Was COVID-19 a disaster or an opportunity for indie artists?

Published - May 26, 2021 07:08 pm IST

More than a year has passed since the COVID-19 pandemic affected everyone around the world and musicians—signed and independent—were one of the most affected.


Even though it’s almost over for Americans and the rest of the West, for the majority of 7B people around the world it will still be a long way to go before concerts will be back again. Many of the established and up and coming musicians have made some introspection and decided to abandon a career in music entirely, go on a hiatus...and then there are those few lucky and indestructible chaps who are actually thriving during the pandemic.


The pandemic was and is obviously bad for all of us but it brings out the good too especially if you try to look for the brighter side of things.


Here are some of the things that drastically changed in the music industry due to the pandemic:




Tours and performances are where a big portion of the music industry’s sales come from so this is a big blow to the artists’ careers and finances. They will have a hard time gaining more fans and listeners and as such, will have fewer people that will buy their merch and albums.


Last year, Harry Styles needed to cancel his show for Carson City, United States. iHeart Radio also cancelled their 2020 Wango Tango concert. And even the legend Bob Dylan cancelled his US summer tour because of the pandemic. Many artists have cancelled, postponed, and rescheduled their concert tours.


If you think that concerts are not much and that buying digital albums and outselling physical albums are more important, then you thought wrong. Sales from those are just some change money when compared to outselling tickets for stadiums, arenas, and concert halls.


For 2019, the highest grossing tour was Pink’s “Beautiful Trauma Tour” which started in March 2018 and ended November 2019. It garnered a total of $215,200,000 for the 68 shows and 1,818,933 attendees it had.


Take note, that was just one artist’s concert tour. imagine all the money if we look at other artists’ concert revenues too.


And while we marvel at how much money concert tours bring in, let’s look at 2020’s highest grossing tour. Elton John’s “Farewell Yellow Brick Road” tour, the year’s highest grossing tour, only had $87, 100, 000 with only 38 shows and 644, 749 attendees. Sure that much money is not to be downplayed, but when we compare it to 2019’s then that would be quite small, right? In addition, the number of attendees and shows also reflect the effect of the pandemic that restricts us from freely navigating through places and from having mass gatherings.




Since there is lesser income due to cancelled tours and gigs indie pop artists are forced to use up all the savings they have. Instead of saving that money some more, they were forced to spend it all on their rent, utility fees, and more.


One indie music artist, Debórah Bond, whose genre is RnB and soul, was living in a small rental unit in Hyattsville, Maryland. Since she’s a full time musician and gets her income from tons of vocal gigs like performing live in weddings, bars, and theaters, it has been really hard for her. And she had to use her savings to survive.


What’s worse in this situation is that they can’t release singles or albums because of the lack of budget. If they do push through it, they will surely be having a hard time. Even if they don’t release their songs in physical albums like CDs, cassette tapes, or vinyl records, and have them released digitally, they will still spend some money for that.


Now that we’ve given you the disasters caused by the pandemic, we would also like to present the opportunities it gave for our signed and indie music artists.




Since the pandemic does not allow people to go out, some artists have been out of the spotlight for a while now. While some may be taking a break from it and just living the normal life, some may be cooped up in their own creativity bubble cooking up songs to surprise their fans or just express themselves.


An example for this would be Taylor Swift, although of course she’s capable of being creative during this distressing time, but still. Her “Folklore” album won Album of the Year in the 63rd Grammy Awards. It also topped US Billboard 200 for 8 consecutive weeks making it 2020’s best-selling album. The album was made in the early months of the pandemic where Taylor had more time to watch movies and read books that eventually inspired her to write the tracks on the album.


In addition to this, there has been an increased number of singles and albums being released every day from all over the world. And with nearly 70% indie music artists using this time to create and write music, we’ll have to brace ourselves for the volume of music releases in the next months.




Since people have been bored to death with being locked in their own homes, they have been using social media for much longer compared to before. With the increasingly active social media users, this can be taken as an opportunity by artists to promote themselves in place of the usual gigs.


Most artists have also become active in social media. They update more frequently with their posts, tweets, stories, and lives. An example would be Johnny Orlando, an 18 year old music artist. He is very active on Instagram and promotes his upcoming songs there. He also posts videos of him covering songs. It’s a good way to promote him since most of the songs he cover are those loved by many.


Additionally, IG live battles held by Verzuz also helps artists promote themselves by showcasing their talent in battle. This IG live battle was born because of the pandemic and I guess it became a huge blessing for most of the participants.




Yes, this is an opportunity for musicians. With the comeback of vinyl records, artists will not only be able to showcase their musical prowess but also their talent in visual arts. Vinyl records have many available spaces for the designs they would be able to think of. They can design the vinyl jackets as well as the inner vinyl record sleeves. In addition to this, vinyl records can be designed too, so it will really be full of their touch.


There are many vinyl record designs. They can choose to have vinyl in black or other plain colors, or a mixture of colors. They can also have clear transparent vinyl, vinyl with designs like glitter, blood, leaves, etc., glow in the dark vinyl, picture disc vinyl and differently shaped vinyl.


Here are some of the best custom vinyl records of 2020. And hey, if you’re planning to order some vinyl, you can visit UnifiedMFG vinyl pressing as they are one of the best custom vinyl record manufacturers in Los Angeles.


● Duval Timothy’s “Next Tomorrow” with a vinyl jacket and two vinyl record sleeves that showcase excellent photography skills


● Yves Tumor’s “Heaven to a Tortured Mind” which has a white and black vinyl and a jacket that exhibits great digital art skills.


● Dua Lipa’s “Future Nostalgia” which has her face on the picture disc vinyl


● The Microphones’ “The Microphones in 2020” with it’s very aesthetic cover concept


And that’s the end of it.

To answer the question whether COVID-19 was a disaster or an opportunity for indie artists, the answer is both. Yes, it has caused a disaster but has also given numerous opportunities.

Some made the most of it, some are ruined by it. If you’re one of those who got something good from the pandemic, good on you. But if it has greatly affected your music career, it’s okay. Nothing can take away your talent and passion.

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