As the unemployment rate reaches staggering new levels, musicians are having to adapt to the situation and find new strategies to make ends meet. 

One resource now in place is Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, which has expanded regular unemployment benefits to include freelancers, meaning that many musicians could qualify. 

Applying For Benefits

First things first, if you are a self-employed musician who has lost work, you should apply for unemployment insurance through your state’s unemployment office. 

Varying state to state, you should qualify for up to half of your previous wages, plus an additional $600 week provided by the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program. 

Proving Your Losses

For many, the biggest challenge will be accurately demonstrating that they lost wages due to the current crisis. Having proper pay documentation will be key to claiming your benefits. 

Examples of necessary documents.

Additional Resources

Additionally, freelancers and contractors may qualify for small business loans, but should act fast. Available funds for the first round of loans went fast, and the second round is underway. Available loans are equal to 10 weeks’ earnings, and are offered at low interest rates, some even with the potential to be forgiven. 

A number of other private organizations have put forth resources for musicians in need — here are a few:

MusiCares Coronavirus Relief Fund

Imagine MKE Artist Relief Fund

Sick Leave

Self-employed workers are also eligible for federally funded paid time off, because of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. 

This act guarantees that freelancers can take up to ten days off between April 1 and December 31 to comply with a shelter-at-home order, doctor recommended self-isolation, or to recover should they themselves fall ill. At the earliest, freelancers can claim these days as deductions when they file their quarterly taxes.

Making The Best of What We’ve Got

With our lives uprooted in an unprecedented manner, it’s important to be proactive about taking advantage of available resources. Musicians should be sure to pursue Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, PPP loans, and available sick leave. 

We’re all in this together. When those in-person gigs resume, and they will, BookLive will be there to help with all the bookkeeping and then some. For now, be sure to stay up to date as we share resources, and check out our new virtual serenades platform.

May all your performances be spectacular. 


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