Sask. musicians getting creative in age of coronavirus

With live events being cancelled due to concerns about COVID-19, self-employed musicians in Saskatchewan need to get creative to pay their bills and Sask Music is looking at ways to help.

"We're trying to remain positive. Obviously, it's trying times all around. But all we can do is work through it and try to do the best we can," Michael Dawson, executive director of Sask Music, said. 

Dawson said Sask Music has set up a fund to help those whose gigs and events are being cancelled. He said it started when the Junos were cancelled.

"People who've been banking on this work should have been having income, you know, for months that suddenly disappeared in a heartbeat and just realize the impact that that has on people's lives," he said. 

"We want to launch this fund to try to get a few dollars out the door to help people who are just trying to make rent and make sense of the situation," he said. 

Donations have started coming in for the fund, Dawson said. 

Some musicians are turning to other methods. On Friday, March 20, JJ Voss live streamed his new album. Megan Nash has started calls to action for people to support local. Ellen Froese created a list of 100 local musicians. 

Émilie Lebel is turning to hand-delivering honey. Lebel goes by the stage name éemi. She said the idea started with a song called Honey.

"It would be cool if I could sell codes on a honey jar for that song. So that's what I did," she said.

The honey jars sold quickly.

"I was just impressed by the support of people. Not only did they want to support my music, they also wanted to support a local business," she said. 

Submitted by Emilie Lebel

Lebel has the jars made through a partnership with Kitako Lake Honey. They are specifically branded for the song and include a download code. 

"The honey is super delicious," she said. "I was supposed to launch my honey jar presale on March 24, but because of what was happening — I decided to release them a week early."

Lebel is hand delivering or mailing the honey and codes so people in self-isolation don't need to leave their homes. 

"It's just been super supportive actually and super amazing," Lebel said. 

Submitted Emilie Lebel

The honey project has also been helping Lebel's depression, she said. 

"I didn't expect so much support, and it's just been amazing," Lebel said. "So this project is what is really bringing me joy, and I hope that it brings joy to other people as well."

Dawson said watching musicians innovate is fascinating. 

"As communities and as culture, I think we rely pretty heavily on music. Sometimes we take it for granted," he said. 

"We will persevere in the end."