Emma McGann on Maintaining Artistic Momentum During the Pandemic

Originally, I planned to be on an April 20th plane to Seattle to start the ‘Duality Tour,’ the biggest tour of my career to date – 21 dates across North America. No easy challenge for an artist with no label support. While planning the tour, I came up with a new hybrid touring format that I knew could benefit artists of every level – especially for those touring for the first time. The idea consists of live in-person shows and simultaneous virtual shows, through which fans can grab a Virtual Tour Pass, even if they’re on the other side of the world. The purpose of this format was to make live shows more accessible and inclusive worldwide, and at the same time, enable artists at any level to tour in a more financially viable way, beyond their normal venue ticket sales. My ‘Duality Tour’ across the US was set to be the first implementation of this.

Of course, my travel plans changed. I’ve been at home here in the UK in my pyjamas, staying inside like much of the world, riding out what is a very surreal and very dark moment in time for us all. Like many hard-working artists out there, I had to postpone my tour (just two days after the tour announcement). It was a hard but necessary hit to take.

In the wake of the pandemic, I quickly pivoted towards a Plan B, where the virtual element of my ‘Duality Tour’ could remain in place. Although the physical tour itself has been postponed, weekly virtual shows will proceed via my website with my Virtual Tour Pass (with a slight change of venue – my neon jungle home studio). When SXSW was cancelled, my mind went to all of the artists who would be missing out, and I foresaw in that moment just how much livestreaming was going to come into play and be a saving grace. It’s been interesting to see the world utilize a format I’ve been using for years to continue connecting with their audiences.

Currently, it’s the closest thing we have to a live show.

In an effort to combat helplessness in the weird, emotional realm of lockdown, I rebooted my “10 Songs Challenge,” encouraging my audience to stay creative and write one song every day for 10 consecutive days. I’d push out daily writing prompts to help guide their ideas and I took part in the challenge myself, uploading a full song each day. Then, I uploaded those 10 songs to Bandcamp as Jungle Tapes, an acoustic fundraiser album priced at £8. I am donating 100% of the proceeds to Intensive Care Society here in the UK to directly help our healthcare workers. ICS provides wellbeing resources for nurses and doctors and sends additional care packages to aid those working day-in-day-out, helping to save the lives of those affected. The album will remain on Bandcamp indefinitely, and I’ll continue to donate those proceeds each week to ICS for as long as they come through. Hugely grateful to have raised £345 [in just the first week].

While we prepare for my first run of Virtual Shows, I’ve been reflecting on how much positive action I’ve seen from people worldwide. Whether it be through a fundraiser to help a cause or using a livestream to hang out with fans while they’re stuck at home – we’ve all found a way to continue to be together and support one another. I’m so grateful for those who continue to support me at a time like this. Virtual Tour Pass holders have helped to cover the loss of the tour cancellation itself – which is a huge deal. I’m thankful that we had it in place to begin with, and I look forward to performing both virtually and at my US tour dates when we are able to reschedule them in the future.

Follow on Instagram @emmamcgann

Photos by MIRLYN

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