REGION — As elected officials order the public to stay-at-home in an effort to slow the spread of the deadly COVID-19 disease, workers are utilizing the power of social media to earn an income, including musicians in North County.
At least two busy musicians in the region, HLLNDR of Vista and Kimmi Bitter of Oceanside, have hosted online concerts, encouraging their fans to donate tips via Venmo or PayPal in order to help maintain their income.
“Thankfully, my live shows aren’t the only way my spouse and I generate funds,” said HLLNDR, who released a new album just weeks before the shutdown that affected people around the world. “I’ve lost 10 shows, and counting since the shutdown, and I respect the responsibility we are taking to keep people healthy and to prevent the rise of this disease in our country, but the people in this industry are feeling the weight of what this shutdown has done.”
Bitter echoed HLLNDR’s comments, stating prior to the shutdown, she performed at least three shows weekly in the region.
“The majority of the places I perform at are local businesses such as craft breweries, wineries, restaurants, and venues,” Bitter said. “There is a lot of uncertainty on how long this will go and what life will look like on the other end of this.”
Bitter said she came across the idea of hosting online concerts from other musicians she has met during her career. Although, prior to the outbreak, the idea of online concerts didn’t appeal to her, she said.
“I have been approached by people who have their own live streaming channels so I knew it already existed,” Bitter said. “I typically feel conflicted about live-streaming services because I feel that a huge purpose of being a performing musician is to bring people together to create energy and good vibes. However, since we are on lockdown it has been amazing to bring people together in a virtual world as this is the only option.”
Both musicians said they feel thankful that they can still share their music using social media. The feedback has also been overwhelmingly positive, they said.
“It has made me change my point of view on (online concerts) because I have been so surprised at how connected and engaged people still are though they are not physically at the show,” Bitter said. In some ways, it almost feels more responsive since people are frequently requesting or responding to songs. It’s really cool.”
HLLNDR said she’s a “firm believer in making the best out of tough situations” and social media has helped her in this particular situation.
“My industry thrives on social connection,” HLLNDR said. “We can’t connect in person right now, so social media has been paramount in continuing to provide entertainment and using Venmo for tips during those live feed sessions.”
Outside of the music industry, both HLLNDR and Bitter said they’ve been inspired in seeing how the community has worked together through the outbreak.
The disease, which was discovered in December, has infected hundreds of thousands of people in at least 190 countries. Tens of thousands of people have died, with the number expected to increase over the next few weeks. Experts say the only way to slow the spread of the disease is to socially distant ourselves and stay home.
“There’s also been an overwhelming sense of support that spans across the entire community — support for small businesses, local artists, etcetera,” Bitter said. “I think that is insanely cool because we should be supporting our neighbors and local businesses.”
Most importantly, Bitter said she’s grateful that she’s been able to bring joy to her fans during a difficult time.
“I have also gotten texts outside from the live streams thanking me for bringing joy or light to people during a dark time,” Bitter said. “It’s really special to hear someone directly tell you how it made their day or was an escape or simply brought happiness.”
For that reason — to help brighten one’s day — HLLNDR said she will continue to host online concerts as long as it is needed.
“Our community needs us, and we have a platform we are able to use to draw business their way and support one another,” HLLNDR said. “Social media has been a fantastic way to connect while we are all making efforts to stay healthy and promote wellness.”
Follow both musicians on Facebook at HLLNDR and Kimmi Bitter.
Hoa Quach has 15 years of experience in journalism, garnering multiple awards ranging from investigative reporting to feature writing. She’s been named a “Woman Who Means Business” by the San Diego Business Journal, featured in BuzzFeed during International Women’s Day and recognized by the California Legislature for her work. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.