Coronavirus (COVID-19): How Classical Musicians Can Earn Money in the Midst of This Crisis

Updated: Mar 22, 2020

These are difficult and trying times. Are there things that classical musicians can do to mitigate the suffering?



Ready or not, the coronavirus is upon us. Terms like "self-quarantine" and "social distancing" have become a part of everyday speech.


People are feeling isolated, stressed, and fearful. States like California have issued orders to "stay at home".


Businesses are being forced into temporary shutdown. Professional sports associations like the NBA have suspended games.


Coronavirus doesn't discriminate. It doesn't care if you are rich or poor, Black or White, Democrat or Republican. If you are exposed to it, you can be infected by it.


Obviously, these are very serious and ominous times.


If you are a professional classical musician, chances are, you are facing the possibility of temporary unemployment. The Oregon Symphony, for example, just laid off 76 musicians, 19 staff, and two conductors. These musicians don't get paid unless they work. Sadly, many of them will lose their health benefits as well.


If you're looking for a little bit of inspiration, here's what some of the musically inclined folks in Italy did while being quarantined...


This is what I call making some good out of a particularly bad situation. I believe we can all do similar.


As a result, I want to spend some time talking about some things that we can do to get through the worst part of this.


Musicians tend to be very creative and many of them are using their skill set to find ways of earning income.


It is during this time — a time when the world desperately seeks peace, hope, and inspiration — that music needs to continue to be an integral part of our culture, and so "the show must go on".


Creative earning potential

Let's face it, in the age of modern technology, being confined to your home doesn't mean you can't be productive. So, what can you do?


If you are a musician, here are some things other musicians are doing:


  • Teaching students online

Many musicians have found success teaching students online. While the practice has been going on for some time, it's becoming a more popular way to earn income in recent weeks.


  • Streaming performances

The Washington Post featured a great article about this. While pop artists are more likely to generate revenue this way, streaming can be an option for small classical ensembles as well as solo musicians.


  • Producing and selling recordings or albums

If you have the skills and expertise, audio production is one of the endeavors that musicians can virtually do alone. If you know someone who has the expertise, you can get help while maintaining social distancing. Quality recordings can be a good source of income.


Here is something we ALL can do:


We can continue to support musicians during this time. They deserve it, and the world will be better for it.


Bottom line

We are in the middle of a global pandemic, which means that things may very well get worse before they get better. Hopefully, the things I've talked about here will help to make things just a little bit easier for some of us.


One final point... It is during this time — a time when the world desperately seeks peace, hope, and inspiration — that music needs to continue to be an integral part of our culture, and so "the show must go on".


Hopefully the coronavirus hasn't been too stressful for any of you. What are you doing to provide income for yourself and your household?


Don't forget to leave your comments below….