The Word is Bond has asked independent musicians from all walks of life to share their experiences coping with COVID-19 during this very tumultuous time. Our second voice is Buffalo, NY hip hop producer and MC Jake Sabers. He shares with us his tips for keeping your cool during the crisis and his opinion on how online and physical music distribution may change. 

Guest Post By Jake Sabers (MANIC JACKSON)

It’s 3 a.m. and I’m sitting between two drum machines and a stack of vinyl records.  This is where life’s always been, but now, it’s where I’m forced to stay.  The COVID-19 crisis has changed a lot of industries, leaving many artists with no choice but to seek out new opportunities in the wake of its rampage.  The world is evolving, and musicians and artists of all fortes, myself included, are figuring out new ways to adjust.

I’m a hip hop producer and MC.  I own Re-sampled with a few friends.  We like to make hip hop/trap music and distribute it on our own terms independently. We constantly evolve our sound and take inspiration from older and newer genres. Prior to the pandemic, I was able to go anywhere for inspiration and book shows freely, but that has changed.

What hasn’t changed is the collaborating; I have a shortlist of friends I remain in contact with for music production. We work together digitally, but the results aren’t the same as when two or more people are cooking up something dope in a studio setting.  With the wave of reopening happening around the country now, I think live music as well as collaboration is going to be a lot different. I think smaller, more intimate shows are on the horizon, primarily because of the new rules for social distancing and gatherings in public.

Digital distribution is the way to go in our ever-evolving artistic landscape.  Put all of your music out. Share it with your friends and push it on social media.  In a way, the stage is a lot bigger and a lot broader now. Online distribution is more accessible to independent artists in the industry with tools like TuneCore or Distrokid. Many artists are also beginning to stream on major outlets like Twitch. Essentially, even just streaming live sets can help you branch out into other industries like gaming and help build your audience. Jonwayne, an LA rapper I listen to, has been doing that for a few years now.

There is still hope for the music world as it becomes unmute; the desire for physical music as well as streaming is on the rise due to the nature of the stay home and social distancing orders over the last few months. I think small-run vinyl and cassette is going to be the way to go as far as sales, tangible items you can hold in your hand are very big right now.  Buying music in general whether it’s digital or physical is on the rise because many people now have the time to focus on their music collections. Most record stores offer pickup options too.

Creative priorities become easier to manage as long as you don’t let the craziness of the whole situation of the pandemic set in.  A few deep breaths and a re-evaluation can usually get you back on track. If you’re in the same position as I am I would definitely recommend trying some new stuff or going back and perfecting some material that didn’t grab your ear the first time around. Also, finding some new hobbies can also help fuel your creative drive in the studio.  My new ones are photography and painting.  I’m trying to keep it positive and trying not to view every day as a private happy hour from the comfort of my own living room.

Focus can be thrown off track for a musician too during a situation like this.  If you don’t learn how to control it, your mind can start to drift. Outside of the current state of the world, we are all facing some very real truths about systemic racism in our country.  Through music, we can fight corruption.  Distrokid will allow you to automatically donate a portion of your streaming revenue to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.  I’ve found that this keeps me at the mixing boards because I know my purpose, fighting a larger corruption, is bigger than myself.

The NAACP Legal Defense Fund seeks to abolish racial inequalities in criminal justice and policing reform. The fund offers scholarships to future leaders of civil rights and social injustice. 

Listen to the exclusive premiere of Jake Sabers’ track, “Ghost Snorkel,” created while in lockdown:

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