Getting Ready To Gig Again: A Post-Covid Guide For Musicians
Maybe you used to make your living pre-covid from playing shows, or maybe it’s your first time treading the boards.
Either way, the live music scene after covid is going to be like nothing anyone has seen before.
While some musicians living in states with very lax covid restrictions have continued to play bar shows and local socially distanced concerts through the pandemic, for most players it’s been a time to stay home, find new ways to earn a living, and brush up on their sullen country music repertoire to deal with the lows of being away from a crowd. As the world reopens, there are several key ways that playing shows of any size is going to be an entirely different affair. Here’s our tips on a few of the things you’ll need to look out for.
Everyone will be gigging
In the span of a normal year for touring bands, there’s a couple of months of uptime followed by a couple of months of downtime, rinse and repeat. There’s also going to be entire years bands are at home either writing or recording new records. What this means that at any one time, there’s only a small subsection of touring bands out on the road.
With covid restrictions being lifted, everyone is going to be on uptime at the same time, trying to make back the money they missed out on during the oandemic.
For touring musicians, this means that you’re going to be facing incredible competition for audiences as ever another band in the US is out on tour at the same time. If you’re smart, you will have been spending the pandemic forging a bond with your audience, and now is the time to really solidify those connections and make your return shows an event they can’t miss.
People will take longer to warm up
One of the things that people have found themselves surprised by after months of lockdowns, masks and social distancing is flinching when they see people embrace on TV, or willingly walk into a crowd. Our brains have been reprogrammed to be careful around others on pain of death.
What this means is that when bars and clubs and concert venues reopen, people will take longer to loosen up and lose their stiffness than they would have prepandemic. If you’re used to having people dance in the first song or two, you may find nobody dances for a week or two. This is a situation where you’ll need to bring all your “master of ceremonies” skills into play, talking to the audience and finding ways to get them to loosen up and get into the show.
Your audience will be drunker than you’re used to
Early on in the pandemic, everyone was hitting the bottle hard to deal with the stress and isolation. However, after a few months people got bored of drinking alone, and started to realize the only things they could still do for fun revolved around the outdoors. 2020 was a great time for the exercise and outdoors industries and something of a disaster for booze slingers. So what does that mean for you? Well, people can’t drink like they used to, and guaranteed it’s going to take them a few nights out to really figure that out.
That means you have to be ready to deal with a much more inebriated, sloppy, unpredictable audience than you’re used to. Really the only way you can deal with this is leave your ‘A’ grade music gear at home (so nothing gets spilled on it) and bring your sense of humor.
You’re probably going to get sick pretty soon
Something people are starting to realize is that in 2020, they skipped over all those minor illnesses, 48 hour colds and mystery coughs they get in the course of a normal year. Who knew not being around people would also mean you don’t catch any weird illnesses that are going around. However, when everything reopens, you’re going to suddenly be exposed to all that stuff at once, and probably your immune system will have taken a break and maybe needs time to remember how to fight it off.
You can wear your mask as much as possible to delay the inevitable but be ready for a quick succession of minor illnesses. As far as dealing with this one, the best thing you can go is space out your initial shows to give yourself time to recover if you do catch anything.
2021 is going to be an exciting time as we get back out and see all the people – and bands – that we missed for the last year and change. As a musician you might just have the time of your life as people are hungry to make up for lost time.
Just make sure you come prepared!