Student Musicians Displaced During Lockdown

By Sumaita Hasan

As New York City enters its fifth week in lockdown, many find themselves struggling to maintain jobs in the music industry. Students in particular, who were accustomed to playing live gigs or shows, are facing new challenges as social distancing continues. 

Ella Blicker, a junior at Hunter College, has turned to social media to promote her music. She states, “During the lockdown, I’ve had time to make a Tik Tok account. I’ve had more time to create videos on social media and it has generated a much larger audience than playing live gigs ever did. My audience is wider than ever due to Tik Tok and the chance of a video going viral and reaching millions [is much greater].” Ella previously played gigs around New York City in venues such as Rockwood Music Hall. Earlier this year, she released her single “Don’t Got Time,” which she continues to promote on platforms like YouTube. Now, her videos on TikTok reach millions of viewers, and she has over 60,000 followers. 

Kylie Grosmark, a sophomore at Hunter College, had to halt the production of her music video due to the lockdown, though she developed an animation for her upcoming single “Cigarette Boy,” which she promoted on Instagram. She explains, “Before the lockdown, a lot of my promotion was word of mouth because I hadn’t announced any release dates yet. I find myself only able to advertise through social media.” 

“The listening audience is wider during quarantine because no one has anything to do, so music streamed per hour has gone up dramatically since the stay at home orders were issued,” she adds. 

Like many musicians, Ella has lost a job in the music field due to new social distancing rules. “I was a music teacher to two young students. I would give them lessons at home and provide instrumental instruction. Although the company I worked for, Blue Balloon Songwriting, has now moved to remote online lessons, both of my students have decided to stop receiving lessons,” she states. 

Ella laments the loss of jobs for many others. “Although I do not rely on gigs for money, so many musicians are struggling to pay their bills due to this crisis. Musicians, and all entertainers, are no longer able to perform live at restaurants, bars, and other venues. It is hard for a musician to make a living in general, and this crisis only makes it more difficult. Many of my dad’s friends who play gigs every night have lost their entire stream of income, and are now looking for corporate jobs to support themselves,” she says. 

Access to studios has also posed a new challenge for those who do not have the equipment at home. Kylie adds, “The virus has impacted everyone financially, and almost everything with music costs money. Licensing for software is expensive. Equipment, production costs, and web hosting are just a few things that have been impacted because of loss of income.” Some free programs such as Audacity and MuseScore are great ways to supplement creations if access to professional studios or programs is limited. 

You can follow Ella at ellablickermusic on Instagram, Ella.blix on TikTok, Ella Blicker on YouTube, and Ella Blicker Musicon Facebook. You can follow Kylie at LVAGRL on Instagram and all streaming platforms.

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