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Sink or swim?

Paradigm agent Mike Malak urges live music professionals to focus on the opportunities presented by the coronavirus shutdown, and shares his own tips for home working

23 Apr 2020

Mike Malak, Paradigm Talent Agency

What a time it is for the live music industry.

An unprecedented moment that none of us ever saw coming. Perhaps a postponement here and there – but this sort of impact felt around the world? It has truly hit reset on the industry, and globally. Festivals cancelling in succession, while people lose their jobs and successful companies have to re-strategise to survive.

That being said, when faced with hardship we have a choice: do we sink or swim?

As most of us can have a tendency to sit at home wondering when this will all be over, I would encourage everyone to stay positive and innovate. Any crisis welcomes new opportunities – if you can recognise them. Your entire audience is online. How can you connect and find new ways of engaging?

On my side, I will be delving deeper into the large reach and favourable algorithm of LinkedIn, maximising on content that I hope will inform and encourage others in our industry to plan, stay focused and revolutionise. This is a time where we all need to connect and stay in touch; everyone is affected and all ideas are welcome.

Many I have spoken to are already finding tools like Zoom video conferencing to be a revelation. The fact that you can be at home yet still feel so connected is something that has been brought to light by this period.

Interestingly, I have been feeling more busy and productive than usual while being at home, which is something I never thought I would say. The concept of an office offers ideal routine and a team environment, yet you realise that with working from home you can successfully structure your days and capitalise on the time normally spent commuting or travelling: eg fitting in more meetings via video call than normally possible.

In our usual daily lives, we have a routine and we know the outcome. Being home doesn’t have to mean this all falls apart

Other industry contacts I have spoken to have also echoed this notion, saying that after an initial period of adjustment, being home allowed them to focus and complete their task list.

Beyond video conferencing, there are tools to assist your mental and physical wellbeing on offer. On Instagram alone, key wellness and fitness individuals, as well as your favourite gym, are offering live sessions which you can do from the comfort of your own home for free. I find that, most importantly, including an hour dedicated to wellness helps you structure your day.

That is the key element here, in my opinion, in terms of sinking or swimming during this time. Structure.

In our usual daily lives, we have a routine and we know the outcome.

Being home doesn’t have to mean this all falls apart. It is time to create a new routine that allows you to stay mentally and physically strong, as well as productive, ensuring you make the most of the time you have at home, whether with family or alone.

While you are home, you need clear boundaries and timelines, similar to your usual routine. It is integral to maintain setting your alarm and waking up every weekday and going to sleep around the same time. Give yourself a moment for breaks and lunch, and take advantage of work-outs or meditation. I have found this moment of self-reflection gives me something to look forward to in the day and changes the dynamic, making me feel more positive about the situation.

While doing this, also be very conscious of what you are consuming. This goes for food but, I feel, even more importantly, media.

Look after each other and together we will come back stronger than ever before

We are bombarded with news about Covid-19 at the moment; however, I am making a conscious effort to avoid certain news outlets and social networks during key hours of the day when you end up subconsciously absorbing negative information and harming your mental wellbeing.

There is a huge amount of speculation going around. Everyone is guilty of it, to some extent. Everyone at the moment seems to ‘know’ a friend of a friend’s mother that works in the government and says this or that is going to happen next.

Nobody knows for sure how long this is going to last. Distance yourself from the speculation and take responsibility with your friends on social media to not add further fuel to the fire. Many times I have found myself reading people’s status updates and subsequently feeling a sense of anxiety that, when looked at properly, is not based on any hard evidence nor applicable to my outcome. Be kind to yourself and remain mindful of what you consume.

When this is over, everyone will look back at this period of time and ask themselves what they did with it – did they panic and self-destruct, or did they innovate and widen their scope to come back even stronger? I encourage you to do the latter. While this is a rough time for all of us it is also an opportunity to readjust and get clarity on your life for when things are back in gear. Let’s come back stronger than before. We must.

I love working in the live music industry. We get the opportunity to collaborate with some incredible artists and events. While it is painful to see this on hold, I remember that nothing lasts forever, not even the bad times.

It will be over sooner than it seems, so let’s move forward as a unified industry and support one another. Look after each other and together we will come back stronger than ever before.


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