Maple Blues Award-winning Kingston musician Emily Fennell, aka Miss Emily, has been struggling through the COVID-19 shutdown like all musicians.
“I lost all of my summer season,” said Fennell. “It was going to be another great festival season for me and the band. We didn’t even get to announce a lot of our shows, which is always really fun and exciting. Everything until at least September is cancelled.”
One festival date remains on her schedule — it will be a virtual performance, from the festival site.
“We’ll travel to the site and stream the show from there, but they can’t afford to pay us much,” said Fennell. “Most it will go to my band and travel costs, and even then, the band will be getting less than they usually get. It’s not going to be a moneymaker.”
Many musicians, local or otherwise, have taken to live streaming new or archival shows on social media, including Fennell. They are, by and large, free to watch, with fans encouraged to use a virtual tip jar. For Fennell’s next show, however, it will be by admission. As Facebook and other social media platforms don’t offer a way to monetize live streams, Fennell had to get creative.
“This is a drunken idea that popped into my head,” joked Fennell. “I hope it’s going to work.”
Fans can pay $10 by PayPal or by e-transfer and include their Facebook profile name. They’ll then be added to a private Facebook group where the show will be streamed, and fans can request songs and discuss the upcoming show with other fans from around the world while they await the performance.
The concert happens on Saturday, June 13th at 4 pm on Miss Emily’s Facebook page.
As Fennell is a full-time musician without a lot of typical musician work to do, she started a telegram service shortly after the lockdown began. For $25, a telegram includes a birthday greeting and a quick song. For $40, Fennell will do a three-song mini-concert with a custom greeting.
“I did a big push on it in late March, and I was totally bombarded with requests,” said Fennell. “I thought that $25 seemed reasonable to spend on someone’s birthday, so I wanted to make it accessible. It was a lot of work, but it kept me busy.”
Outside of telegrams and the occasional Facebook Live show (including one for Kingstonist), Fennell has been digging into her archives with the hope to find material to release online while awaiting the opportunity to get back in the studio.
“I don’t want to do a remote recording or anything like that,” said Fennell. “I’m big on vibes and presence and having a party in the studio. It wouldn’t be the same if we’re not all together.”
Full details can be found on the Facebook post announcing the event.