Who thought we’d live in a world where Coachella was cancelled? One of the largest and most popular music festivals, cancelled. What are we supposed to do with our flower crowns and high-waisted shorts now? But of course, that is just the tip of the iceberg, when thinking that by mid-March, “the coronavirus pandemic had effectively put the multibillion-dollar concert industry on indefinite pause.” While as a fan, thinking of concerts being cancelled and records from our favorite artists being postponed, it’s tragic. But as an artist, making most of your wages from live music, this pandemic is detrimental.
As an independent artist, life is significantly more challenging than being an artist backed by a label. This week I spoke to local indie singer-songwriter, Dani Zanoni to talk about her take on this global pandemic. Zanoni has been singing ever since she was little, and further studied performance and the music industry at Ramapo College of New Jersey. While Zanoni is pursuing her artistic career, she is also working as a vocal coach at North Jersey Guitar and as a freelance digital marker.
Being an artist of any kind, brings on it’s own challenges. Whether it be searching for creativity, or just finding fans to appreciate your work. But add being an independent artist and multiply those issues by ten. And then add a dash of a global pandemic. Indie artists are a jack-of-all-trades. Zanoni explains how,
“As an Indie artist, you have to (most of the time) be able to do everything for yourself. It can get to be a lot. You don’t really have a “team” to help you out like you would being with a label; where you could focus on your craft/music for the majority of the time and have others focus on the latter.”
As this DIY musician, you are your own manager, booking agent, promoter, and then some. Prior to the pandemic, there have always been hurdles to jump over to reach venues to perform at and simply earning enough income to support yourself primarily as a musician. Streaming may be 80 percent of the music industry's revenue, but low royalty rates still make it difficult for independent artists to even earn minimum wage through streaming; thus relying on live music. Zanoni’s income was making at least 40-50% of her income from live performances, a stream of revenue that was completely stripped from her, and all artists alike.
“It’s a scary time right now...my heart aches for all creatives in the industry who make their living on events with public gatherings.” Zanoni said.
While the music is paused, so is that face-to-face connection. As humans we thrive on this, and as musicians we rely on this. Dani Zanoni spoke about her biggest challenge during quarantine being just this. It’s most difficult finding, “new ways to connect to fans/followers/etc.” While she’s been active most through social media and live streaming, in-person moments still remain priceless.
But what does the future hold when the pandemic is no longer a risk?
Dani asks, “How can we find a way to continue making a living off of our craft and performances - when it was even difficult when COVID wasn’t a thing?”
And that’s just it. How can we be sure the music industry can even sustain going back to “normal.” While the industry itself has taken a major hit, we still understand how vital music is to all of us; musicians or not. There has even been an uptick in creativity during this quarantine. Reverb has noticed an influx of new buyers, beginners with more spare time on their hands. Innovation has also seen a boost. Now artists have been forced to find new ways to spread their art, many dabbling in livestreams and creating new music. Zanoni even explains that during this time,
“Quarantine also helped me to find a new way of writing and gave me lots to think about and discuss in my music. A big takeaway from this whole experience for me, is you have to find the light in any situation.”
In a time like this, we need Dani Zanoni’s positivity. If musicians are anything, they're innovators, making lemonade with the lemons of the Coronavirus. This pandemic is far from being over, but already has shook the entire industry: made the world realize how important music is to everyone, and how the music industry’s current business model is not sustainable for this time, and for the future.
LONG STORY SHORT: Support independent artists! Go to their shows, buy their music, stream their tracks, and share it! This is an uncertain time for us all, but music and artists' creativity is something we will always need.
Check out Dani's new single and see what's next on https://danizanoni.com/ !