As the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic continue to wreak havoc on the global economy, companies and their employees are left figuring out how to navigate these new, uncharted waters. One of the largest impacts has been on those working as freelancers in the live event, production, live entertainment and touring industries.
As the outbreak has forced government agencies to ban large gatherings, we have seen the unprecedented cancellation of sports seasons, athletic events, Broadway shows, local and touring theatre performances, trade shows and expos, concerts, corporate events and meetings, and even personal parties, including weddings and bar mitzvahs. For every one of these events that gets cancelled, there are an untold amount of freelancers and performers, including Gig Gear’s dear customers, who are losing out on a regular source of income.
It’s a scary time. While the financial ramifications are most likely paramount for most of you, there are many articles and websites out there that can help in advising how to financially navigate circumstances like these. While finance is not my area of expertise, my goal is to share advice on what to do with that other precious commodity that, unlike income, you are no doubt going to find you have more of — time.
With all of these gigs, jobs, events and tours cancelled, what should you do with all this extra time?
Here’s how I see it: This pandemic will not last forever and at some point, the markets will stabilize, the economy will get back on track and the world will go back to normal. And at that point in time, how will you position yourself to be ready to jump right back into the fray? Do you want to be able to offer exactly the same set of skills and services that you did before this happened? Or, maybe you want to offer even more and educate yourself so you are in a better position to ensure you’re always a client’s first call?
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It would be smart to use all of this extra time to do the following: learn, practice and get better.
There are always new things to learn that we can add to our existing skill sets. If you work in audio and you’re familiar with one or two digital boards and the accompanying remote software, take the time to get familiar with one or two more. If you’re a lighting designer and you haven’t had a chance to read up on and learn about the latest design techniques and materials, there’s no better time than now. If there’s a new stage management system or your company is planning on switching to using a new kind of truss with different construction and connectors, educate yourself on it now. If you’re a musician, practice. Get better. Learn a new technique, incorporate new sounds or learn new songs.
There’s a plethora of free information, classes and tutorials via industry publications, online articles and videos that you can use to at least start learning almost anything that you would need. If possible, you can even take certification courses (which sometimes are offered for free) for certain products and software either in person or online.
When this virus finally blows over, you need to make sure that you don’t come out of it the same as before. You need to come out of it better, stronger and smarter. In that way, you can make sure that you’ll be in the best position to not only start making the income you were making before it all started, but to potentially make even more due to the advanced skills and knowledge that you’ve proactively acquired during this downtime.
Time is a commodity, and it is precious. As they say, “Time is money.” If your time unfortunately cannot be spent working and making money now, then use that time to give yourself a better opportunity to work and make more money later. These cancellations are out of our hands. What we do with our newfound time now is completely in our hands.
The freelancers and gig workers that make up all of the production, entertainment and events industries are a resilient and dedicated bunch. Let’s use this time to get even better at what we do so that when we can get back to work at 100%, the quality of the products and performances that our work provides will far surpass anything that our customers, clients and audiences have ever seen or heard before.
I wish you all health, happiness and success.
Daniel Shatzke is the founder and CEO of Gig Gear pro-audio accessories and owner of Harmony Studios in Brooklyn.