As we all know, in 2020, the global pandemic affected many labor sectors, and the music industry was no exception. Thousands of people who are dedicated to music were severely affected. Despite the fact that many musicians resorted to different alternatives to be able to continue making presentations, such as streaming, for example, these do not replace the experience or the income generated from live performances, and one of the problems with this new modality, is that there are not business models clearly established for artists; being donations the most direct form of monetization for their work. However, obtaining significant or at least a fair income from streaming is very difficult and many artists have had to learn new ways of performing as they go along. So, there are many different situations and challenges for artists around the world. There are artists that even had to pause their music career completely to dedicate themselves to totally different things so there are many new challenges for the musicians in general.
Casandra Velderrain: Today in JRN203, we have Nathan Page -member of the folk metal band Adavänt which has been active in the Arizona metal music scene for around 14 years- he would tell us what it has been like to face the challenges of the global pandemic for a professional musician.
So first of all, thank you Nathan for taking the time to do this interview and now we want to hear:
How were your activities as a musician affected when the pandemic hit?
Nathan Page: A lot of the time I would spend as a musician was practicing for concerts and performing them. Since those were not happening, I had a lot more time to branch out creatively with my music. I learned a few new instruments and spent a lot more time writing than I normally would. The band has made some big changes to our sound now and we have adjusted the lineup. While not being able to play shows had a lot of drawbacks, we were able to make the most of it and write a 4th full-length album.
Casandra Velderrain: In what different ways did not being able to play any more live performances affected you?
Nathan Page:Not being able to perform live had a huge impact on me and most of the musicians I know. There were several shows, a festival, and a west coast tour lined up for me to play that were all canceled. Missing out on those opportunities not only halted my career as a musician but also caused me to have some financial trouble. Concerts are the main source of income for a band, so without them, we were very limited when deciding what to do last year. Our fanbase growth was also greatly diminished. We often gain lots of fans by playing shows with popular bands from around the world. Since those shows were not happening, our only source of promotion was online.
Casandra Velderrain: Did you found an alternative to continue sharing your work with your audience?
Nathan Page: We tried a few alternatives to share our work with people. The main one was streaming live playthroughs of songs or covers. We had a Lord of the Rings piano cover that received some decent views but didn’t gain us many new followers. We also tried streaming some practices, but the audio quality was not that great. It costs a lot to get a good quality streaming setup that worked for an entire band. We decided to spend the pandemic working on new music and some changes to the band instead of promoting.
Casandra Velderrain: Now, we have the possibility to see our family and friends, with precautions but with a little more freedom than at the beginning of the pandemic and, we know you are playing in a band with several members; so, did the band implemented alternatives to keep working or practicing together?
Nathan Page: We initially made a lot of adjustments to keep practices going. We took a hiatus where we only practiced on our own. Eventually, we started meeting with just 2-3 members, making sure to quarantine before and after. We had a couple of members who could not practice for months still due to risks from their work. We would send them recordings of parts and lyrics so they could work on them at home while the others continued practicing. Thankfully, most of us are vaccinated now and we are able to practice as a full band again.
Casandra Velderrain: Now it seems that we are returning to “normality”, but it is a slow process. The pandemic changed the way we see and do things and a good thing to highlight is the new skills we all learned. Nathan Page, it has been a pleasure to hear about your experience, thank you very much again for your time. We wish you the best of luck in your future musical projects, and for our readers: we will meet again in another article of JRN203.