So we’re a few weeks into this quarantine thing. It’s a weird time and I still think none of us is too sure what we are supposed to be doing. It’s really hard to figure out the next steps when you are in a situation that none of us has ever been in before. We don’t even know the long term ramifications. Is live music just… gonna go away for a few years? Will this negatively impact physical sales in the long term? How is tour scheduling going to look in a post coronavirus age? These are all very legitimate questions that we have to ask ourselves and that we are going to struggle with. I wanted to give some insiders insight to what I’ve seen for the impact of coronavirus on manufacturing, booking shows, signing record deals and long term planning for your band.
4. How Is COVID-19 Impacting Manufacturing?
So fortunately thus far I think that most people have not been to negatively impacted in terms of manufacturing. While some labels have definitely had issues I’m inclined to believe that at least some of those labels are using manufacturing issues as an easy excuse to delay releases to a more economically stable time. This seems like it would be a time you could snag a really good deal on any sort of screen printed merch like shirts or similar because those people aren’t being thrown a lot of work at present. This will be differently impacted in different areas of the country, but certainly seems like something you could safely commission and then pick up after the fact.
3. When Will I Be Able To Book Shows Again?
The general consensus among bigger managers and agents seems to be that September 1 is the earliest date for this to happen, but few would be surprised if it got pushed to October 1. I have also spoken to managers who aren’t even bothering to book shows until 2021. What these people are all suggesting is that now is the time to record the album and use that as the jumping-off point for a busier next few years. The issue, of course, is that everyone is doing that right now. Still – do you want to be the one caught lagging when everyone else hits the ground running after we get through this madness? Yeah, I didn’t think so – so go out and take advantage of the time and write new material!
2. Can I Try To Sign A Record Deal Right Now?
This is going to be a case by case basis. What I will say is that most labels I work with are operating slower than usual right now for obvious reasons. They also are a little less likely to commit to release dates because things are getting backed up due to, yknow – economic insecurity. That being said – especially for product deals people seem to be locking in deals fairly consistently. In terms of stuff with bigger advances – that’s case by case. I will say this though – do you really think your band can justify receiving a several thousand dollar advance from a company going through dire straits? Can the company reasonably afford it? I’m not saying it’s impossible right now – but it seems less than likely.
1. How Should I Plan Around This Long Term?
Again – I hate to say it but I don’t REALLY know. What I can tell you is that coronavirus is scary and going to impact society for a while. The only real planning you can do is around the fact that things WILL get better and the bands who produce the most content are going to be the bands who win out of this in the long term. So just make sure you are out there keeping up the grind and staying safe. Taking dumb risks that get you sick isn’t going to benefit anybody. Instead just realize you need to hunker down, learn about video editing, compositional techniques and social media and grow from there. It’s really the only reasonable path forward that I see.
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Matt Bacon is a consultant, A&R man, and journalist specializing in the world of heavy metal. Having worked with everyone from Glam Rock icon Phil Collen of Def Leppard, to post Black Metal titans Alcest, by way of legendary thrashers Exhorder as well as labels including Prophecy Productions and Ripple Music, he has dedicated his life to helping young bands develop. Having started his own blog at the age of 14 he views his career in artist development as ‘a hobby that got out of hand’. In 2015 he formed Dropout Media in order to better support the artists he loves. We sit here now, years later with countless tours booked, records released and deals signed, and loving every minute of it.
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