Dear Musicians and Entertainers:
I am writing to you today to tell you that the “rules” have changed for entertainers since the pandemic. And in a good way! It used to be that you had to beg for gigs from local venues (who usually prefer the out of town acts). Or hope some booking agent saw fit to put you at the top of their list. And if you got out on the street and played, people would feel sorry for you, and think you were poor and desperate.
Imagine now that you’ve entered a huge prison. All the people here are alone, scared, isolated and sad. You are carrying your instrument with you. What is the best thing you can do to relieve the tension and create some happiness? Do you need someone to give you permission? Do you need to be paid? I hope not. I hope you just play. Because that is the merciful thing to do – and if you don’t, do you really deserve to have the gift you’ve been given? Surely it’s not just for the people who can afford to hear you.
I have played seniors’ homes that sometimes feel like this, just very sad, quiet places with almost no life….and this is why I know! You start the first note – and suddenly people are alive again, smiling, clapping….people feel like they are in “the place to be” and they found the party! They love you, and start feeling good about themselves too for being in the right place at the right time.
Today’s pandemic has left people with precious little joy, much like the prison. Although people are spending time with families, there is acute financial tension, uncertainty over the health of loved ones, and isolation that desperately needs relief. There is arguing over paying the bills, violence, and fear. While playing a live streamed concert might seem like all you can do, people are spending so much time on their screens that even that has limited effectiveness. They can watch Burton Cummings live stream, why would they need to watch you – well, unless they already know you. So there’s limited reach.
Here is what you can do to really contribute to your communities; and this is something I have been doing over and over again over these past number of weeks.Take your instruments, and/or your back tracks, and get out and perform! Anywhere! From your front porch, in a field, by a grocery store lineup, anywhere. People will hear you, especially if you amplify (or have an instrument that just has a big sound). And BOOM, happiness will appear because you made it happen!
Sounds a bit scary, right? Well, let me tell you what happens next. If you just keep going, people start to come closer, stop, smile, clap and start taking pictures and videos. And then they say things like, “THANNNK YOU!! I WAS HAVING A TERRIBLE DAY….AND THEN HERE YOU WERE!!” And you’ll soon realize that you have a superpower that you MUST be sharing, as often as you can, especially now.
It doesn’t even matter what you play. Play what you want – whatever makes YOU feel good will project to making them feel good! Just play loud and proud, like you mean it – and smile and face the crowd.
I don’t put out a tip jar. But people try to tip me anyway. That part is up to you. I do like to have my name visible somewhere so people can see who I am and follow me on social media.
I am not saying you have to do only free gigs. In fact, I posted a bunch of “pandemic” performance packages on my website at https://www.jacquiedrew.com/pandemic-popups/ – if you want to follow my pricing etc., be my guest, or set your own. If you make them, you can send them out to your e-mail list or post them on your social media.
Also, an agent I used to work with called me up – his name is Brian Hansen at Fuze, and he said, “This is wonderful! Communities need this! Can I promote you again?” – he’s looking for other solo acts that are willing to do solo shows and have their own amplification (call him if you like at (403) 269-3632 or Brian@fuzeentertainment.com). People can walk by or listen from their own front lawns. Yes, I’m super lucky that I have a small inverter-style generator and can go anywhere…if you can get your hands on one of those, you can too. But I’ve also plugged into buildings (outside shopping centres) and no one has chided me for it.
One thing: watch your crowd – if too many people start hoarding too close, call them out for it, or just say thank you and end your show – we do have to be responsible about this. A small, sparse little bunch of onlookers is enough.
Lately, I feel like the last musician standing in this pandemic: not because I’m the best musician in town (and you guys know that!) – because I’m choosing to play. But this is ridiculous – we have hundreds of thousands of talents here in this city – and if we all choose to play, as often as possible in different places, this city would feel alive again! And you’ll gain dozens of fans new fans every day – fans that will come out to your shows next time you DO have the paying gig.
I know not all of you know me. Maybe not all of you even like me – I’m no virtuoso, I just have an abnormal amount of enthusiasm for sharing what I do have! But I respect and admire all of you – there are so many amazing talents in this City. And right now, about 99.99 percent of us are sad, lonely, and feeling useless because we aren’t performing. I just HAD to tell you, because I’ve been doing it, that YOU ARE IMPORTANT now, more than ever! You can perform daily, get better and better for the frequency of it, and be building your fan base while doing something great for others.
So, musicians of Calgary. Find a way to play! Your community needs you- and will love you for it. You don’t need permission anymore. And if you find ANY trouble at all, blame me. I turned 50 today, and I’m feeling tough and bad-ass to say the least!!
Let’s get out there! And she your #pandemicpopup pictures with me…I’ll be so proud to share them around (as I am a marketer, as you may know).
Your friend in music,
P.S. I have also started a free weekly entertainment series in my home community of Lake Bonavista with all kinds of volunteer entertainers (last week we had a Led Zeppelin tribute, car show, art displays, silly house decorating and much more…). It was done as a walking-tour format to keep prevent the crowds from pooling up. It was also super easy to organize – If you want to put one on in your community, just call me at (403) 804-4676, and I’ll walk you through how it did it so you can spread the happiness around. I have never seen so many smiling faces. Check out “CommunityStompede” on Facebook.
P.P.S. I should have added that by being outside and playing you are not only keeping your saw sharp, but people will offer you opportunities for paid gigs along the way – all the more reason to just DO IT!