How Can Artists Survive the Coronavirus Shutdown?

Mar 25, 2020 | Entertainment Law

The current global shutdown from the Coronavirus pandemic has changed the way most of the world does business, including recording artists, producers and DJs. In my 25 plus years in the music business, I have never seen a marketplace change so quickly and so drastically. After counseling most of my entertainment clients on many of the issues discussed below, I thought it might be useful to share this with everyone.

The Bad:

I have recently witnessed many clients experience a complete shutdown of their touring and show income, being forced to return home from tour dates in Europe, Asia and Africa, as well as domestic tours in the United States. Touring income is a huge part of an artist’s income and for many DJ’s, their only source of income.

Night clubs, show venues, after party events, bars and private party bookings are now non-existent. Every major music festival and professional gathering , such as SXSW, Coachella, Ultra Music Festival, and others, have been postponed until further notice or completely canceled (see CNN). DJ’s that relied on their weekly in-house residency jobs, those that are booked domestically and globally for spot-gigs, and DJ’s that perform for weddings, sweet 16’s, corporate and private parties are now forced to find other ways to generate income.

As independent contractors, DJ’s, artists and producers find that they are generally not eligible for unemployment benefits. So how do you now make money or further your career?

John Flansburgh of the band, “They Might Be Giants” when discussing the cancelation of most of his bands remaining shows for 2020 said, “I’ve been broke for most of my adult life, so I’ll be fine.” (Vulture 3/16/20) Many artists feel that way, but if being broke is not something you can accept, maybe this information will be helpful.

The Good:

There are still plenty of opportunities to generate money and keep your career moving forward, here are just a few:

Basic Ideas for Artists to Generate Income during Coronavirus shutdown

1. Keep recording and put out quality music on your digital distribution platforms.

Use your down time to create and record new music, finish projects and put out content to reach and grow your fan base. For a list of digital distribution platforms for indie artists, click here. You have a captive audience that is desperate for good entertainment and turn to music as an escape. Take advantage and captivate them with your art! Plays and streams and downloads = royalties and $ in your pocket!

2. Make sure your website is up-to-date and functioning properly.

Now is the time to update your website, make sure everything is working properly and supply your site with new content to keep your fans engaged. Nothing will kill a sale or turn off a potential new fan faster than a poorly created website.

3. Merchandise

Now is the perfect time to promote and push your merchandise. Friends, family and fans and provide their support and get something in return, a t-shirt, hoodie, hat, beer mug, etc., with your logo, name, etc.

4. Production kits (producers)

With everyone being locked in their homes, producers are spending more time working on their craft and as such, are always looking for new sounds, drums and kits. If you have a name or a knack for creating original sounds, put together a quality sound kit and offer it for sale.

5. Live performances on social media

Many artists are using this time to build more intimate relationships and grow their fan base by providing free concerts. Through your live performances, you can take requests, interact with your fans and promote your own website and merchandise. Here is a link for free concerts being performed by some of the world’s biggest artists!

6. Use social media to network with and build relationships with other artists and industry professionals and focus on developing your team

While the artist is at the forefront of everything, their team is generally the machine that keeps the artist moving forward. Start by contacting a good entertainment attorney that can help introduce you to accountants, publicists, managers, agents and labels to help further your career goals.


Use your down time to create but also to educate yourself on copyrights and trademarks, how artists collect money, music marketing , how to release a single, how music streaming equates to money, and other music business essentials! If you come out of this knowing the same thing you knew before this all started and nothing more, you have failed yourself and wasted valuable time from your professional career.

Grants, small business loans, emergency funds and changes to many royalty payment systems:

As this is typed, the United States Government is in the process of finalizing economic stimulus legislation to (hopefully) help those in need (and not just big business). There are a number of opportunities available now for entertainment professionals, with a few links provided below for some of these resources:


For San Francisco/Oakland (Bay Area) artists, click here.

Los Angeles Coronavirus Emergency Relief Fund

For those that may qualify for unemployment in California, click here to file.

New York

New York City’s Mayor’s office COVID-19 information and assistance

GoFundMe grant for low income NY artists click here

Local 802 (for union members) fund click here

For those that may qualify for unemployment in New York, click here to file

Additional resource links:

COVID-19 Artist Emergency Funding and Information

Billboard State-by-State resource guide

For global artists in Australia and European countries, click here

Jason Bost, Esq., MBA, is an attorney in the State of New York who focuses on civil litigation and entertainment law, and is the founder of the Bost Legal Group LLC, a firm providing legal counsel and representation on matters related to intellectual property, entertainment, trademark, real estate, foreclosure defense, bankruptcy, trust and estate planning, probate and surrogate court issues, immigration and civil litigation. If you have any questions feel free to contact Mr. Bost at 718-361-0299 or by email at

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