FROM being booked out for months in advance to having no gigs lined up for the foreseeable future, musicians across the Central West have had to think outside the box to keep the beats going during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Bathurst music personality Lauren Hagney, who makes up half of rock duo Momentum, said the pair instantly lost more than 12 weeks of work due to the coronavirus pandemic.
"We were booked solidly almost until the end of the year, at least twice a week and we've instantly lost about 12 weeks of work," she said.
"There's no real signs as of yet as to when pubs and clubs will get back on their feet. Their budgets are limited and that's not extending to the costs of live music just yet."
Miss Hagney said things are still really tough for all musicians.
"At the start of self-isolation, we started going live for two-hours on our Facebook page once a fortnight, on Saturday nights. It was similar to busking in the sense that people could donate money if they wanted to help support us, but that wasn't the aim, we just wanted to do something to lift people's spirits," she said.
"We went out to 4000 people at a time across five different countries."
Dubbo singer-songwriter Clinton Hoy said although the lockdown period has been tough for performers, there have been some benefits.
"From the perspective of a singer-songwriter this lockdown period has had some benefits, believe it or not," he said.
"As a solo artist there have been a lot of opportunities through media platforms to make deeper connections with an audience," he said.
"I can talk about the stories behind my songs and I can interact with the people who are watching - and you can be sure that whoever is there is watching because they're interested and they want to watch, you don't feel like background music.
"I've noticed an upsurge in my Spotify streams and have gotten more than a few sign-ups for an experiment where I release my new record via email. I have a lot of irons in the fire so to speak - but I know that friends of mine who rely on live gigs have suffered.
"It's important to recognise musicians are businesses too and when we're all back out supporting local shops and cafes and pubs that the people providing the music should get some love too."
Orange country singer-songwriter Clancy Pye said social media has given her a platform to share her music throughout this time.
"When restrictions first came into place the entertainment industry was one of the first to come to a halt. Venues and events that I was booked to play at were forced to close. I haven't played a live gig since mid-March," she said.
"I first started playing gigs regularly from 12 years of age and this has by far been the longest time I've had away from performing. I certainly miss it and am looking forward to being able to perform again, however it has also allowed me to spend more time on songwriting and releasing music.
"I released my debut single and music video Get Lost on May 22 and have a further single and EP ready to release in the coming months so I've used the time away from performing to focus on getting those projects over the line."
Miss Pye said the community can help singers and musicians stay afloat by downloading their music on Spotify, Apple Music, iTunes, buying their merchandise or CDs and keeping up-to-date with their latest projects through their social media pages.
First to go, possibly the last to return
Bars, clubs, pubs and other venues were the first to close when the coronavirus pandemic hit Australia, leaving the music industry in shambles.
Arts Out West spokesperson Steven Cavanagh said although the industry's return to normalcy is coming at a slowly place, it is, nonetheless, coming.
"The live entertainment industry was one of the first to go and it is looking as though it will also be the last return," Mr Cavanagh said.
"We're really just waiting on Government directions as to when we can start having large gatherings, concerts and festivals again."
Mr Cavanagh said there has however, been 'some grimaces of hope' for the return of live performances.
"I know of a few artists who have had one or two gigs at bars and restaurants, so that goes to show how some places are operating; it goes to show that slowly but sure things will eventually amp back up for the industry," he said.
Slowly but sure things will eventually amp back up for the industry.Arts Out West spokesperson Steven Cavanagh
"It's good to see that there are some kind of live performances happening, but with limits in place on the number of people bars and venues can house it's hard to say when things will pick up.
Mr Cavanagh said when live performances stopped artists were quick to jump online.
"Many artists have been using their online presence to continue performing. Some of them have been accepting donations," he said.
Mr Cavanagh said many musicians have struggled financially as those who rely on gigs as their main source of income have had limited to no financial support.
"Those whose man source of income comes from gigs have been out of pay for months now. Musicians aren't eligible for Job Keeper Allowance or other benefits, so some have literally had no financial support."
"There is a number of charity organisations online such as I Lost My Gig which people can donate to to help support both local artists and artists across the country."
Mr Cavanagh said another way to support our local artists is by keeping an eye out on their social media pages and websites.
"There are plenty of young musicians out there that are using a number of different ways to continue generating money, so look out for ways you can help and do some research," he said.
"I would even recommend giving your local conservatorium or other music organisations a call and seeing if they know of anything you could do to help support musicians in your city."
Is there a date in the pipeline?
Bands and fans are still wondering if live music going to return to normal later this year for summer, or are industry lovers going to have to wait for 2021 for the music scene?
Following an announcement last week by the NSW Government, it is looking like we can expect a positive turn of events as early as November.
The State Government announced more than 1000 coronavirus-safe gigs will go ahead, as long as people are complying with the four-square meter rule, in November in a drive to boost artists, hospitality workers, music lovers and the struggling industry.
Industry research by Music NSW showed that pre-coronavirus live music generated approximately $3.6 billion and 23,000 jobs for the economy in NSW alone.
The Great Southern Nights initiative announced on Saturday brings together dozens of artists to perform a series of concerts across the state.
This celebration of outstanding Australian artists and incredible live music venues gives us all something to look forward to.Minister for Jobs, Investment, Tourism and Western Sydney Stuart Ayres
Minister for Jobs, Investment, Tourism and Western Sydney Stuart Ayres said the initiative is a great way to kick start the live music sector after COVID-19.
"We all know that the live music industry has been absolutely smashed by the COVID-19 shut downs, and it hasn't just been the musicians, it's been the venues, staff, basically everyone that keeps these shows on the road," Mr Ayres said.
"This celebration of outstanding Australian artists and incredible live music venues gives us all something to look forward to.
All gigs will each need to follow the most up-to-date advice on venue size limits and social distancing requirements.
Mr Ayres said it is the first step towards the industry returning to pre-COVID-conditions.
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