Ideas to Survive Lockdown as a Musician/Busker/Performer

The world is changing, it’s always changing. But recently with the troublesome events of ‘Coronavirus’, it’s changed so rapidly. Because of this I worry for many things, especially the health of my grandparent’s, my Nan came down with Pneumonia over Christmas 2019, and her chest generally picks up any flu going around, I pray daily for her safety.

It’s hit the entertainment industry quite hard, as well as pretty much all industries. Streets are empty, cities on lockdown, people in quarantine and physical cash being avoided, it seems busking (as we know it) is somewhat compromised, for the time being. There is a general response from busker all over the globe to ‘Busk Virtually’ (i.e. Charlotte Campbell, = Livestream video, who is often found entertaining the tourists of London down South Bank). Many already do busk virtual, websites like – Street Jelly  and Twitch, give a platform for performers to showcase their art to an audience of potentially millions, with donation buttons for the listeners to thank the performers. It’s a growing theme that has now gotten a lot more attention – “I can’t hit the streets, my gigs are all cancelled, what the f*k do I do?” – I’m sure it’s not just me who’s been thinking this day in and day out.

So for those who make a living from busking and general music performances, we’re all asking…

….what the **** do I do?

I don’t hold the answers, just some ideas on what we can do in times like these. I hope they help.

Virtual Tip Jar (paypal.me/jameschatfield)

The easiest way someone can throw a donation/virtual-tip your way is ‘paypal.me’. With a simple swish and flick, you can drop a donation of your choice to that person. You can edit the link to add a certain amount i.e. (https://www.paypal.me/jameschatfield/1) = £1 (…go on then 😉 …) 
Set up a live stream on Facebook & add a virtual tip jar = potential earnings. You’re not guaranteed lots of tips and you may even get no tips. We’re in a culture that is continuously fed content from all sorts of performers and entertainment platforms, so we’re used to watching things for free and the virtual tip jars are somewhat new to us. But putting out as much content as you can with a ‘paypal.me’ link in there will help, there have been times where I’ve had a random donation, and emailed with thanks and discovering they found it through an old youtube video or something. So keep these links on your content i.e. in your YouTube video descriptions. Maybe I’ll get a notification from a donation from you lovely reader right now! 🙂 (See Video Description)

Monthly Subscriptions (https://www.patreon.com/chatfield

Patreon was introduced to me by Amanda Palmer (patreon.com/amandapalmer), who spoke about the ‘art of asking’ during a TED speech. A platform in which creators can give more to their fans and where fans can gift a monthly donation of their choice. Certain price ranges offer certain rewards i.e. I have a $15+ reward gifting letters/postcards, from travels. You can get really creative and come up with any kind of reward for the fans – personal songs, house concerts (although that might not be a thing right now), personalised pottery gifts? Literally anything within your realms of creation.
Think of it like subscribing to Netflix or a Magazine you get monthly. You are an entertainment source providing for your fans. If your fans enjoy it enough and can afford it, they’ll subscribe and you get to build a really cool community between the two parties!

There are other platforms with this kind of feature, one I recently discovered was https://ko-fi.com/ – which gives both donation options and subscription options, as though it’s combining the two ideas above 🙂 It’s worth a look!

Twitch also has a subscription option too! So that’s worth a look.

Bandcamp (chatfieldtheaudiojournal.bandcamp.com)

Easily the best place for independent artists to self-release and manage their music. A super easy platform to upload your music and get paid. The best thing is, you can set a price of your choosing and those who are purchasing can pay anything they want too! You price your EP for £3, someone can choose to pay £3 onwards, perhaps even £300?! Imagine that, a friend Steve Lawson is a master of Bandcamp, go check out his stuff! Bandcamp also has a ‘subscription’ option, with Steve, you pay £30 (or more) a year and get all the music he’s ever released – which is an insane quantity (and quality). 

Other Ideas

Jump onboard social media platforms and collaborate with other creatives. Join the Facebook groups that are piecing together online performances/virtual open mics etc. Get creative with how you perform via livestream- performances for specific audiences, get your kids involved, paint and play, go to the beach and sing some summer songs. Live stream whilst you record your next album (i.e. Netwon Faulkner Studio Zoo). Do whatever it is you love to do and keep sharing it with the world, in a way that unites us 🙂


These ideas listed, are currently my main focus on surviving this lockdown as a musician who would usually make a living from street performing and playing shows. I feel it’s a good start, and I can only see it building upwards the more work I put into it. It’s going to be tough for sure, this situation is tough for all of us across the globe. Together we must unite and aid one another in any way we can. I hope my music can help in some way, it’s all I’ve ever wanted, to create music and bring joy to people. It’s the reason I do this.

It’s been amazing to see the response on Facebook for online gig groups, this evening I performed at a ‘Virtual Open Mic’ which was brilliant! : )

Previous to this I performed a longer set on my Facebook page;

https://www.facebook.com/basschatfield/?fref=gs&dti=367677023983452&hc_location=group_dialog

It’s been a really great response so far! Very thankful for those who have watched, shared and tipped 🙂

I wish you all look during the coming months we’ve ahead of us.

2 thoughts on “Ideas to Survive Lockdown as a Musician/Busker/Performer

  1. I don’t make my living from music, but it has filled a lot of my spare time. My band, which usually plays at retirement homes, is temporarily disbanded or at least socially distanced. Even so, I thought I should brave the elements and try to give the natives something else to talk about besides the usual darkness in the echo chamber (see link below)

    I wasn’t actually busking – my case was closed. I think these are the times people really need to hear music. Find whatever means possible to get out there and do your music.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Completely agree Walter, music brings so much to us and not being able to go outside and see a live band of musicians is tough. Fortunately there are a lot of platforms for people to share music on during this highly connected internet age! 🙂
      The video is brilliant! An inspiration to do something like that myself. Thank you!

      Like

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