CHICAGO (CBS) — The federal coronavirus stimulus package is great news for many, but for others their financial future is still very much in the air. They’re workers in the “gig economy”. They’re self employed and worried if they’ll get any money to pay the bills.
Liza Micelli started playing the piano at four years old‚ and from then on she practiced and practiced.
“Sometimes my mom would have to yell at me to get off the piano after midnight,” she said. “‘Time to go to bed.'”
All that work paid off. Micelli is a highly accomplished professional musician in Chicago.
“It is my life, and it’s a big part of my identity,” she said.
But suddenly the work is gone for Chicago’s musicians.
“Right now we’re faced with 100% unemployment,” said Rich Daniels, who leads the City Lights Orchestra.
Daniels is a senior board member of the musicians union. The coronavirus has shut down restaurants, bars, nightclubs and special events where musicians make their livings.
“These musicians live on the economic margins or our society,” he said. “They live from gig to gig in many instances.”
They’re members of the gig economy. Like freelance workers, if they don’t have a gig, they don’t get paid.
Peter Mack is a drummer, and Micelli’s boyfriend.
“We’ve been waiting for the sun to come back out on those gigs,” he said.
Like all dine-in restaurants, the Girl and Goat closed. But a charity event was to be held there next week. It was canceled, so Micelli and Mack lost that gig, too.
The hope now is that a multi-trillion dollar federal stimulus will trickle down to the places that employ musicians and other gig workers.
“There are real dollars out there,” Daniels said. “The question is, ‘How do we get those dollars into the pockets of these individuals as soon as possible?'”
For now Micelli and Mack are teaching young musicians online‚ hoping to be back on the bandstand soon.
“This is how I make my living,” said Micelli.
The musicians union has been working with members of Congress hoping to get federal help, and a number of charities have been set up for musicians.