Understanding the impact of COVID-19 on Philippine-based musicians

Understanding the impact of COVID-19 on Philippine-based musicians

A lot has changed in the music world since the coronavirus pandemic struck harder earlier this year.

Tours and major concerts have been canceled, the financial struggle local musicians and their crew face have become dire, and numerous venues have been forced to shut down. These days, artists have turned to alternative means in order to get by, like offering music lessons, production services, and even starting new businesses outside the realm of music. It's been tough, but everyone has to soldier on in order to coexist with our new normal. 

To further understand the situation and what artists are going through, Bandwagon put out a survey to 101 Filipino musicians so they could give the public a better idea about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and how it's affected their livelihood. Results were collected from artists aged 18 and above, from both full-time musicians and those who play casual gigs. Of the respondents, the majority were male (84%), aged 25-40 years old (80%). 

56% of musicians saw a drop in income due to COVID-19

It's no surprise that the ongoing pandemic has challenged musicians, performers, artists, and their crew financially since lockdowns began in March. One of the respondents reveals that he now feels great anxiety for his livelihood. Sadly, 22% of our respondents had an 81-100% drop in their income since the lockdowns began.


Other artists have taken on side hustles to get by. "I worry that the music scene will never be the same again," a respondent says. "But I'm slowly coping up as I'm trying to explore new opportunities in other industries. It's obvious that our country is not ready yet."

44% of musicians created less music during lockdown than before

For the majority of musicians we reached out to, creating has been a bit more of a struggle these days.

A Filipino guitarist says his day job has taken over his life since he started working from home. "You can’t do anything else except work too because you can’t go out to see your friends and loved ones. I’m super thankful for having work during this time. But damn I miss work-life balance," he reveals.

Here's what IV of Spades, Munimuni, Sandwich, UDD, and more are up to at home during the "community quarantine"

Another guitarist, who is part of the 34% of artists who've gotten the chance to create more while in quarantine, tells Bandwagon that the lockdown gave him more time to work on music. He says, "I look forward to a boom in artistic output once the situation normalizes."

A singer-songwriter feels that he is less pressured to make new music, thanks to the freedom of time. He says, "I feel like the music is going to evolve into a more accessible format through virtual pocket shows."

54% of musicians spent more than 2 hours on music weekly during lockdown than before

Since going out should be limited to getting essentials for yourself and family, more than half of the musicians who answered the survery reveal that they've been spending more time working on music weekly than they previously did, pre-COVID. And it shows.

The lack of live gigs has opened the doors for artists to explore the digital world by playing free and paid sets online. On the other hand, artists like Zild Benitez, The Itchyworms, and SB19 got around to releasing full-length albums while in quarantine.

Filipinos overseas share how they get through their quarantine days with music

Through Bandwagon's ongoing Work From Home series, where we speak with artists to share their daily routines since getting stuck indoors due to the coronavirus pandemic, it's clear that many musicians are comfortable making music at home. For some, staying home was already their normal, except now their parents, siblings, and other family members are constantly around.

A bassist, who answered the survey, says that she was worried that live shows are no longer in the horizon for the local scene and stresses the need to make major adjustments to artists' workflow to make it through the pandemic.

"Our new work flow is definitely more tiring than what we're used to doing, but we'll do anything to keep making music and maintain our relationship with our fans," she reveals. "We're very hopeful that studios will start to reopen again, and we can finally start professionally recording our new material."

74% of musicians collaborated online with others

Through the days trapped in quarantine, a good number of musicians have gotten together—virtually—to release some killer collaborations. These artists include The Itchyworms and The CompanY, Raymund Marasigan, Mayonnaise, Gloc-9, I Belong to the Zoo, Marc Abaya and Miaow, Steve Badiola of Typecast, and many more.


Other musicians teamed up with artists of different crafts, participated in online pre-recorded shows with other artists, and even learned new instruments.

38% of musicians gained more listeners and followers

While 38% of our respondents saw a rise in their listeners and followers, 52% of them don't feel a difference in their connection with fans during the lockdown.

53% of musicians are scared and worried about the gradual normalization of life

It's been difficult for everyone to get their lives back to normal, but for the sake of their livelihoods and the economy, people need to mobilize and get to work. On top of this, 79% of musicians who took our survey say that they haven't gotten more job opportunities since the pandemic started.

"I’m in the middle about this," a violinist admits, saying how quarantine restrictions are essential. "But I also feel for those who are not earning anything for them to survive."

Philippine music industry professionals discuss the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic

Mental health issues have also become a huge factor in the lives of artists in lockdown. "My anxiety has heightened since the lockdown and I don't know how to feel when everything becomes 'normal' again," a singer confesses.

A vocalist for a post-hardcore band admits he is more afraid about the state of the country over the pandemic. "Super scared," he emphasizes, "I'm living with my two senior citizen parents, I may not care as much for my well being but I do feel very scared for my parents' health."

"I feel like it will never get better, or if it does I wouldn't probably be alive to witness it," a music producer says. "I feel the premature reopening and/or the substandard measures implemented brings me a sense of impending doom."

Check out the infographic below.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends everyone to regularly wash their hands, cover their mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing, and thoroughly cooking meat and eggs.

If you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms such as fever, tiredness, dry cough, sore throat, runny nose, and shortness of breath, contact the DOH COVID-19 Hotline at (02)8-651-7800 local: 1149-1150.