How professional musicians adapted to COVID-19

Courtesy of Melodic Exchange

By Elizabeth Offer

The music industry suffered over the summer with COVID restrictions delaying releases and moving artist collaboration online. Not only did COVID lower sales, close performance centers and studios, and cancel tours for large artists, but also hurt the local New York City music scene and changed the way that NYU artists create. 

While there are still artists busking in Washington Square Park despite the cold weather, both street and concert musicians were hit hard by the pandemic. With Lincoln Center closed, the New York Philharmonic set up a concert on the streets in October. Dubbed “The NY Phil Bandwagon,” they played a total of three shows around New York City this fall with the hope to bring back the mini-concerts in the spring. 

NYU musicians have also had to adapt to adverse conditions. Even before having to move their equipment into dorms, students faced difficulties writing during quarantine. NYU Tisch freshman Senaida Ng worked through quarantine to release her first EP “First Love” on July 20th of this year. 

Although quarantine forced everyone to spend more time at home, Senaida said “I was not motivated to work on music during quarantine because I felt no inspiration and my creativity felt stuck when I was at home.” Once motivation struck, musicians had to rely on home studios and recording equipment to execute their vision.

Discussing her March 2020 recording process, Senaida said, “I had booked a recording studio, engineer and musicians to record a string ensemble when Toronto shut down because of COVID-19. The session was cancelled but I still wanted to have live strings on my EP … I ended up asking all of the musicians to record themselves playing their part to a click track. Most of them don’t have professional recording equipment at home so they just recorded it on their phones. I compiled all of the recordings to emulate a string ensemble playing together. It was a bit more work to produce and engineer each recording but I’m really happy with how it turned out.”

Like many other students, Senaida was looking forward to joining music-based clubs that were cancelled for this school year. Dorm spaces are closed and with increased cleanings, Kimmel practice rooms are not always open or convenient, but other NYU resources are open and are giving music students ways to expand past their dorm studios. 

She said, “I only brought my guitar as well as most of my home studio (monitors, mics, cables, audio interface),” but “Now that I have access to the studios at Clive (at 370 Jay St. in Brooklyn), I’ve been recording in the production suites and larger studios/facilities there.” Hopefully, the new year will bring inspiration and work to artists as news of a vaccine being available soon gains credibility.

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