What do musicians do in a world in lockdown?

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One of my most admired composers, Baron Andrew Lloyd Webber, has recently been very active on social media, sharing his views on music, discussing life experiences, and encouraging us to “stay strong and stay home.” Back in April, Global Citizen (https://www.globalcitizen.org/en/), an organization aimed at ending world poverty, hosted the “Together at Home” virtual live music concert in support of the World Health Organization. This global music event boasted a stellar line-up of stars, from Andrew Bocelli and Celine Dion to Shawn Mendes and Lady Gaga, and was intended to spread positivity, care, and love to all of us living in lockdown.

No one can say they enjoy staying home 24×7. That said, this lockdown has also given musicians the rare chance to step out of our comfort zones and learn to be creative in newer, more striking ways to turn this dire situation into an uplifting opportunity. While many of us are out of work – be they session musicians, orchestra musicians, or music teachers – the marvel of technology has enabled us to stay connected to the world through live streams, Zoom conferences, and social media. This is particularly true for musicians who have truly mastered their craft and are able to perform live. “Live streaming” a performance on the internet means there is no chance of cheating or deception; you MUST know how to play your instrument or sing well. In other words, live streaming only works for artists who can perform live and communicate with the audience in real time.

Music teachers are now able to offer classes online, and bands are able to jam via collaboration platforms like Zoom. None of this would be possible without the proliferation of the internet. As an artist and musician, creating music alone is no longer enough. We also need to learn how to add value to our skills by making our music accessible to the global audience. There are plenty of musicians and composers who refuse to use technology to promote their art. I fear that this refusal to evolve is indirectly a refusal to broaden their “distribution” channels, which would eventually limit their reach to audiences that have previously loved and enjoyed their music.

At the age of 72, Baron Andrew Lloyd Weber is not only a highly successful and influential composer, he is also someone who has shown the willingness to embrace technology and connect with his fans and admirers via social media. This is an important reminder to all artists and musicians that being in lockdown does not mean we need to be cut off from our audience or stop being creative.

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