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Summer looks different for musicians this year

Andie Corban Jul 2, 2020
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A stage in Las Vegas in 2015. In 2020, it's hard for musicians to find performance venues. Ethan Miller/Getty Images
COVID-19

Summer looks different for musicians this year

Andie Corban Jul 2, 2020
Heard on:
A stage in Las Vegas in 2015. In 2020, it's hard for musicians to find performance venues. Ethan Miller/Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
COPY

Chicago-based musician Seth Shulman has been out of work since March, when the school he teaches music lessons at shut down and gig work ended.

“Unemployment [insurance] didn’t really work out so well,” Shulman said. “I’ve been calling them back and trying to figure something out, but it doesn’t look so good.”

Since March, Shulman has been teaching music lessons online. Now he has around 20 students. “Teaching is keeping me alive,” he said. “I could always use more students just to keep my car payments and student loans going, which I’ve deferred on. It’s nice that you can do that, but I just really want to get those things paid off and not have that haunt my life for the next 20 years.”

As we head into July, Shulman’s summer is looking a bit different from the usual. He said he typically plays three to five gigs a week, most of which aren’t happening this year because of the coronavirus. However, he and his band recently did a show in Los Angeles at the Whiskey a Go Go.

“It’s a pretty famous venue, and they offered us to do a livestream there,” Shulman said. “In our show, we’re a tribute band, and there’s usually a whole crowd part which really couldn’t happen. So, you just kind of have to pretend that you’re in front of people. You technically are, but you’re not. It’s super-bizarre.”

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COVID-19 Economy FAQs

So what’s up with “Zoom fatigue”?

It’s a real thing. The science backs it up — there’s new research from Stanford University. So why is it that the technology can be so draining? Jeremy Bailenson with Stanford’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab puts it this way: “It’s like being in an elevator where everyone in the elevator stopped and looked right at us for the entire elevator ride at close-up.” Bailenson said turning off self-view and shrinking down the video window can make interactions feel more natural and less emotionally taxing.

How are Americans spending their money these days?

Economists are predicting that pent-up demand for certain goods and services is going to burst out all over as more people get vaccinated. A lot of people had to drastically change their spending in the pandemic because they lost jobs or had their hours cut. But at the same time, most consumers “are still feeling secure or optimistic about their finances,” according to Candace Corlett, president of WSL Strategic Retail, which regularly surveys shoppers. A lot of people enjoy browsing in stores, especially after months of forced online shopping. And another area expecting a post-pandemic boost: travel.

What happened to all of the hazard pay essential workers were getting at the beginning of the pandemic?

Almost a year ago, when the pandemic began, essential workers were hailed as heroes. Back then, many companies gave hazard pay, an extra $2 or so per hour, for coming in to work. That quietly went away for most of them last summer. Without federal action, it’s mostly been up to local governments to create programs and mandates. They’ve helped compensate front-line workers, but they haven’t been perfect. “The solutions are small. They’re piecemeal,” said Molly Kinder at the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program. “You’re seeing these innovative pop-ups because we have failed overall to do something systematically.”

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