Before the pandemic, Ayana Haviv, a professional singer based in Los Angeles, relied on income from live performances with the Los Angeles Master Chorale and the LA Opera Chorus. She also recorded music for movies, TV shows and video games — all of which involved projecting her voice in close proximity to other musicians and audience members, often indoors.
The transition to working from home wasn’t exactly a smooth one.
“Singing is a superspreading activity. So when the pandemic hit, really quickly it became apparent that we wouldn’t be able to sing again with other people — probably until there is a vaccine,” said Haviv. “I was looking at, you know, no work. Everything was basically shut down.”
After a few months of collecting unemployment, she noticed a shift in the industry.
“People started realizing [that] we’re not going to be in the same room making music together anytime soon. So let’s start recording at home.”
First she got some solo gigs that she recorded herself in her home studio. And then she started doing group choir recordings where each singer records themselves individually and everything is mixed together afterwards.
“It’s not nearly as emotionally satisfying or musically rewarding, but it sounds kind of surprisingly good for us all recording at home,” she said.
Once, Haviv herself took on the responsibility of coordinating a 32-person choir and ensuring each singer’s part was recorded in high-quality.
“Which was very challenging, but also rewarding. And in the end, we came up with something that we could really be proud of,” she said.
Even though Haviv had done some home recording work before the pandemic, she always preferred doing live performances and recording with other musicians in real time.
“I’m a very social person, like most singers, and the whole process of musical back and forth — you can’t get that when you’re just by yourself in your closet,” said Haviv. “But now I’m just so grateful that I have any musical work at all.”
She just hopes the organizations that used to employ performers like her are still around once the virus finally subsides.