As I write this, COVID-19 (Coronavirus) is active in over 100 countries and continues to spread while gathering momentum daily. But it’s also worth pointing out that although there are over 110,000 reported cases, there are also over 60,000 people who have already recovered. The UK government and NHS are telling us that there is no need to panic and to carry on going about our business, but with a reasonable degree of caution around hygiene. For a visual representation of all things COVID-19, check out the visual data sheet from information is beautiful.
There is little doubt that as the virus continues its world tour, it will affect many of our lives in some ways. But what does it mean to the music industry and in particular, the gigging musician?
The main concern that many of our customers are voicing is around how gigs, venues and booked events will be affected by COVID-19 and any compulsory quarantine that may be put in place by the government. These are, of course, serious and valid financial and health worries that could potentially have a devastating effect on live music and the venues and fans that support it. But of course, there is no answer, we can only, in the words of Steve Winwood “Roll With It”.
But there are some considerations and basic hygiene precautions we can take when at a gig.
1. Wash your hands
This has and continues to be the clear message from any and all health authorities. Regularly wash your hands for no less than 20 seconds, or for the first verse of “Rosanna” (Toto), one chorus of “Beat It” (Michael Jackson) or maybe you could use the government’s recommendation of a complete round of “Happy Birthday”.
2. Do not share microphones and keep mics clean.
I for one, have stopped using SM58’s that are regularly and dutifully placed on mic stands by various FOH engineers. I simply (and politely) explain or joke that I would rather use my own SM58 Beta as I don’t want to be responsible for passing anything on. I will sometimes get a roll of the eyes, but on the whole, most engineers totally understand. In truth, I have done this for some years now. Simply because I don’t know who has used that mic before me and when or “IF” it has ever been cleaned.
And whether it is your own mic, or you are a PA hire company, then your mics should be cleaned and sanitised after every gig. Now more than ever, this is crucial and relatively inexpensive to do. If you don’t already have a kit, check out one of our sanitising kits here, and to learn how to clean your mics click here for our tutorial.
Then, of course, there is your precious guitar, bass, keyboard, drums etc. As well as your own sweat, blood and tears that end up covering your beloved instrument, it is quite likely that there will be traces of singalong-spit from your adoring fans at the front of the stage.
Again, take great care to clean your instrument before and after a gig.
4. Gear surfaces
Mixers, speakers, cables and literally any and all other gear that ends up in the venue is at risk of contamination. Make sure that take the time to clean these surfaces before and after gigs. Also, remember to wash your hands often whilst cleaning and maybe splash out and buy yourself a couple of pairs of rubber gloves for extra protection. Check out our article on how to clean a mixing desk for more information.
It is surprising just how many times there is physical contact between us muso’s and the people at gigs. Shaking hands with the venue owner, promoter or FOH engineer, taking a drink when being served, hugs, handshakes, hi-fives and autographs on dodgy parts of your fans bodies.
And equally as surprising is just how many times we touch our own face, which can transmit COVID-19 (Coronavirus) and even other viruses. So, take some kind of hand sanitiser to every gig and make sure that you use it regularly.
Finally, I should point out that it is not my intention to further panic those toilet paper hoarders among you but to simply offer some critical health advice to my fellow musicians.
So, in the words of Destiny’s Child, “I’m a survivor (what), I’m not gon’ give up (what), I’m not gon’ stop (what), I’m gon’ work harder”. Go gig, play and be healthy.
Dave West, Studiospares