Covid-19 has led to a “really dire time” for those who work in the music industry with many wondering if and when they can get back to playing live again, singer-songwriter Eleanor McEvoy has said.
Ms McEvoy, who is the chair of the Irish Music Rights Organisation (IMRO), said revenues from music have "gone off a cliff" as most artists depend on touring for their incomes since royalties from streaming and physical product sales have tailed off in recent decades.
IMRO is one of a number of organisations behind Minding Creative Minds which will provide counselling and financial services to musicians.
The idea for a counselling service for musicians was in train before the pandemic began. The service was due to launch later this year, but its launch has been accelerated because of the pandemic which has shut down live music in most parts of the world.
McEvoy, best known as the writer of the song A Woman’s Heart, said the stress of having to make a living is inhibiting the creative ability of musicians to use the lockdown to write.
She said the stress is extended to all those working in the industry including promoters, sound and lighting people and those who run music venues.
Ms McEvoy said most artists do not make enough from royalties and that any hard copies of CDs that are sold are usually done at gigs.
“It’s absolutely crucial to be out there and on the road and, if you can’t be, you are in severe trouble. Being a musician at the best of times is tricky,” she said.
She added that live music was among the first activities to be closed down as a result of coronavirus and may be one of the last to open up.
There were real fears too that many smaller venues that were already struggling before the coronavirus pandemic will not reopen and so the options for artists touring will be more limited, she suggested.
Minding Creative Minds will offer a dedicated phone line, a counselling service and both legal and financial advice to musicians free of charge.
It was initiated by First Fortnight which uses the creative industries to tackle mental health issues. The Irish Recorded Music Association, Recorded Artists, Actors & Performers, and Universal Music Ireland are also involved along with IMRO in funding the service.
The extent to which the Covid-19 pandemic has affected the incomes of even successful acts was outlined by The Coronas manager Jim Lawless. He said the band derives between 80 and 90 per cent of its income from playing live.
Speaking at the virtual launch of Fuel, a new music venue in Camden Street, Dublin, Mr Lawless said the lockdown meant "our entire cash flow, our entire plans for the next 18 months just disappeared overnight. It's going to be the new normal. We are just going to have to get used to it and if you don't get used to it, you just won't exist".
Mr Lawless added that the band had “pretty much written off” 2020 for live concerts. He said the whole music industry was trying to figure out how to make up for the loss of income from live music.
“It’s not going to be just one band or one event company. It is going to take the industry to come together and solve those problems,” he said.