Portuguese musicians try to see a light at the end of the tunnel.
Some artists already give 2021 as yet another year away from the stage, with little or no support and practically no work in the area since March last year.
In the last month, Lusa spoke with some artists, some at the beginning of their careers and others already established, from various musical styles, to try to understand how they spent a pandemic year, in which the entertainment sector was one of the most affected, and what expectations have compared to 2021.
For Rui Maia (X-Wife and GNR), who since 2002 lives on music and dedicates himself entirely to it, live performances represent a large slice of the remuneration. Since the first confinement, in March last year, until now there have still been about half a dozen concerts with the GNR.
In the last year, the financial return he had was through music production, he makes “some at home”, and some DJ ‘sets’ that he managed to make in Lisbon, where he lives.
Apart from these punctual performances, the copyright, which he receives every year, and a work for publicity, which gave him “some financial stability”, received nothing more.
Initially, by choice and because he had savings that would allow him to endure a few months, he decided not to resort to government support, and ended up postponing “until this year”.
“At the beginning of the year, I thought that things would go more to the site, that we would start playing more, not least because we had a date for concerts scheduled in January and February, but now I will ask for support, because it has to be, because I can't to stretch the rope further, ”he said.
The musician criticizes the Government for the way it treats the self-employed: “we are a bit forgotten and set aside with promises”.
"I am watching the news and there are these promises of support, but in reality nothing is exactly established yet, no one has received anything, for sure," he said, referring to the support announced on January 14 for the Culture sector, by Minister Graça Fonseca.
Rui Maia admits that a Plan B has already “crossed his mind”, but he imagines that “even to get any other job nowadays is extremely complicated, because of the situation that the country is going through”.
One of the solutions, he believes, is for people like him to be “entitled to support”. “If we always contribute with the discounts, and the mandatory things that we have to do every year, we are entitled to this time the Government to support us in some way, until 60 or 70% of the population is vaccinated and we are able to return more or less to the normal ”, he defended.
Like Rui Maia, Chinaskee (Miguel Gomes) has also managed to do production work. In addition, it was not "100% without work" thanks to Filipe Sambado, musician who accompanies live. With his solo project, this past year he had a concert with a band and two alone. “I had never gone so long without playing,” he said.
In addition, Chinaskee is also a sound technician at the club B.Leza, in Lisbon, which has been closed since March last year.
The 26-year-old musician and producer was preparing to leave his parents' house last year, "but it is something that is not so visible now in the near future".
With a new album recently released, Chinaskee has little prospect of presenting it live: “I think it will be another year of production. Even if it is another year spent in the studio again, I have some things ready, I still see the studio and production ahead. In terms of shows and sound technician, I think it will continue to be slow ”.
Also Cláudia Guerreiro, bassist of Linda Martini, does not risk a date of return to the stage. "I am not the most positive person in the world and I have been saying for a long time that something like the one we had in 2024 comes back," he said.
However, he admits that "it is possible" for small concerts to happen, "if they arrange spaces as they did last year, like Casa do Capitão. [em Lisboa], which had small concerts where people were far away ”.
“It's weird, it's cold, but it's possible. Concerts with a lot of people, big concerts, I don't see that this is going to happen so soon, ”he said.
Cláudia Guerreiro's life was doubly affected by the cancellations and postponements of shows, since she is married to a musician, guitarist Rui Carvalho (Filho da Mãe).
With a “mini company” created, Cláudia and her husband cannot “compete for a series of supports, because it was only for companies that had profits in the previous year”.
The only thing they got was support for managing partners, which they will apply for again this year. "We had, I believe, three months in which we received 300 euros each", he said.
In addition, they benefited from an “extraordinary distribution that SPA [Sociedade Portuguesa de Autores] and the GDA [fundação Gestão dos Direitos dos Artistas] made". “They calculated the funds, according to an average of what we had received in the last three years and advanced a percentage. Which means that the following distributions will be negative, to restore this value ”, he explained.
Cláudia Guerreiro, who is also an illustrator, also received the “advance payment for some concerts” from Linda Martini, which were postponed, and became responsible for the ETIC illustration course.
“Rui, fortunately, is making a soundtrack for an animated short. It's cool, but it pays you the month. And I don't know what the next month will be like. We know that we are not going to have concerts, ”he said.
When asked if in the last year it has crossed his mind to leave music, he replies, “No one is going to leave music, a musician does not leave music, he continues to play, even if it is at home. […] It was the concerts that left us, we didn't leave them ”.
As for trying to find another means of subsistence: “At the moment, you can't do it either, because everything is closed. […] We have to find in the middle of this, and in this all-mental confusion, new ways to make money, which you can't do ”.
The life of musician Alexandre Monteiro (The Weatherman) has been spent on “doing other jobs, even without being in the music business, to be able to pay the bills”.
“Music was never my main activity. I try to see it as a ‘hobby’ because I don’t want to have that kind of pressure of having to be music as my main source of livelihood. If it happens, better, of course, ”he shared.
The last times have been for this musician "very happy". The Weatherman was a father for the first time in June last year, which made him almost "throw the pandemic out the window."
In addition, before March 2020 he managed to "save some money", because he had plans to edit a new album, which ended up coming out at the end of February, and "that's what ended up" the "safar". In addition to the 'nest egg' he did, he received "support from Social Security for a few months".
Because it does not live exclusively from music, it is not considered the best example of the problems that many musicians go through.
For other reasons, singer and songwriter Toy (António Ferrão) also does not consider himself “the best example of what has been happening in the area of Culture in Portugal”.
“Fortunately, I have had a job. SIC's soap opera [‘Amor, Amor’] it gave me work for the whole year, I made 20 songs – lyrics, songs, production, orchestration. Maybe I would not be an example of what it feels like to be sick at the moment in Portuguese culture. There are 30 years of career that are being put to the test and are being rewarded by many people who are giving me work ”, he said.
Although he is not “feeling ill”, Toy has lost a lot of income in the last year.
In 2020, there were 130 concerts scheduled. In January of that year he made "an investment in the production of a new concept of concert", thus investing the profits of 2019.
After the money was invested, the 130 concerts were canceled. But even so, he had to pay IRC and payments on account.
“So I spent the money twice. I spent the money I earned in 2019 on investment, and since I wasn’t going to get it back, because my job was canceled, I had to punch myself in a thousand and one ways to be able to pay the very high IRC and the payments on account, not to mention the IRS and Social Security monthly fees ”, he lamented.
Toy argues that the Government had “the obligation to compensate for all cultural activity in the same way that it compensated Novo Banco, which compensated TAP and the like, should have the same care in relation to Culture”.
“There was no one in the confinement who had not used a book to read, a film to see, a television program, music to listen to. Culture was present every day, to feed people psychologically, and this Government what it did for Portuguese culture is not bad, it is not small, it is ridiculous ”, he said, noting that he was not speaking for himself, but“ for all that are part of the sector ”.
In the few performances he has had in the last year – “some 'streaming' for companies, electric trios, and performances on television, 5 or 3% of normal activity” -, Toy tries, whenever possible, to take the people who usually work with him – musicians, technicians.
“I don’t pay them fortunes, because they don’t pay me fortunes either, but what they pay me is to share, it’s to share. Sharing is a very important word in what we are going through, ”he said.
For this year, there are “huge scheduled concerts”, many postponed from last year. “I don't have 130, I'll have half, but I don't think I'm going to do them all. I am aware that it will not be so easy, that everything will not be resolved in April ”.