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Are pro pickers quitting the road and for good? Will this recover?

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Jun 3, 2020 - 10:02:21 PM
2234 posts since 12/31/2005
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It seems to me that, for what is normally the beginning of the festival season, there is a higher than normal number of announcements about someone leaving the road, staying home to be with family, etc. In the best of times, making a living as a bluegrass musician is tough and the sacrifices great. Will everything have to go back to regional bands, with pickers who have day jobs, playing night and weekend gigs nearby? After a year without festivals, will the promoters be able to come back? Patreon seems to be helping some musicians, as have the various lesson subscription and skype lessons business. But performance obviously is a labor of love (since very few ever got "rich"), and are pickers going to hang in there or finally just go out and get non music jobs?

Thoughts?

Edited by - Brian Murphy on 06/03/2020 22:03:03

Jun 4, 2020 - 4:20:25 AM

3367 posts since 7/12/2006

Well the more that DO stay off the road for good the busier the ones still on the road will probably be unless the venues also shrink

Jun 4, 2020 - 5:53:26 AM
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KCJones

USA

716 posts since 8/30/2012

Short term we'll see most musicians pausing their music career and doing what they can to make ends meet.

Mid term we'll see a portion of musicians permanently end their career, resulting in an overall temporary drop of full time musicians. This will happen with venues as well. Smaller independent musicians and venues will be hit the hardest.

Long term, if the current events lead to certain systemic changes (e.g. UBI), we will see an overall increase in full time musicians.

Jun 4, 2020 - 6:08:24 AM

2234 posts since 12/31/2005
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Good point on venues. In Greenville, people are raising funds to keep a small one afloat. Now on Universal Basic income, I don't know but we can't go down that path in this forum :-)

Jun 4, 2020 - 6:48:43 AM
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Players Union Member

R Buck

USA

2783 posts since 9/5/2006

No one knows what is going to happen. Everyone is acting like this is over and let's get back to life, but there is a severe liability in that thinking. Most of the guys I know are hunkered down, teaching on line, doing other things to make a living. Being a full time musician means you are diversified. Even those who make a living at it have their hands in other projects. We will see who has the gumption to wait this out. Once the dust settles, we will see clearly. Remember that while the stock market climbs, main street is in big trouble. Consumers drive the economy and 40 million + are out of work.

That old curse "May you live in interesting times." is hard at work right now.

Jun 4, 2020 - 7:20:15 AM
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3367 posts since 7/12/2006

Well one things for sure. Many if not most of us are getting more time to practice and learn new stuff. We should come out smoking when all is past!

Jun 4, 2020 - 7:20:37 AM
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1867 posts since 2/10/2013

How knows, maybe the crisis will have enterprising promoters make beneficial changes to musical events. I have went to bluegrass festivals where a local band was the best performer. All a band has to lose in order to lose their appeal is the lead singer(s). Instrumentalists enjoy listening to other instrumentalists, but most folks really focus on the vocalist(s). When John Duffy stopped being a part of the "Seldom Scene", it was no longer as appealing to me.

Jun 4, 2020 - 7:24:32 AM

KCJones

USA

716 posts since 8/30/2012

quote:
Originally posted by m06

Festivals aren't happening in 2020, so any recovery there is next summer.


Blue Ox music festival is happening in August, postponed from June. Lots of smaller festivals still happening. Numbers are steadily declining and even the worst affected areas are already opening back up.

Jun 4, 2020 - 8:07:10 AM

1629 posts since 2/12/2009

for sure, the gig scene will be different after all this ! I have made my living as a musician for most of my life and, right now things are definitely tough, however promoters and agents and many venues all across the country are preparing for a new way of doing things as soon as they get the go ahead from Boris. I do not expect the old way of life on the road to just pick up where it left off but, many businesses have so much invested in the entertainment industry that I do not see it being allowed to quietly just go away any time soon. Most pro performers have seen the industry wobble many times before this and, in some form or another it has always survived. I am old enough to remember when "disco" was about to wipe out live gigs for good and, then "karaoke" was widely declared to be the death knell , both have quietly gone under or, have taken their place alongside traditional live artistes, we are still here ! perhaps I am fooling nobody but myself here but, I believe that purpose built live music venues of the type I have spent over 40 years working in will battle on under a new set of rules, this I am hearing from the places I have mentioned here. in my diary I had 26 gigs booked for March and, I ended up doing about four of those ! One thing is for sure, I will never work that hard again as I have learned that at my age less can be at least more fun .

