From left to right: King Gandara, Angel Aura, and Angela Jane Bachmann. Graphic by Carlos Omar.
When the pandemic hit, Angela Jane Bachmann was putting the finishing touches on an album she had been working on for a year and a half.
She had to transition from working in a studio to completing it remotely, which Bachmann describes as a “totally different experience” — something that artists everywhere have been experiencing due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The biggest thing that has changed in Bachmann’s career is the ability to play shows, which she sees as both a blessing and a curse. Blessing because all musicians have had to stop playing shows which eliminates the anxiety of competing with other artists for venues, but a curse because she wants to be able to play shows for new audiences in new venues.
“[When] putting out a record, usually you get to play shows and that usually helps your audience. People can say ‘oh cool I haven’t heard this music before’ and that’s how people generally get to expand their records,” Bachmann said. “But because of the pandemic there is no way to play shows.”
The record was still released in 2020, but promoting it had to take on a different form. Bachmann has found it difficult to promote her record to new people exclusively through social media without feeling like she is bothering her existing followers.
“I’m kind of stuck in two different places,” Bachmann said. “Because I’m trying to not be annoying but I’m also trying to tell everyone because I know not everyone has seen it.”
As a way to adapt to that aspect of the pandemic, Bachmann was able to live stream her album on Twitch, which she had a lot of fun doing. However, Bachmann had to find various ways to “side-hustle” as a means of making money, which she does by making face creams and various skincare products.
A silver lining is that Bachmann has had more time she can dedicate to music. She is currently trying to find a way to make streaming lucrative and to make money through merchandise sales. However, live performance is the biggest money maker, so Bachmann hopes she can go back to performing live soon.
David Gandara, known by his stage name King Gandara, is a rapper born and raised in Long Beach who also had to record an album during the pandemic.
When the pandemic hit, Gandara had no music out. He had no producers or sound engineers. Now he finds himself with six different producers and two sound engineers. Creatively, he’s seen the pandemic as an opportunity.
“A lot of people were quarantined sitting at home, looking for something new to come out, that’s the perfect opportunity for [musicians] to get our name out there with music videos, promotions, merchandise, anything like that,” Gandara said. “I dropped an album in August and that did well in terms of numbers while everyone was sitting at home.”
The pandemic has also given him time to develop other skills, such as designing his own cover art and editing his music videos, which he hopes will present more opportunities for his career.
But Gandara contracted COVID-19 around the beginning of December, making him postpone the release of his album’s deluxe version and filming music videos. So for Gandara, releasing new music has been difficult.
Without live shows, Gandara has also been unable to reach the people that he could reach at a live show, so he has had to rely on social media as his main source of promotion. But social media can only take a small artist so far, and unless they make something that goes viral, it can be very hard to reach a larger audience.
Jasmine Aguilar, known by her stage name Angel Aura, is a DJ, performing artist, and interactive media producer based in Long Beach. She’s always been into music, but it wasn’t until a music festival in 2015 that she became interested in DJing.
2018 was when she began to seriously pursue DJing as a side hustle.
The pandemic has completely changed the way she can DJ. At the beginning of 2020, she had lined up a couple of gigs she was excited about, but was unable to perform them due to the pandemic. When the music scene moved to being entirely digital, Aguilar didn’t have the equipment to DJ.
She was skeptical about shelling out the money for equipment because part of the joy of their job was seeing people react to her music. She had a total of 4 gigs over the course of 2018 and 2019. So her DJ career came to a screeching halt.
Since streaming was not a factor, she did try and make mixes for SoundCloud, but Aguilar drew large inspiration from going out so it was a struggle for them to get inspired.
Her day job has made it hard to find time for music, since her job is entirely online.
“It consumes [my time], from 9 to 5, the majority of it is talking to people on screens so by the time 5 o’clock rolls around I’m pretty burnt out on screens,” Aguilar said. “I am very thankful I still have a job. It just takes up a lot of capacity for me to do anything”.
Aguilar recommends that anyone struggling to find inspiration try a new art form.
“Exploring different art forms can open you up to new ways of expression and can give you a new perspective on your previous art,” Aguilar said. “Personally, it also feels good to be learning and feeling like I’m making progress on something when the days blur together.”