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Rhythm And Blues: Despite The Pandemic, Musicians Find Novel Ways To Reach An Audience

Artists use ingenuity to sustain their music and secure an income.

The pandemic has wreaked havoc in many industries, including music.

Many guitarists, pianists, violinists, drummers, and even singers, lost their livelihood as their income depended entirely on live performances.

Although the COVID-19 outbreak has generated a wave of unemployment at an unprecedented global level, it has also allowed thousands of people to demonstrate their ability to adapt.

Despite obstacles to overcome, musicians have not stopped playing, using their creativity to continue their artistry.

Some share their talent through social media. Some offer private concerts by video call, charging a lower fee than live events. Others keep practicing, so they do not lose their ability or desire to play. Their neighbors, who are also isolated, get to enjoy their afternoons with music in the air.

But the struggle has been difficult, despite the optimism and perseverance.

“Our presentations plummeted and with them, our income. Even so, we have not wavered,” said Rafael Santos Zamorano, director of the ‘Quinteto Mocambo,’ a Mexican group whose music has enjoyed national and international recognition.

Members of Quinteto Mocambo serenade the Virgin of Guadalupe in December. They say the frequency of their performances has plummeted. (Christian Valera Rebolledo/Café Words)

Music: a ray of light during tough times

The pandemic has been a hard blow for many, who have had to change their plans suddenly.

“There is no doubt the pandemic has hit us hard, we have been able to do so little work, and from there, we have had to reflect on our future,” said Santos Zamorano.

To survive, musicians of all kinds have shared their talents through YouTube, Facebook, Instagram or TikTok, going viral with fragments of popular songs or original pieces.

Another option is to share covers, since it shows respect for old songs, reinventing old classics for newer generations. For some, having new versions of their favorite songs can be enriching.

In neighborhoods around the world with terraces or balconies, artists choose certain times each week to rehearse. People do not ask them to leave. On the contrary, they ask them to continue to play, as they bring normalcy to a troubled world.

Musicians have had to find creative new ways to make it through the pandemic. Some play to keep people in good spirits. (Carlos Coronado/Unsplash)

In Mexico, people have made videos where they sing, at the top of their lungs from their rooftops, songs like ‘Ramito de Violetas,’ or ‘Resistiré México,’ as an anthem of resistance, strength and power.

Despite the struggle, many musicians continue to foster their talent. They know they can entertain and transmit peace to society through their lyrics and music.

Hundreds of festivals have been broadcasted online to remind people they can still enjoy performances without fear of crowds and contagion.

Musicians accept that sacrifices are sometimes necessary for the good of all.

“We have hope nowadays with the vaccines, but it is coming at a slow pace. It is a survival situation where we must all take care of ourselves, even if it entails losses,” said Santos Zamorano.

Several groups managed to organize and raise awareness about the importance of staying at home, with songs or positive messages from their digital profiles.

Musicians in Cuba, Spain, Mexico and Canada have set the example with new compositions and projects that capitalize on creativity, talent and the desire to make music.

They have produced their new songs at home, creating simple videos of excellent quality to sustain their art.

(Translated and edited by Mario Vázquez. Edited by Fern Siegel.)