can do. I’m sure many of you are aware of this, but encourage others to consider how they consume music, the vendors they interact with, and how musicians are/are not supported from these means. Bandcamp seems to be the platform that is the most independent musician friendly and supportive. Buy Australian Creative Music. It doesn’t occur anywhere else, it can’t. The things that are created here can only have been created here. We have unique voices telling original stories. Listen to it.

We should be empowered by technology, not paralysed by endless choice. What you already have is enough (note to self). Creativity is not the absence of limitations, it is the defining of the parameters. Work within your pre-existing or self-imposed parameters. Make with what you already have.

The last thing I want to do is come across like Scotty from Marketing; but Australian Creatives are resilient. We’ve had to be. We continue to create in spite of the adverse conditions we find ourselves in. We continue to push forward because we have to. Keep going.
There are opportunities that are going to come from this. As a community we can become closer. We can look after our own better. We can organise and lobby governments at all levels to value the contributions that the Arts makes to society. After all, it is an industry that generates more turnover than sports does, in a quantifiable sense. However, what price do we put on the qualitative? How do we value the creative output of our community? What contribution does it make to our health and wellbeing? What is the value of the human-ness that involvement in the Arts contributes to society?

How do we want our society to be from now? Through the fear, loss and uncertainty, I see an opportunity. We can push the reset button and choose what happens from now. As a society we can change our inadequate response to climate change. We can listen to our First Nations brothers and sisters and hear how we can establish a Treaty. How we can reconcile our past and work towards Reconciliation. If we listen, maybe they’ll teach us how to manage our land better. Together. Maybe we can even think about what Modern Australia can be from here. What kind of people do we want to be? What do we want/need/expect from our elected representatives? Everything is up in the air at the moment, but we are in the position where we can determine whether things fall into place or not.

For me, I look forward to continuing to celebrate and showcase Australian Creative Music. Whatever I can do to help you, I will. I’m around, feel free to get in contact.

Make yourself aware of
FROM SOUNDS AUSTRALIA: visit their website for more details.
On Friday, the Music and Live Performance Industries called on the Government to support a $750 million dedicated relief package to our sector and now we must all follow up. You may have already received an email like this today from one of the many organisations and individuals working together to make sure our collective voice is heard. It is essential, however, that the government hears from everyone across the music ecosystem, so they understand the significance and depth of just how urgent targeted relief is for our industry, as they are imminently drafting the next stimulus package.