Imagine being broken up with. The bad kind, where you can’t see or hear anything that reminds you of them without your heart breaking a little more each time. The kind of break up that makes you look around and realize how intertwined your lives had become. The kind that takes you weeks to tell anybody, because you don’t know how to put it into words. Imagine every time they did something after, your friends and family felt the need to circle it back to you. “I saw they were out in Australia going on dates again, that’s a good sign right?” Or maybe something like “Well why don’t you find a new partner, just for now, and if it’s meant to be they’ll come back!”.
That’s how it’s been for those of us who were laid off from music industry jobs this year.
It’s a hard topic to talk about. We don’t want to be bitter towards our peers who didn’t get the cut. We want to be happy about the thing we love finally getting a glimmer of hope again. But it’s hard to deny, it hurts. Our lives all of a sudden have a huge hole, and it feels almost impossible to fill.
The thing about working in music, it’s not like any other job. It takes over your life, but in a way that feels so good. You go to work and you’re surrounded by the thing you love. You leave work and go partake in that thing you love, that happens to still be at the place you work. Your coworkers become family from days spent pulling your hair out and nights spent screaming along to your favorite songs. So when it’s gone, it’s not just your job. You’ve lost your job, your past times, your family, and your friends. You feel so alone and the one thing that brings you comfort is just outside of your reach, but to the people in your life from outside of music, it’s just a job – go find a new one.
The music industry suffered a major blow in 2020. An industry that used to pump money in to our economy, that brought strangers together to share a special night, that gave humans the opportunity to be vulnerable in public, that industry had to shut it’s doors and turn off it’s lights. We sat and watched while restaurants were able to reopen, if they closed at all. We watched as stores stretched out on to sidewalks, and stadiums opened their domes to bring fresh air in for their fans. We tried our best to make it work for us too – outdoor concerts and limited capacity seating and concerts thrown virtually – but we did not see the same success. Concerts are at their core, human, and there is no recreating that feeling in a virtual or spaced out world.
But through all of this, the music industry was reminded why we do what we do. If we were not able to put a band on a stage, we cleared off that stage and made room for the doctors. We changed pace to become blood donation sites, COVID-19 testing sites, and even vaccination clinics. We spoke out against injustices, and gave back to the communities that created the world we live in. We fundraised and knocked on our government’s doors, demanding they don’t leave us out to dry. We persevered because the core of what we do…is making people happy.
It took a long time to be ready to put these thoughts into words. Part of me still wants to hide. I was someone who made it, who got their foot in the door just to have it pushed back and closed on me. But if the music industry has taught me anything, it’s that giving up is not an option. I may not have my ticket just now – but the show hasn’t started and I know with every ounce of me I will be in that crowd again. As will the rest of you. So while we brush off the dirt, and wipe down our wounds, just remember the show will always go on – because we are the ones who make sure of it.