Miki Speer is a musician and songwriter, who works to bridge the gap between grief and hope through both music and words. And she was just getting into the swing of things as a performing musician this past year when she ran into what she aptly calls, “the dumpster fire that is 2020.”
Speer currently is hunkered down in in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, where she is taking online classes in songwriting and audio production at Slam Academy, and hosting a weekly show on Facebook live, The Healing Half, when she’s not doing her (now remote) day job.
I talked with Miki about her music, grief work, and the unique challenges she’s faced as an emerging musician during a global pandemic.
This piece has also been published by Bearded Gentlemen Music.
Whether it’s teenagers playing in a garage with friends and just learning an instrument, a band that is part of a small, local scene, someone signed to a big label and touring the world, a record label, or a venue—anyone who makes, distributes, writes about, or books music is part of the music industry. They are part of the culture and the community that makes and defines modern music.
And the music industry has a major problem. It always has. It prizes and protects men and masculinity at all costs. Even at the cost of other musicians’ careers. At the cost of fans. Even at the cost of men. Even at the cost of human lives, mostly those of women.
This past week, this problem has become extremely apparent in my home music community of Minneapolis and greater Minnesota.
A Compilation of Anti-Racism Resources For White & Non Black Musicians
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Right now is a tough time for everyone. We're about three weeks into full quarantine in the U.S., death tolls are becoming quite significant, and unemployment is at a historic high. Musicians' worlds have been especially affected. Independent musicians depend on live shows, income from merchandise, and the communities they build to support their work and livelihoods.
âWith restaurants and bars closed across the world, shows have been cancelled for months into the future, with no definite date of return. Fans are stuck at home, unable to support their favorite musicians and local venues. There are no winners in this kind of situation.
But many performers are getting creative: hosting live shows online and releasing new music to get them -- and us -- through all this.
In these past few weeks, the novel coronavirus spread quickly throughout the United States, causing all manner of changes to flatten the curve, avoid a complete healthcare system breakdown, and lessen unnecessary deaths. Life feels completely different than it did just two weeks ago, with social distancing as the new norm. Restaurants are closed and shows are cancelled or postponed. Live music for the foreseeable future will be a memory.
But even the end of the world needs a soundtrack.