• Nieve O'Donnell

Opinion: COVID-19 and music

As we all self-isolate, local businesses and music venues are struggling - how can we continue to support our beloved industry whilst staying safe and preserving our own mental health?


Just a week after The Mic x UoN Amnesty’s incredibly successful charity gig at renowned Nottingham venue The Bodega, coronavirus has recently been the cause of unfortunate turnouts for small businesses and cultural checkpoints such as the venues that curate and re-write Nottingham’s sparkling music scene. Despite these uncertain and unprecedented times, there are many ways we can all contribute to Nottingham’s venues; these are the venues that endlessly and continually allow us all to connect with each other and with music.


With the government’s lack of assertiveness in supporting our cultural points of reference, many independent and local businesses are being forced to stay open, despite the hopeless bulwark of inevitably making a loss without help or compensation. Many have already closed their doors without any welfare for those left unemployed for an unknown amount of time. Some that fit specific criteria can access some help yet are still faced with significant and unanswered questions. How far will the government’s microscopic support go? How long will our independent businesses be left to cope?

'Despite these uncertain and unprecedented times, there are many ways we can all contribute to Nottingham’s venues; these are the venues that endlessly and continually allow us all to connect with each other and with music'.

Some very vulnerable venues have started seeking support by offering GoFundMe pages. Why not donate what you would usually spend on a pint? A little can go a long way. A lot of venues also offer merchandise online, and who doesn’t want to represent their local usually-cool-place-to-be whilst on Facetime? Support of the venues’ social media sites may go a long way too, providing recognition of the public’s interest in what venues have to offer and their role to play in society. They are, for many, places of solace, creative freedom, willingness, activism, protest and love. At such a time, spreading these values is crucial if we are to uplift spirits and help one another.


Support your favourite or local bands and artists by buying their vinyl and banging out the record player to annoy your self-isolated household-sharers, or simply for pleasure – up to you. Equally, why not have a sing along in the house or with your friends using our trustworthy tools, Skype and Facetime? Leeds-born and Nottingham-based poet Ella Burns-Robbins has even proposed the idea of a digital open-mic for artists, which would achieve the practise of social distancing and the practice of each person’s valued, respective art forms. Buy an album online or get a digital version alongside and learn every single word so that when your favourite artist’s tour is no longer postponed, you’re fully prepared.

'If we all try our best to look after each other and ourselves, our return to our well-loved venues should be an enriching one that we can all look forward to'.

Nevertheless, supporting your own mental health is just as important as supporting our well-loved and historically entrenched scenes of music. If you have access to a musical instrument in your household, there’s proof that learning a new instrument could make you smarter. You can also show off to your friends and break out of your comfort zone after 12 weeks of self-isolation at an open mic, perhaps? Whether in quarantine, self-isolation or indoors because of the lack of typical daytime activities (i.e. the pub), music plays a big role in maintaining positive mental health. Remember the last time your favourite song brought a smile to your face and instantly lifted your spirits? NHS England has recognised and highlighted how hospital radio volunteers have allowed many to create new coping mechanisms because of music with regards to relaxation, creativity, motivation, focus, expression and social connection.


Don’t drown your sorrows listening to Spotify’s ‘Covid-19 Quarantine Party’ playlist, which includes No Air by Jordin Sparks, John Denver’s Leaving, On A Jet Plane and Harder to Breathe by Maroon 5. Instead, remember the fun-loving lyrics of JT’s Can’t Stop the Feeling: ‘Room on lock, the way we rock it, so don’t stop’ and the belting lyric of the song, ‘ain’t nobody leaving soon, so keep dancing’.


There is certainly no reason why we can’t carry on lighting the currently dimmed (but still ever-glowing) flame of music and the venues that keep the industry moving with such integrity. If we all try our best to look after each other and ourselves, our return to our well-loved venues should be an enriching one that we can all look forward to.

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