Kendall resident and musician Fiona Joy Hawkins discusses life during the pandemic, modern music and the future

INNOVATION IN MUSIC: Kendall resident and musician Fiona Joy Hawkins with her handmade Australian piano.
INNOVATION IN MUSIC: Kendall resident and musician Fiona Joy Hawkins with her handmade Australian piano.

Musicians have learnt the hard way that they are on the cutting edge of innovation and market change, says Kendall resident Fiona Joy Hawkins.

The international performer of new age music was riding high on a wave of support as she toured China and America in 2019. She returned home to discover bushfires had swept the Mid North Coast and then COVID-19 swept across the globe.

"I'd just spent a whole month touring all the major concert halls in China and playing Carnegie Hall in New York. I was touring in America before coming back to find the bushfires at home," she said.

"Then COVID hit and basically the traction that you lose as a musician is just from highest rung of the ladder to the lowest.

"If a third of your income is touring and it goes to zero, then you've gotta learn to live stream pretty quickly."

As venues across the world and at home cancelled their bookings Mrs Hawkins started live streaming meditation music through the Insight Timer meditation app.

She uses her mobile phone to film the performances, where she plays on a rare 97 key handmade Australian Stuart and Son's piano, made from Huon Pine.

Kendall resident and musician Fiona Joy Hawkins

"I've just started doing music as meditation with Insight Timer meditation app and that's going really well," she said.

"It takes some getting used to because there's no audience interaction and you finish your song and you think OK, did they like it? Didn't they like? What are people thinking?

"About 8000 people stream my music per day and I make about $3.50 per every 1000 streams.

"Obviously monetizing is very difficult and the only way you can keep going is to do it for yourself, for your own practice and for your sanity as a performer."

Mrs Hawkens has a "Piano to dream" performance booked at Wauchope Community Arts Hall on February 14.

Musical journey: Audience members will be invited to relax and leave the world behind when Fiona Joy Hawkins performs at Wauchope Community Arts Hall.

Musical journey: Audience members will be invited to relax and leave the world behind when Fiona Joy Hawkins performs at Wauchope Community Arts Hall.

She said it has been difficult securing bookings and grants as musicians rush to resume their work after 12 months in hibernation.

"There's less and less people who want to spend time sitting on their computer watching a live streamed concert. People just want to go out and they want to see live music, however there are 12 months worth of artists knocking at the door trying to get booked into every venue," she said.

"Every artist is also after community grants and actually getting a grant is like winning the lottery. For me applying for grants right now has proved unfruitful and a waste of time.

"There's something wrong with that process of asking people to spend days and days applying for a grant, and then waiting to see who gets it. It's really wrong.

"It feels a bit like being put in the street and made to beg. I'm not going to get in the sandpit like a kindergarten child and fight for that.

"So the next 12 months I'm going to keep going with the live streaming, then after that my husband and I are planning to get an RV and travel around Australia to take music to people that would never otherwise have that experience.

"Take it around Australia to remote communities because I love living on the road, I love touring, I love taking music to different audiences and you can only reach so many people from your living room."

The concerts can be viewed live via the Fiona Joy Hawkins Facebook page.

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