Live events and the entertainment industry are two businesses in the service sector hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic.
With social gatherings a no-no to prevent the spread of the virus, they remain suspended even while some restaurants are gradually opening.
As a result of the nationwide lockdown, musicians find themselves without gigs and income to support their families.
Stanley Seludo, a full-time musician and drummer for the band BRWN, said, "Before COVID-19, my regular routine was overseeing bands rehearsing and recording in my studio Trip Station.
"At night, my band would play our hearts out in different bars around the metro.
“I was earning enough that I could take care of my family’s finances and send my son to a private school...
”Because of this pandemic, bars are closed, mass gatherings are not allowed and evets have been cancelled—we have no livelihood."
In this chat with PEP.ph (Philippine Entertainment Portal) via Facebook Messenger, Stanley, 43, related how he and his fellow musicians have thought of ways to survive in these trying times.
Through MusiKARAMAY, a social advocacy that Stanley co-formed in 2014, their group initially organized a drive to raise funds for the struggling musicians.
But the stop-gap measures can only go so far, given the huge impact of losing regular income on a family.
The family man and musician explained, “Most of the solutions are temporary. We wanted something that was sustainable.”
Thus was born the idea to establish a delivery-courier service staffed by displaced musicians, roadies, sound technicians, and people working in the entertainment industry.
Stanley said, “It was my friends Jolas Escaño and Maki Maraquilla who thought of tapping musicians with motorcycles to do deliveries.
"A few other friends and acquaintances also helped and provided expertise to get the project off the ground.
“That’s how we came up with Good Banda Courier Services.”
Good Banda is not like Grab, Food Panda, Lalamove and other established delivery services.
It is pre-booked, meaning it does not accept same-day delivery of orders.
What separates Good Banda from the competition is its added service designed to tug at customers heartstrings.
Its musicians-turned-riders will deliver anything—from food to parcels to personal gift items—and serenade them even.
Stanley detailed, “We have our harana service for special occasions. We can sing for you, play the flute or violin to any of your song requests.
"This is an additional service that we offer our clients. We have at least ten riders who can perform during deliveries.
"A number of them are drummers and bassists, they are not professional singers but they can carry a tune.”
Good Banda Courier Services started operations across Metro Manila last May, with customers placing orders through its Facebook page.
Each Good Banda rider earns around PHP500 to PHP2,000 per day, enough to help them feed and take care of their families.
The delivery start-up plans to roll out its own app on August 15, and eyes to expand service to nearby provinces in the coming weeks.
As painful as it is for Stanley, he seemed consigned to the thought that the negative effect of the pandemic on the entertainment business may not be over soon.
Some venues have closed permanently, while private events such as weddings and parties, a musician's usual gigs, are being postponed or cancelled altogether.
Stanley rued, “One rider musician was earning at least PHP3,500 per event. He usually had 20 events lined up for a month.
"But because of COVID-19, this is not possible at the moment.
“One roadie earns from around PHP1,000 to PHP3,000 per gig from the bands he was servicing. This too has stopped because of COVID-19.
“In my case, I was finally able to save up and open my own music studio last year. Unfortunately, I have to give that up because of COVID-19.
"I think it has changed the music industry forever.”
He elaborated, “Performances like concerts and musical events will now be online.
"It will be challenging to earn and be heard because not everyone has reliable Internet connection. And not everyone has the proper equipment for recording.”
In the meantime, Good Banda will continue to provide an alternative source of livelihood for idle music industry workers—hopefully, even after the pandemic.
Looking at the bright side of the crisis, Stanley has been rallying his fellow musicians to remain optimistic and give help where it is needed when they can.
He said, “The delivery business is the wave of the future. Luckily for us, we can offer something different because we’re musicians and we can use that talent to make people happy.
“Our situation is not permanent, it might take a while but there’s always a rainbow after the rain."
"Have faith. But we need to hustle and be more creative in finding other means to make a living.
“Let’s take care of each other. Reach out to your community and look for ways where you can help. I realized that while COVID-19 is infectious, so is kindness.
“If we all work towards this goal, I’m sure we will overcome.”