What it’s like to break into the music industry in the middle of a global pandemic

What it’s like to break into the music industry in the middle of a global pandemic

Words by Jess Boland

Hot tip: it ain’t easy.

Royce has been uploading music to triple j Unearthed for nearly three years now and her indie-pop songs have led her to support Unearthed talents like Samsaruh and Biond on Melbourne stages.

But for young and aspiring artists like Royce trying to break into the industry, a global pandemic and stage four restrictions have thrown a giant hurdle in the way of her aspirations.

“I thought [the lockdown] was going to be great, I thought I’d just write all the time but it’s actually been so hard, just because, like, you don’t have the motivation,” Royce says.

“My house is where I create and make music, and now because we’re always here and I can’t leave, I just kind of want to get away from that space. So, I feel like there’s not really a separation between my normal life and studies, and my music and writing.”

For an artist that takes inspiration from the outside world, being in a harsh lockdown has put a halt on Royce’s creative imagination.

“You’re not getting new influence from things happening in your life,” she says.

“If I’m having a great day and I find something really funny, that will put me in the mood to write a bop, but now it’s just all kind of depressing it’ll just turn into a massive sad album. When I’m in a bad state, I don’t really want to write, I just want to get out and escape.”

While lockdown seems to have brought the industry to a screeching halt, it may be the break some artists need.

As she gets older, Royce’s style has evolved, introducing more production and collaboration to her music, but the pandemic has forced her to take a step back from the sound she’s been developing.

“Yeah, like I’ve found myself actually really going back to the basics” she says. “You know, I started writing songs on my piano when I was 12 and they were horrible but it was just fun.

“I’ve really gone back to doing that and I think that’s been really cool. Like just going back to being at the piano, just writing the basic stuff and not having any production ideas, and it’s great, now I feel like I have all these bones of songs and after the pandemic I can just go with a producer and there’s just so many options.”

While she’s stripping back, Royce is taking this time to focus on who she wants to be in the industry.

“When I come out of it all I’ll have a really clear idea of like, yep this is who I am, and yep this is where I want to go and just really know who I am as an artist, where I want to take my sound and who my audience is and just have a really clear outline so that if I do go to, you know, a label, or a collaborator, or anyone else, they will know that this is who Royce is,” she continues.

“I feel like it’s just working on artist development, nothing too major but in the long run I think that will benefit me the most.”

For any aspiring musician, the repercussions felt in the music industry from COVID-19 have come as a harsh blow. The industry, which is notoriously hard to break into in the first place, looks even more unstable.

“[The pandemic] really has just shown how fragile the music industry is,” Royce says. “You can be in it one day and out the next, and when you’re out of it, there’s really nothing you can do.

“You really have to love and have so much passion for music if you want to be in this industry because it’s just not reliable, but if it’s what you love, it’s worth it.”

For more on Royce, check out her websiteFacebook and Instagram pages.

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