“Not just any guy with a guitar,” read a review of Prateek Poddar’s music in the Boston Globe in 2017 that went on to rave about his “elegant songcraft and luminous voice.” Still, making a living as a singer-songwriter in Boston is extremely hard in the best of times. Prateek makes most of his income through gigs, all of which have been canceled because of the coronavirus. He was facing the loss of insurance coverage for his car, which he’ll need to travel to gigs when the quarantine ends.
But a special fund created by The Record Co (TRC) has been helping him and hundreds of other music makers. “TRC’s artist relief grant helped me raise the money I needed to pay my car insurance,” said Prateek. “I’m beyond grateful to them for stepping up and helping out those of us who have been taking a financial hit because of COVID-19.”
A grant from the Boston Foundation’s COVID-19 Response Fund boosted the special fund launched by TRC in March. TRC is providing financial relief to Boston area music makers experiencing lost income as the result of performance cancellations related to COVID-19. The Boston Foundation’s $25,000 grant enabled TRC to send support to more than 125 Boston-area music makers. The nonprofit has raised another $75,000, but the need is vast. More than 1,000 applications for support have been received and 425 have received funding to date.
The Boston Foundation was “there at the beginning” with early funding for TRC, a nonprofit organization that is dedicated to removing the technical and social barriers between Boston’s music makers and their creative visions. It provides truly affordable music workspace and professional development programs to hundreds of musical artists, most trying to make a living with their music. In a survey of more than 500 of Boston’s music makers, TRC found that only 11 percent described themselves as “established” musicians, 26 percent considered themselves to be “mid-career” and 78 percent said they were “emerging” artists.
TRC found that the largest barrier musical artists face is finding the space to write, record, rehearse and gather. It has helped by supporting more than 8,000 hours of studio space to some 3,500 users and now is building a new space that will feature four recording studios, 15 rehearsal and writing suites and a community room for gatherings and collaboration. “We’ve received so many emails thanking us for the support during this crisis,” said TRC’s Community Manager Maria Bartolotta. “Music makers have described how scary it’s been to unexpectedly lose their income and how the financial pressure they’re under is making this already stressful situation even worse.” A lot of people, she added, have told her that every little bit helps pay the bills and gives them some peace of mind. “People have been relieved and some have even been brought to tears to know that someone out there cares about them and their music.”