Jun 4, 2020 - 8:34:57 AM
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12988 posts since 10/30/2008

I totally understand a musician taking a "real job" as a must for survival.

Musicians are musicians, and if/when work returns for musicians, the hardest core musicians will go back to playing music.

Even Ralph Stanley had a "side hustle" in livestock when jobs were mighty thin for the Stanley Brothers. He was quoted in an article to the effect that when he was a young man he had choices (that he didn't like) such as timbering, coal mining, etc. but music was the appealing choice. In later life he said he was basically stuck with being a musician for better or worse. "What else could I do?"

Jun 4, 2020 - 10:22 AM
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heavy5

USA

1233 posts since 11/3/2016

Temporary bad breath is better than none

Jun 4, 2020 - 1:54:32 PM

204 posts since 10/26/2008

My brother-in-law plays guitar for a country artist that plays big arenas all over the place. Not sure if it's standard practice in Nashville but the artist he plays for has the band on salary. Long story short they were all furloughed until next April at the earliest. He's had to find a 9-5 to pay the bills.

Jun 4, 2020 - 2:43:45 PM
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938 posts since 5/19/2018

As for playing in public venues, I think the insurance companies are going to make the call on this one, and that it’s going to be a good while before they re-open like in days past, like the good ole’ days back in 2019.

No venue in the US is going to take the risk liability of being the next catalyst spot and no insurer that insured these venues is going to place a policy for the venue or event if the risk of being sued for $$$$ is a real possibility.

Large gatherings of any kind have now in the past 30 -60 days have become a huge liability for pretty obvious reasons.

Musicians in the US would be wise to figure on a side gig for the next while.

Jun 4, 2020 - 9:16:02 PM

4854 posts since 5/14/2007

I haven't paid much attention to the Bluegrass/Folk/ Roots/ Americana/ Blues/Acoustic Music performance world recently, but I am aware of various performers setting up on-line performances. I heard from one friend, a professional magician, that some people were making the same money from it they were making from club and cruise gigs. Welcome to the world of Zoom.

Jun 6, 2020 - 5:58:06 PM
Players Union Member

R Buck

USA

2783 posts since 9/5/2006

On line gigs are not great. FB live you get some feedback but you can't read it while playing and you don't know what is being said. Some folks have been hit by some mean spirited stuff and that hurts. At least live you can address it. These are hard times, and where I live, near Brian who started this thread, the virus is rearing its ugly head as people get out and mingle. These are hard times.

Jun 7, 2020 - 7:21:22 AM

1867 posts since 2/10/2013

I used Skype for some fiddle lessons. The biggest drawback was the fact only one person could be playing at a time. I would appreciate reading informative postings about "Zoom". All I have to play with regularly are "Band in a Box" and "The Amazing Slow Downer". If "Zoom" does the job, it would be fun to play with someone else. Playing with others, especially someone a little better than you are, is usually educational.

At this difficult time, maybe having a forum on "Interactive Sessions" would help. It could be used to provide information on what software is available, how to use the software, contacts which are interested in jamming with other players, etc.. Who knows, maybe this capability is not a temporary thing. It might become commonplace among some musicians.

Jun 12, 2020 - 7:37:27 AM

239 posts since 4/12/2005

The more things change, the more, well, ya know... for me it was in 2013, first day of medical school

Jun 24, 2020 - 9:47:59 AM

2194 posts since 4/5/2006

Live venues could happen & be insured were they to require liability wavers. Figure out a way to pre pay & check of a box for the waver, on your phone!

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