One Republic singer and Grammy award-winning songwriter-producer Ryan Tedder told CNBC the Covid-19 pandemic is “really testing the creativity and the resolve of artists worldwide” but he remains optimistic on the industry over the longer term.
The acclaimed star who has worked with some of the world’s biggest artists including Adele, Beyonce, Paul McCartney and Taylor Swift, said he had “grieved” after the crisis forced his band to cancel a world tour and delay the release of its fifth studio album.
“I’m scrambling to develop something that would be a conduit for artists to actually put on a show, announce a new album, announce a new single. Because during this time, artists are still creating. So you can still release music,” he said.
“I have a slate of singles dropping with artists, but shooting music videos is a little tricky, you have to get creative.”
The writer of some of the world’s best-selling hits, including Leona Lewis’ “Bleeding Love” and “Halo” by Beyonce, told CNBC he remains “long term, ravenously bullish on the future of live music.”
“I mean, the show must go on. That’s my quote. The show must go on, and it will go on.”
Tedder said the band were finalizing its latest album, “Human,” in London as the World Health Organization declared Covid-19 a global pandemic. The album was due for release in early May but has since been delayed until the fall.
“We’re competing with the news cycle right, and to let the world know, ‘Hey I’ve got a new song, I’ve got a new album’, you know how loud you have to be right now to be louder than Anthony Fauci or louder than (President Donald) Trump, or you know? It’s really difficult.”
The Grammy-nominated band has released the album track, “Better Days,” and is donating a portion of the proceeds to benefit MusiCares, the charitable foundation of The Recording Academy best known for its staging of the annual Grammy Awards.
In a statement last month, MusiCares said the virus had been “devastating to our music community and the need for relief remains dire.”
It had raised $14 million for its Covid-19 Relief Fund since forming it in March, but temporarily suspended new applications until it could raise more money, after the number of musicians applying for help was already double what it would normally see in a year.
Tedder told CNBC: “Every musician, everybody that’s working in the music space right now is out of work — 99% of musicians and touring artists. When we go on tour, between 40 and 50 people are employed for a year-and-a-half and there are no jobs now, like zero, they don’t have retirement, and so we want to do what we can to help them as much as we can.”
He also said he thinks releasing the wrong kind of song at this time “can be tone deaf.”
“If you’re trying to release sad music right now, first of all I actually think that that’s the antithesis of what people want. I think summer’s coming, summer’s almost here. There is going to be a relaxing of the different stages of stay-at-home and stay-in-place and lockdowns,” he added.
“I think promoting singles and albums now, it feels a lot different doing it now than it did, let’s say April 1st. Every week feels a little different. I feel a lot better now about starting to promote. People want to feel like life is getting back to normal, and part of that is seeing your favorite artist going, ‘Hey, I’ve got a new song coming out Friday everybody check it out’. I mean, that’s normal, right?”
Tedder said he had been extremely creative during the Covid-19 crisis, doing songwriting sessions with recording artists around the world and pitching TV shows. The self-confessed Anglophile told CNBC he would love to work with British artists Calvin Harris and Florence and the Machine, and revealed he had recently worked with another of his music heroes.
“I have a song on Lady Gaga’s upcoming album that I wrote with Elton John and he’s performing it. So it’s Lady Gaga featuring Elton John and it’s crazy. So that was another one of my bucket list people to work with,” he told CNBC.