Surviving as a freelance musicians in New York City during COVID19

Surviving as a freelance musicians in New York City during COVID19 - image UnaTone3-1024x699 on https://musicmasterlab.com

As the COVID19 Pandemic continues to unfold, the world of freelancing has had to quickly adjust! Added precautions need to be put into place and the landscape of what a career as a freelancer means has to be adjusted to meet the needs of a new socially distanced or even virtual audience with the hopes that we can return to the stage soon.

Curating a Wedding safely during COVID19:

The Pandemic is totally reshaping what wedding ceremonies look like and we are doing all we can to adjust accordingly. For example, we cannot have more than 10 people congregating at a time which means the wedding party must be small and adhere to social distancing guidelines. This can make our presence complicated. We do our best to look uniform and professional and always make sure our contract reflects our needs in terms of safety. We use masks provided by the clients. Typically the whole wedding party will have black matching masks in order to blend in photos. We also bring shields to place in front of us in case anyone sneezes and I even go so far as to perform in rubber gloves so I don’t have to worry about touching anything. It’s different and makes shifting a nightmare, but makes me feel so much safer!

 

Surviving as a freelance musicians in New York City during COVID19 - image UnTone_Wedding-1024x640 on https://musicmasterlab.com

In terms of wedding timing, that has stayed pretty much the same. I require my musicians to arrive at least 30-45 min before we are scheduled to start playing. If we start playing prelude music 30 min before the ceremony, they must arrive an hour early, at least. This makes sure we are all there on time and we can figure out any problems that arise in terms of spacing, safety, forgotten music, etc. We stick to our rules, and even with the Pandemic we are very strict with things such as overtime. No matter what we still charge overtime for each 15 min increment after our service was scheduled to end. The other thing that has not changed is our cancelation cut off. They still need to cancel 30 days ahead of time or else they need to pay 50% of our fees. We are still professionals trying to pay our bills, so that is something we cannot budge on. I also prefer to be paid before the ceremony. This way we don’t need to worry about not getting paid or something odd happening like a drunk bride forgetting to pay. It has happened before and it can be very awkward! All details dealing with payments are in writing so that no one can claim they do not know what’s going on.

Cultivating a following outside a concert hall:

During the Pandemic I have been very fortunate to be busy! I’ve taken this time to really work on my website and have started giving free concerts in the park in order to start to gather an audience base.

Surviving as a freelance musicians in New York City during COVID19 - image un-In-The-Park-1024x589 on https://musicmasterlab.com
Cellist Eleonor Norton and violinist Una Tone

My hope is that when all this ends, hopefully sooner rather than later, I have an audience that will come to my concerts and need musicians for events like weddings, opening parties, etc. Our Park concerts have been very successful. While the weather lasts my cellist and I go out on Saturday nights at 6pm and we just sit down and play for an hour. People love it! We don’t advertise on purpose to make it feel more exclusive. You have to be “in the know” to attend which makes our audience feel special and reminds them that we are a very good professional group. We play a mix of classical, pop, and rock and roll to keep things exciting and engaging for our audiences. Believe it or not, even “Phantom of the Opera” is too classical these days! At the end of the day, I am an entertainer and not an educator, so I curate my musical selections to what the audience wants to hear, not just what I want to play. It guarantees satisfaction and return customers.

Remember you are a professional and this will end!

Everybody is in the same boat right now trying to dig themselves out of the hole COVID19 has created. Musicians are always the first to go and will of course be the last to come back. Teaching is working for now, but it’s challenging! My best advice would be to make yourself seen and available. Remember that you are a professional and this will end! We will go back to work, but in the meantime be purposeful with what you do and try to create a space for yourself that sets you apart and allows you to be successful once things open up again.

Una Tone

Una Tone

Internationally recognized, and locally acclaimed violinist, Una Tone enjoys a career as a soloist, chamber musician and orchestral player.
In New York City Una has worked with the Radio City Orchestra, the New York Pops, the Opera Orchestra of New York, and the American Ballet Theatre Orchestra among others. She is a Concertmaster for the Brooklyn Chamber Orchestra, the New York Symphonic Ensemble, the New Choral Society, and the Fontenay Chamber Players, to name but a few. Una’s classically trained playing is often in demand by high profile entertainment names across musical genres and styles. Una has toured with Michael Bublé, U2, Andrea Bocelli, Jose Carreras, Savion Glover, Il Divo, Brian Wilson and many others.
Una has played numerous Broadway shows including Miss Saigon, Ain’t Too Proud, Fiddler on the Roof, On The Town, Les Miserable, Lion King, Kinky Boots, Pippin, Wicked, Ragtime, The Producers.
She has appeared on Good Morning America, The Today’s Show, Conan O’Brien, and The View.

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