Passion in a Practical World: Covid edition (part 1)
Written by: Enya Lim | SRMC Lecturer
Many of us who choose the arts career path are passionate, creatively quirky, and prize freedom over stability – or maybe this is a biased assumption from one artist-type, of her peers. Before this descends into a personal account, it is important to return to the main concern of this discussion – that is, the importance of pursuing passion in the arts, while keeping a clear idea of how to sustain a reasonable livelihood doing so. How to balance the two without killing your passion? Lately, what does it even mean to do the full-time music artist life while surviving a global health pandemic, and having to face constantly changing Covid policies – postponed and rescheduled tours, cancelled shows, music venue closures?
Addressing the first question, three things for your consideration that will always matter, Coronavirus or no. First, how much you love your chosen art; second, embracing a portfolio mix; relatedly and finally, distinguishing between art for people and art for well, you. Having clarity in these respective areas is helpful in addressing the second question – what to do with passion in a Covid-stricken reality. Proceeding, the points will each be examined.
How much you love your art:
“He who has a why to live can bear any how”, goes the well-known Nietzsche quote – its significance is worth exploring. If your passion is genuine, it can and will readily outweigh obstacles that come – you will find a way to hold on. Ask any living pop culture icons how long it took them to get to where they are as professional artists, and just how hard they had to shed their craft before that. Few practising artists worth their salt choose the path purely for fame, wealth, and glamorous magazine covers – a good number tend to become publicly famous more as an outcome of genuine unshakeable passion for what they do, resilience, perseverance, and a lot more struggle than we can visibly observe. Objecting parents, health difficulties, financial woes, hostile competition, a global virus pandemic… It is possible for passion to trump all that.
When Covid caused the culling of live music and basically forced full time gigging musicians from their scene, it broadly revealed two group outcomes. The first group comprises those musicians who found or created a variety of income streams other than performing live music, still within music – teaching instruments, vocal coaching, music theory; arranging music; audio recording, producing and sound engineering; production house jingle and commercial music composing work… It is arguable that Covid proved to certain musicians how much they truly love their chosen craft, serving a reminder for why they were doing music in the first place. There is nothing quite like a pandemic perhaps, to make one realize that the perfect job function for them does not exist yet – an open invitation to pioneer something and expand the artistic realm’s possibilities, so to speak.
We will dive into the next group and other considerations in part 2.