Toronto residents turning to music for comfort during pandemic

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WATCH ABOVE: The COVID-19 pandemic has many listening back to songs that remind us of better times and using music as motivation to get through the day. Mark Carcasole has more.

During the last several months of pandemic living, we’ve seen people take on all sorts of interests and hobbies to pass the time and cope with the stress (baking, new fitness regimens etc.).

One thing that really seems to be keeping people’s heads up though is music. Whether you’re listening on vinyl, CD, radio or streaming, it can make all the difference in a day.

The right tune can make it easier just to get out of bed, and turn a simple walk to work, into a Saturday Night Fever-style strut.

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“The Arkells are definitely one of my favourites,” student Lani Copeland told Global News during a stroll along Queen Street West with her earbuds in.

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“I definitely think it’s been really important to help me cope with everything going on. Even just going for walks and listening to music kind of really just helps me feel better in that way.”

For Jada Leakey, it’s all about what moves you.

“Honestly, I think the female rappers, like Megan Thee Stallion, Cardi B … They’ve made it fun,” she said.

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While she has started listening to many newer artists during the pandemic, she said she typically listens more to the tunes she grew up with.

Music industry expert Eric Alper says many are using music to escape the troubles of today and, theoretically, go back in time.

“It also allows you to reflect on happier times — before this pandemic hit,” he said.

“We’ve certainly seen a huge rise in music consumption in the last six or seven months.”

The recent ratings spike at Toronto radio station Q107, which is owned by Global News’ parent company, Corus Entertainment, is proof of that. Veteran on-air personality Joanne Wilder said she hears it all the time in listeners’ requests, especially in the pandemic’s early days when we were all stuck at home.

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“I felt honoured to be their friend, their companion through it all,” she told Global News.

“Certainly the music requests were quite frequent at that time. And it was stuff all over the map, but mostly stuff that took them back to a happier time: A concert they saw, times at high school with their buddies, times that we were actually able to get together and party.”

“And if they’re not listening to music, they’re making music,” added Alan Cross, host of The Ongoing History of New Music.

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“If you look at certain parts of the music industry, you’ll find that guitar manufacturers cannot make enough guitars fast enough. So music has become a very important part to surviving this whole thing.”

Toronto musician Brent Lunney can vouch for that sentiment. Performing under the moniker “FourOneSix,” he said having so much downtime has helped him immensely.

“In some strange way, I’ve been much more creative through this. At the beginning it wasn’t so much, but now that we’ve kind of got into a bit of normalcy to it, yeah, it’s been creative for me.”

While the pandemic hasn’t stopped us from listening to our favourite music, public gathering restrictions, even eased, have prevented us from enjoying it together in large crowds at live shows. That has made it difficult for musicians and venue operators to earn a living, and for fans to show their support the way they’d like.