Covid VS Philadelphia's Music Scene: An Interview With Louis deLIse
This is the first of a series of interviews Qurrent will be sponsoring in 2021 that directly ask musicians about their experiences during Covid19. The music industry has been hit hard by these trying times and no one knows if or when it will bounce back so we’re here to take a deeper look into our community.
Performance revenues, being the most reliable source of income for most musicians, have been completely lost and with almost $10 billion in sponsorships lost with it, the future's looking dim. https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/05/this-is-how-covid-19-is-affecting-the-music-industry/
On the other hand their streaming revenues have increased from 9% to 47% in the past 6 years but with only about $5 for every 1,000 listens/views on most streaming platforms, musicians are not making enough money to sustain their careers.
Taking a deeper look into the soul of our Spotify playlists and former live entertainers during these difficult times, I respectfully sat down for a phone interview with the kind and humorous, Louis deLise.
deLise is a musician, composer, and record producer born in Philadelphia and raised in rural Bucks County, Pennsylvania. He returned to Philly to earn a Doctorate in the Musical Arts for composition.
Although composing was his primary passion in college, he has accomplishments in many other niches of the music industry including, writing for TV, arranging for record companies, founding his own production company, gigging with symphony orchestras, conducting for prominent musicians, and, finally, releasing his own records.
His expanding array of titles gave us the opportunity to better understand the effects the pandemic has had on professional studio musicians, composers/songwriters, and record producers alike. In this interview, he also shared some of the challenges him and his peers have been faced with during the past several months and what he expects to see in the future.
INTERVIEWER: “So let’s jump right in. How has covid affected you as a studio musician?”
DELISE: “As a professional studio musician, I am now recording remotely when I am hired to record by other producers.”
Getting out of bed, he explains, and walking to work in the room next door is the silver lining of his frustrations sending recordings back and forth due to the lack of in-person communication.
INTERVIEWER: “I think that’s something we can all relate to. How about your new life as a composer?”
DELISE: ”I have been composing a significant amount of music when I am not totally distracted - depressed really - by the twin catastrophes of the pandemic and the Trump assault on our Constitution and way of life.”
”I have been composing a significant amount of music when I am not totally distracted - depressed really - by the twin catastrophes of the pandemic and the Trump assault on our Constitution and way of life.”
He has successfully completed an album of ten compositions that is to be released and published by his producers in Europe this April.
INTERVIEWER: “As a producer, primarily, I can imagine the changes have been pretty unfortunate. Can you explain how your life has changed on this front as well?”
DELISE: “I was under agreement to produce three singles for three different singer-songwriters. I decided to not have anyone here at my studio and needed to postpone my work with those artists.” He stops to calmly collect his thoughts. “My wife and I decided it would be best to cancel any in-person work we had to maintain the social distancing mandate for the safety of our clients and ourselves. Unfortunately, this means the agreements had to be called off and we don’t know if the artists will return for the same productions in the future.”
INTERVIEWER: I understand this is a hard time for you and your peers. Have you felt supported by Philadelphia and its community?
DELISE: “You know, there are federal programs being offered,”his voice filled with the disappointment of having to be happy with crumbs “and music industry companies like The Recording Academy have been doing what they can to help studio musicians and producers continue their work.”
Collaborative performance based ventures, on the other hand, have been displaced and while some have been turning to online platforms, not all have the infrastructure to stay afloat with the profits that these platforms draw in. The teams that inspire us with their labyrinths of entertainment, deLise fears, are “essentially done” until they can again meet in the same physical space.
DELISE: “This is a condition that frightens me greatly as I believe it could foretell a ‘brain drain’ of well-trained, high achieving professional musicians. So my concern is that these folks are going to have to find other things to do to make money (i wnat to make this bold almost like a diver i love this sentence). These are what I call the ‘vast middle-class’ of working musicians. They’re not famous, necessarily. They’re neither stars nor are they amateurs, they’re not amateurs. They work in the pits, you get a paycheck and you leave. It’s a fine gig but they’re ain’t none.” He lets out a nervous laugh. “They’ve been shut down. The actors, singers, and the stage hands too.” He says sympathetically.
“This is a condition that frightens me greatly as I believe it could foretell a ‘brain drain’ of well-trained, high achieving professional musicians. So my concern is that these folks are going to have to find other things to do to make money
INTERVIEWER: What do you expect to see post lockdown?
DELISE: “Studio musicians and producers have seen a huge change in their line of work and” as deLise sees it, “the shift to a faster, more commercial, remote structure could be carried into the future of music production.” And in a statement of the cold truth, “I fear that the lives of those who dedicate themselves to the musical contributions of our society will be changed forever.”
In the face of change, we can only hope we can come out of this pandemic as a stronger community, creators and patrons alike. So I asked how we, as audiences, could help our local musicians this year. Any money spent buying records, purchasing songs and albums, is one way to show your support because, let’s face it, music isn’t free. Streaming music on platforms like youtube and spotify will make the cents count.
INTERVIEWER: Thank you Louis for taking the time to share your thoughts and experiences with us.
DELISE: Thank you, and good luck!
After committing so much time and work into studying their craft, keeping our ears open to their struggles and responding with any support we can offer is the least we can do. Stay tuned to see how we can bolster their efforts in keeping culture ringing through the streets of Philadelphia as vaccines are distributed and the summer approaches. The entertainers are the ones that need us now.
The music industry needs us more than ever.
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Edited: Mar 23, 2020