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Bay Area musicians put their lives and tours on hold during the coronavirus pandemic
Emma Webster Apr 08, 2020
Every industry has been hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic, from servers and bartenders to small business owners and teachers.
In the Bay Area and beyond, artists and musicians are seeing events cancelled through 2020, and their main sources of income gone completely. We spoke to a few local musicians whose lives and plans have been turned upside down by the pandemic.
MH the Verb
For Marcus Harris, better known by his stage name, MH The Verb, the next couple months were going to be crucial.
"I just released my new album after two years of working on it," said the rapper, producer, and DJ. "I had a bicoastal tour scheduled with more than 20 dates that have all been cancelled or postponed now."
MH, originally from Philadelphia, added that he also makes a living freelancing as a DJ and performer at corporate events and weddings in the Bay Area. Spring is typically a busy time of year for these events, and with California on lockdown, MH will lose five events that promised big paychecks.
"That accounts for more than half of my overall income," he said. "All of that work has dried up, and it's frustrating not knowing what to expect going forward."
Though the loss of the money was a big setback, MH says that the cancellation of the tour has been the hardest to swallow. He looks forward to every part of it, including the travel aspect and the opportunity to visit new places.
"That's usually a time when I'm able to connect with so many of my friends and family across the country. Sometimes I feel very isolated in the Bay. Being able to go out and share my art with people and connect with communities is a huge part of my health and wellness. I'm trying to stay positive, be responsible, and keep myself busy at home, but it definitely isn't the same."
While music and art are his primary sources of income, MH, like many musicians, has a side hustle. He works as a freelance digital media and marketing consultant for several small businesses. Though some of his clients have already asked to defer payments or cancel services, that work hasn't gone away entirely.
Luckily, MH also landed a part-time job that will provide him healthcare during this time – something he says is crucial for freelancers.
"We don't have the same access to health care and insurance, so we are extra vulnerable in these times."
Like anyone else, MH is worried.
"I'm afraid this might be the new normal, and I wonder how this will affect artists who deal with mental health issues and really rely on the social aspects of our community. It's necessary for us to be a community and deal with this together."
Despite the hard times, MH says he is still creating. He plans to use this time to focus on engaging his community with new music videos, remixes, live stream performances, behind the scenes footage, and interviews. He also plans to connect more directly with the community through FaceTime and phone calls. The final thing on his agenda: resting and recharging.
"I think this is a unique opportunity for us to take some time and really connect with each on a deeper level without distractions."