Supporting Durham musicians during COVID-19

Maddie Corinne on her EP cover.

Some Durham Region musicians are switching to online performances to connect with their fans during the coronavirus pandemic.

The pandemic has shut down venues, pubs, halls and other places local artists go to perform and celebrate their music.

“I think the main challenge for all artists is the lack of face-to-face moments we are getting,” says Maddie Corinne, a 25-year-old singer, songwriter and guitar player from Pickering, Ont. “For a local artist, getting gigs booked is the most important part of the experience.”

Prior to the lockdown, Corinne did live performances at Fionn MacCool’s in Ajax, and had planned on performing during festival weekends at Brooks Farms. Her EP, Four Chords by Maddie Corinne is on iTunes, Apple Music and Spotify.

“Getting yourself in a room full of people is your chance to showcase your talent and personality, and hopefully gain a fan by the end of the night,” says Corinne.

Corinne was working on producing more music to release this year.

“I was hoping to have a single out for the summer, and maybe focus on writing a new EP. My goal was to do more collaborations, learn more about studio work and production,” she says.

Since the lockdown started, Corinne has been making online content as much as possible and exploring her written and musical talents.

“I do an Instagram live every Thursday and I take requests,” says Corinne. “I’m recording videos every day, covering songs and posting originals.”

Corinne says she gets a lot of support from family and friends.

“Streaming my music, posting about it, asking other people to listen…that’s what helps local artists the most during the times where you can’t actually go out and see them,” says Corinne.

Kops Records is a music store and venue located on Simcoe Street South in Oshawa. It is a community hub that typically hosts live performances for local artists, but had to close in mid-March due to the pandemic.

One of the employees, long-time music journalist and sponsor of the Oshawa Music Awards, William McGuirk, expresses his concern for local artists during this time.

“People are sitting at home and everything is being delivered to them,” says McGuirk. “We sit in our house and get Crown Lands, Elton John, Lady GaGa … and it’s all free.”

While the word ‘free’ sounds convenient for audiences, it may bring trouble in the future for artists when performing at shows and venues again. With people currently accessing free music now, they may not want to pay for it in the future, according to McGuirk.

“The industry is going to have to look for revenue to pay these artists,” says McGuirk.

McGuirk also says we should be buying more records from local artists and local bands so they are supported during this time and making sure the money is getting to them.

“We have to figure out how to honour and support our artists and make sure they get paid,” says McGuirk.