Michigan musicians reeling from closed venues take acts online

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When COVID-19 closed venues across Michigan, William Love saw the three to five shows he was playing weekly disappear.

The Pistil Whips’ versatile musician’s side job as a substitute teacher at North Central Academy in Mancelona vanished as well when Michigan closed schools.

Love, 23, of Boyne City, will lose the bulk of his income. He is trying without success to qualify for unemployment. Despite the “debilitating” impacts he knows the shutdowns will have on him if they extend into the summer, he thinks it’s more important now than ever to do his job.

“I’ve just been trying to record new stuff, keep the musical presence going because everyone seems to be kinda depressed right now,” Love said. “Literally, a musician’s job is to bring people up, so I’m just trying to do anything I can.”

Previously, out-of-work musicians might drum up meal money playing in a public space with an open instrument case capturing donations from passersby. Love has been posting on Facebook videos of himself playing the flute and saxophone. He accepts donations through Venmo.

“I’ve just had a resounding amount of people tell me and reach out to me saying, ‘Hey, this video made my day, watching you play and watching you be a goofball made me smile and I really needed that right now,’” Love said.

He said he’s made around $400 so far.

Love is among the Michigan musicians who are struggling to stay afloat while in-person shows are canceled for the foreseeable future.

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