When Ohio and Kentucky’s governors announced stay-at-home orders last month, Cincinnatians had to quickly adjust to a new state of normal. For businesses, this meant either closing, ordering employees to work from home, or taking extensive safety precautions in order to remain open. For citywide events, this meant cancellations and postponements. For local musicians, this meant adapting to canceled shows, delayed studio time, and trying to find new ways to engage with their fans.
Still, the Cincinnati music scene is thriving with dedicated artists. Here are a few ways you can continue to connect with and support them.
Interact on social media feeds.
Recently, a variety of artists have taken to social media to engage with fans. Artists like Jane Decker and Johnny Audley Glover, known as Audley to his fans, have challenged themselves to post one Instagram video every day while practicing social distancing.
Decker is specifically focused on covering 30 different choruses within 30 days, which has motivated her not only as a creator of music but as a consumer as well. “It’s forcing me to work on music and to learn more about what I’m doing and listen to more music,” she says. “And, I hope that it’s making people happy and encouraging other people.”
Audley, on the other hand, has been challenging himself to write original lyrics for the past six months and just recently began posting videos of his work on his Instagram. “I figured I’m writing everyday anyway, I might as well let people in on my process a little bit,” he says. “And that has opened up the floodgates of not only interacting with my fans, but inspiring them also.”
Tune into live streams.
Other artists like Lauren Eylise, Aziza Love, Coastal Club, and Harbour have utilized their Instagram platforms to either explore new methods of fan interaction or livestream mini concerts. Eylise uses Instagram TV (IGTV) to host a podcast every Sunday at 7 p.m., where she discusses topics of “love, life, and everything soul-centered.” She says she hopes this sparks a conversation among her fans about how to interpret and deal with the state of the world and how to prioritize self-care.
Similarly, Love has been using IGTV for her own podcast to encourage people to use music and sound as a way to connect with yourself internally. She also uses Instagram Live to record concerts for her fans and connect through virtual conversation. “I think the fact that people are able to reach each other and are more accessible to each other right now, it’s really cool,” she says.
Alex Hirlinger, frontman of Coastal Club, says the live stream concerts that his band has done reach more people virtually than a typical Coastal Club show usually draws. Hirlinger, Aziza Love, and Ryan Green, frontman of Harbour, all say they look forward to hosting more concert live streams on each of their Instagram platforms soon.
Stream new music.
Local artists like Eylise, Audley, Decker, and Harbour are also using this period of social distancing to work on new music. Green says that, in addition to concert live streams, Harbour is exploring the idea of self-recording an acoustic album. The band has also discussed bringing back mini clips of stripped-down covers that have been a fan favorite in the past. “We’re trying to stay positive by staying busy and finding new ways to reach people during this time,” he says.
Audley, Eylise, and Decker say the stay-at-home orders have been a double-edged sword in terms of creating a better or worse writing environment. Although he has “nothing but time,” Audley says parts of his production process have suffered because of the inability to have meetings in person. Still, perspective is everything and all three artists agree that the excess downtime is beneficial. “It’s been what I’ve made of it,” Decker says. “You have all the things and resources and tools you need in order to work at home, and you can’t make excuses anymore.”
Some musicians like Coastal Club and Love have already released new or reimagined songs. In March, Love released an unmastered version of her single “Lights On” and in an Instagram caption wrote, “Ya can’t quarantine love.” She says, “I wanted people to come with me into that space of self-pleasure, self-joy, freedom, love, and intimacy. I think that’s important in this time where we’re kind of cut off from each other.”
For Coastal Club, the plan was always to release its new single “Honey” in April, and the band wasn’t going to let the pandemic stop that. “We’re just excited to be saying what we’re saying in this craziness,” Hirlinger says. “A lot of these songs are very lighthearted, they’ve got a lot of levity and I’m excited that we’re able to put somewhat of a positive message out there right now.”
In addition to engaging with and supporting artists virtually, fans can continue to purchase merchandise online, and Eylise has some words of encouragement for local artists. “Just take it easy. I think everybody feels like we [always] have to do something and we can’t just sit here,” she says. “I’m not encouraging you to slack off, but just do the work for you. Don’t feel like you have to burn yourself out during a time where you literally can’t do anything just to remain relevant or be seen.”