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Local musicians find audience online

With live performances canceled for the foreseeable future, local musicians are struggling to continue performing for audiences and still pay the bills.

Many musicians are substituting live in-person performances for online live shows where audiences can tip them.

Local musician and University of New Mexico student Marìon Carrillo said, “I play all over the state generally and it has really been my primary source of income for like a year.”

Without live performances, it is more difficult for musicians to make the money they were making before the pandemic.

“Since the lockdown, I have been doing some live shows hoping for tips online,” Carrillo said. “Yes, it works but I don’t think it will be sustainable. Before lockdown, I was playing one to two times a week and making my entire living off that.”

The switch from in-person shows to online live shows changes a lot about the performances.  Including how many people musicians are able to reach with each show.

Another local musician Jesse Moya, who plays with the band Poor Man’s Blood and a solo act as Desert Ratt, played an online live show on March 29. About 30 people watched it.

“I played at least once a week either with my solo set (Desert Ratt) or with Poor Man’s Blood,” Moya said. “I miss it. It’s been hard not practicing with the buds and not seeing our friends at the shows.”

Even before the pandemic changed the way music is performed and consumed the internet was important to musicians’ careers.

“Online exposure is the best way for artists like me to make a living in normal times and even more so right now,” Carrillo said.

However, live performances give musicians and audiences the chance to connect and experience the music in a way that is difficult to replicate online.

“I play anti-folk and country-punk, so usually the shows are a hoot,” Moya said, “I’m usually surrounded by friends and new faces who get their toes tapping and glasses cheering for shows. Now, it’s just me and my cat in our living room.”

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Despite the distance between audiences and musicians, the healing power of art is still helping musicians and audiences through this pandemic.

“I think art is always helpful during good times and bad,” Moya said. “I think that no matter what, people look to artists for some sort of feelings to relate to— and I know we have a lot of feelings about this pandemic.”

Music and art have been important for many people during this pandemic.  Music has the power to bring us together remotely, even now that there is so much physical separation from one another.

“We are all in this thing together you know?” Carrillo said, “We can laugh and cry and sing all together. It allows for some kind of normalcy I suppose. I write my songs to ease my mind, now I am singing them to ease others.”

Loreena Cain is a beat reporter at the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at or on Twitter @loreena_cain

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