The Music Industry in the face of COVID-19: an Interview with Hillary Reese
Written by: Gaby Bendtsen
COVID-19: a pandemic that has swept over the world, affecting the way we run our businesses, interact with our friends, among countless other things. At the beginning of 2020, no American thought we’d be living in a world where social contact would be dissent, and by this point we are all probably tired of hearing about COVID-19. However, one thing we can’t avoid no matter our feelings is the effect COVID-19 has had on our ability to gather in large groups.
In the context of the music industry, COVID-19 has completely shaken the standard way of making profit for both artists and record labels: touring. Artists have had to get creative on how they present their music not only to make a profit, but to also stay relevant in the minds of their fans.
This is no different for up-and-coming country artist Hillary Reese. A girl with the charm, spirit, and kindness like no other, her music aims to uplift the spirit and inspire her fans, whether they be from her home state of Mississippi or from across the world. In an exclusive interview, Hillary Reese provides her perspective on what it’s like to be an active musician in a world with COVID-19, as well as ways that she has used her creativity to share her music in a now digitally-based world
*With the consent of Hillary Reese, this interview has been slightly modified for clarity purposes*
Music Player Magazine (MPM): Times are pretty tough for artists in a world with COVID-19. With countless concerts and tours cancelled, have you done anything special in order to connect to your fanbase?
Hillary Reese (HR): I have! I have partnered with SOS foundation for life which I am an ambassador for. We did a global benefit concert for all of the fans, and all profits went towards the Save a Life Fund. The foundation basically goes towards helping youth with mental adversities and mental health issues. We partnered up and all of the ambassadors were a part of the concert, and, you know, we had a blast and we put it together and it just aired on their site the other day, which is SOS4life.org
MPM: That sounds awesome! How did you feel that your online concert with the SOS foundation compares to the live events you used to do prior to COVID-19?
HR: Well, it was easier being able to pre-record the concert, but also it was really fun because I don’t necessarily get to see all of my fans at every single show I do, so the fans or supporters that can’t come to the show can watch that, as well as all of my family and everyone that wanted to be a part of it.
I also got to see other people from different genres such as Blues, Pop, Soul. It was one of those really cool things where I got to connect with a lot of different people all over the world. Live shows are great because you get to see everybody in one place, but there is definitely something cool about being able to connect with people that aren’t necessarily in front of you.
MPM: Do you feel that by doing the online shows versus the live shows your fanbase may grow to be more diverse versus local?
HR: For sure! I am usually performing at country events, but now I think now people that are interested in pop or blues can see me. And people not just local or even in America can see me, but people all over the world can connect with me and my music, which I think is so cool and exciting!
MPM: Once the world is able to resume having live concerts, do you see yourself continuing to do these online performances, as well as working with these foundations?
HR: Definitely, I think I really learned more about social media since I’m not really that high tech. I think it’s been really cool to see the fans that’ll show up on your social media that get excited and make countdowns [to my concerts/music releases], and honestly it is a really cool experience to feel that connection with people. We’re all feeling alone and we’re ready to get back to normal life, but we’re also trying to get through this together.
MPM: Have you changed your routine as an artist at all because of COVID-19?
HR: Definitely, I think I’m going to take more time to sit down and do live videos, collaborate with other artists through social media, and figure out ways that can connect with more people because I really [would] like to learn more about that. Seeing people face-to-face has been taken away from us, and I’ve really learned how cool it is to connect with people. I personally like it [online interactions], but I would say there are some upsides and downsides for sure.
MPM: What would you say are some of those upsides and downsides?
HR: The upsides include seeing people from all over the world, getting to make edits on my cuts and getting excited for the live videos. The downsides include not having the rush of being on stage or getting with a group of people. I am a very hands on person, and [I miss] just going into the studio. So that’s been a struggle, being without human interactions, but it’s also neat to see what people can come up with on their own.
MPM: What have you found easier to accomplish during quarantine?
HR: Working on my craft has definitely been easier because I have found the time to sit down and really play my guitar and piano, and really think about what I want to do with upcoming music. That’s definitely been the easy part of COVID because there’s been so much time.
The hardest part has been finding that creativity with writing. I’m the type of person that likes to go out there and live it then sit down and write about it, but that’s been kind of hard being cooped up in the house. Sometimes it’s great being cooped up in the house, but you kinda need to go out and live a little before you can write them.
MPM: Has COVID-19/being in quarantine discouraged you at all from your craft?
HR: I think it’s discouraging that [my] shows have been cancelled. Human interaction is such a big part of what I love, [getting to] see the fans and people enjoying my music,
However, it’s been encouraging in the aspect that I get to see a whole new demographic of people on my social media. Everyone is trying to get through this together, and that’s been one really cool thing to see: the unity that comes out of this
MPM: Do you have any suggestions, personal or artistic, for other artists during these times?
HR: Don’t put so much pressure on yourself, you know? Some people may be doing great during this quarantine, some people might not be. Always share “I hope you’re doing well” or “I hope you’re doing great.” I am just trying to send that message to as many people as possible because I hope that everybody is doing great, so I’m just really just saying “hang in there” to everybody.
MPM: That’s really sweet of you to reach out to other people. I think people forget about how we need to be reaching out to people, especially close friends.
HR: Right! And especially artists in this time because the music industry basically shut down, so it’s been really stressful for a lot of people. Those words can really change someone’s day and someone’s attitude.
MPM: Do you have any upcoming music, live streams, or general promotions that your fans can look forward to?
HR: I do have a song coming out in August 2020 called “Woman Upstairs.” It is very fun and empowering to women, which I am super eager and excited to get it out to the world. It will be available on every streaming platform.
MPM: Do you have any last thoughts you’d like to say in regards to your craft in today’s world?
HR: I think I just want to make sure everyone is doing okay and [to remind people] to not put pressure on people and keep spreading that message of positivity.
You can follow Hillary Reese on Instagram @officialhillaryreese, on Facebook @HillaryReese, and right here at Music Noises Spotlight Artist.