By: Paul Manno West Babylon, N.Y.-
The music industry has been impacted in both positive and negative ways due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Artists and musicians have struggled to perform live, but music stores have thrived during the pandemic.
John Ramacca, an employee at Looney Tunes music store in West Babylon, NY, has sold large amounts of cd’s, record players, and vinyl during the pandemic.
Entrance of Looney Tunes music store photo by Paul Manno
“After we were able to reopen, people started spending more money before the pandemic started. People couldn’t go out. There were no festivals, no rock concerts, no camping trips, no vacations. We sold more record players than we ever had before, so since the pandemic started it’s actually been a little better,” Ramacca said.
Looney Tunes offered curbside pickup for customers, but they lost a big piece of their income with the loss of live performances. This music store became a popular venue to up and coming local bands and the loss of customers took a toll on the business.
“The pandemic completely shutdown our live performances. We can’t pack people in the store. No artist wants to meet 100-200 people, so all of that stopped. If we did five shows a month, that’s 1,000 album sales that we just lost, plus having 1,000 people in the store buying soda, buying water, buying snacks, or even picking up an album.To lose that 1,000 people a month is a huge piece of your traffic cut out,” Ramacca said.
Empty stage where bands played in Looney Tunes photo by Paul Manno
Booking a venue for musicians and bands was easier to achieve before the pandemic. Vincent Cook, the lead guitarist for Shades of Chaos, explains the difficulty of performing during the pandemic.
“Well for starters, the pandemic shut down a lot of bars. Normally small time musicians like myself depend on these types of places as our main income. In the beginning of the pandemic we couldn’t play anywhere, but it has gotten a little better and I have been able to perform very few shows,” Cook said.
Cook is one of many musicians who has spent more time playing and recording music individually during the pandemic. But that hasn’t stopped Cook from writing new riffs in his home studio.
“There hasn’t been a big impact to the recording process because people still have access to their home studios like myself. Since I have my own music studio I can record whatever I want whenever I want. I guess for musicians that have to go to a studio, it would be harder for them. The whole recording process has slowed down a little but once the cases go down it should get better,” Cook said.
Vincent Cook playing lead guitar at a heavy metal concert contributed photo from Vincent Cook
Musicians have adapted to a world where live events aren’t always possible and have moved to a virtual format to perform. Cook and his band have not used this type of platform to livestream concerts, but he has enjoyed listening to other bands using this setting as an alternative.
“Music has definitely become a more virtual platform because of the pandemic. A lot more bands have been live streaming their concerts and figuring out ways to basically record virtually. One cool thing that I have seen bands doing is that they will record a song and individually record themselves playing that song and use editing tools to make the musicians who are recording and the whole video in sync with each other,” Cook said.
The challenges that all musicians have faced recording new music and performing live shows has been difficult, but for musicians like Cook will continue to use virtual platforms and home studio recordings to distribute their music.