Although many artists did their best to stay busy in 2020 still releasing projects and live streaming, there’s no doubt that financially, this year really hurt many of us. Without being able to take gigs, travel and tour or make in person appearances, a big chunk of our yearly revenue was lost. But with a little thought and creativity, many of us found ways to supplement some income so that the year wouldn’t be a total loss. While many spent hours live streaming and trying to stay in the publics eye, bands stepped into the studio to record new albums, a few DJ’s and producers released 45’s and cassettes with visual artists creating limited edition prints and works that catered to collectors that would’ve otherwise have gone to galleries to meet the artist in person. 2020 is without a doubt, the year of physical product.
I think we can all agree that 2020 has been a rather shit year but with the worst periods throughout history, some of the best art has been created and this year is no different. Artists being stuck at home had no choice but to think and put their best foot forward if they wanted to have their content seen or heard. I for one took that opportunity to start and finish projects that were released that otherwise would never have been done had I been traveling. And with the amount of physical product that was delivered from labels to my doorstep this year, it shows that time was not to be wasted if we wanted to survive these stressful and what will surely be memorable times.
When the pandemic first hit, I made the statement that the playing field is now leveled with big names and unknowns all being on the same elevator starting from ground zero and either going up to the penthouse or down to the basement. There would be no industry politics and bullshit to have to deal with because there was no longer an industry. It was every man / woman for themselves and it was up to them to figure out how they would get their product and brand to the consumer. Fast forward to the present and the outcome was not really what I expected to see. Many big names couldn’t figure out how to function without an industry behind them, while many of the unknowns have come out swinging and taken full advantage of social media with pushing their products. Independent labels and artists from across the globe that pushed funk, soul, jazz and disco releases heavily that have filled our crates are the real winners for vinyl collectors and DJ’s who continue to do their podcasts and radio shows. Without these labels, it would have been difficult to fill up hour long shows with new releases which is what many broadcasts focus on.
Love it or hate it, social media played a major factor in getting the word out. No longer was there a need for a PR team behind you if you had a social media presence and followers actively engaged in what you were doing. Most hate the term “tastemaker” but if you were hipped to something cool by someone else, then obviously you were affected by an “influencer”, both terms that have gotten a bad wrap in the social media age but are very much a part of it as well. With or without those titles, we all benefit from seeing something through someone else eyes or social media page and take advantage of it. But it’s up to you as an artist to push whatever content you have forward so that it can reach the maximum amount of subscribers to you brand.
So how did you spend your time as an artist this year? Do you feel that you’ve accomplished what you’ve set out to do or do you wish you could go back and do some things differently?