While many of us live paycheck to paycheck, gig artistry defies the nature of the full-time job and lends to the flexibility of freelance professionalism.
Musicians rely on gigs to create opportunities for exposure, rehearsal and the ability to earn a living. Despite their adaptable schedules, many gig performers will tell you that their trade is one of dedication and consistency.
Some musicians, however, create opportunity from isolation in their effort to create. One band, Radmore—an Ottawa based group composed of local gig experts—have weighed their monetary struggles against the most valuable currency: time.
Ryan MacIntyre, drummer and vocalist for Radmore, spoke on this fringe benefit.
“On the positive side, we’ve been able to put our energy and efforts into our original stuff,” said MacIntyre. “We are an industry that has come to a complete halt because of COVID, so we’ve used the time to focus on our own family bubble. It’s been a challenge but we’re taking it one day at a time.”
The band has been working on singles for their debut album in hopes that their sound, inspired by ’90s classic rock and grunge, will become well-recognized in the Ottawa music scene.
Aside from studio recording, their jam space at bassist Scott Reeves’ house in Kazabazua, Quebec is where the magic happens. They currently share recordings on their Youtube channel and iTunes, while media and band information can be found on their Facebook page. However, present challenges complicate how their music is meant to be received.
The pandemic has curbed the availability of gig work due to venue closures and distancing protocols, putting strain on live entertainment and other avenues of leisure spending. Artists who rely on income from their performances find themselves struggling to make ends meet, often picking up whatever steady work they can find.
“The live industry has been basically gutted at this point,” said Reeves. “Most music occurs now over livestream. I feel like the interaction between the audience and performer is the essence of live music and that experience is being obscured by the pandemic.”
Lead guitarist TJ Morrison echoed Reeves’ sentiment, finding the changing landscape of music difficult to navigate.
“It’s a totally different world,” said Morrison. “We all love our jobs because we get to be around people and be a part of everybody’s night off, weekend or good time. The biggest thing I miss is having a room full of people enjoying a singular moment. It’s the most human experience you can have—everyone singing the same words to the same melody. It doesn’t matter who you are or what you’re about, all that matters is the shared experience.”
Despite the local businesses they frequent not currently booking, the band is as flexible as the members that compose it, refusing to let the state of the gig economy come between them and their art.
“At the end of the day, music is always something that gives back, and no matter what you do it’s always going to be there for you,” said frontman Skyler Radmore. “We’re going to keep writing these songs and whatever happens, it’ll be worthwhile.”