I’m Drew, and I’m a viola player based in Los Angeles. I’ve just moved here from New York, having recently finished my Master’s degree in viola performance at The Julliard School.
Before lockdown, I was working as a recording artist, playing for Netflix, TV shows, movies, awards shows, and artists in the studio. My last gig was the Grammys in January, appearing with Ariana Grande and HER. But I was also teaching and doing social media influencer marketing, so there were lots of different parts to my operations. I had lots of work planned for this year, including a tour with Above and Beyond and a show with Roddy Ricch, but all of that was cancelled.
Fortunately, I have been able to keep making music and earn money during lockdown. Buying an audio interface and mic, and understanding how to record myself, has allowed me to take on remote recording work. Some friends recently set up Unison Orchestra, and they’ve arranged so many remote recording sessions for various different projects.
I’ve also been able to sustain my social media influencer marketing throughout this period. This is something I started in 2013, when I was a senior undergraduate. On the run up to my final recital, I decided to start a hashtag campaign, #journeytojulliard. I shared photos or short video clips, with the hashtag, to promote the concert, purely as an experiment to try get more people to come to my recital. I wanted to have a more authentic experience before going to start my Master’s, and having a bigger audience would increase the nerves.
My aim has always been to build my brand. I’m by no means the best violist in the world, and it has never been about trying to compete with others. I want to tell my story in a way that doesn’t matter how good I am, but what I can offer to the world.
Time is something we all have lots of at the moment. I’ve been using lots of mine to work on myself and my business. Both the operations side, by trying to streamline how I work, but also just making myself and my wellbeing a priority. Our perspective shapes how we see the world, so if we don’t take the time to work on ourselves and educate ourselves, that perspective can skew to the negative side. Understanding what we want out of life also protects us from unnecessary pain. As freelancers, trying to go this journey on our own, we are forced to be our own best cheerleader. And that’s hard when you don’t respect and look after yourself. It’s so easy to get into negative thought patterns, but managing our inner selves and knowing how to deal with that opens us up to possibility and the opportunity for positive change.
We’re all experiencing tough times right now, but we need to be self-aware and think about whether this career is something we want in spite of hardships. If the answer is yes, then we need to take responsibility for our own education; that means reading books, researching, trying new things. Our role as artists is not just to create art, but to tell stories that are compelling enough to engender emotions in other people. If you don’t understand the world and the world you occupy, you won’t be able to tell authentic stories about that world. You’re never going to have this much time and space to work on yourself. Take advantage of it, and continue to grow.
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