“We knew that there was revenue out there that people were spending on masks – they’re going to fashion companies, to pharmaceutical companies, why can’t they go to the music industry?”

Lindi Delight has spanned a career wearing many hats – and as of recent, many masks. As the music industry found itself in a subdued turning point, she successfully pivoted her boutique management agency, De Light Management, into Masks for Music: a project supporting music professionals and affiliated NGOs by generating both revenue and awareness through mask sales. Any music-industry organization or artist may register to sell KN95 adjustable and custom fabric masks to their own network, keeping 50% of proceeds. The project has already earned marked support from members of the scene, among which our cherished Öona Dahl.

Masks for Music co-founder Lindi Delight

Masks for Music embodies a positive story of entrepreneurialism in the COVID era. The project was made possible thanks to a dedicated team and partner network working hard to adapt to the cards we were abruptly dealt with. Over the past 15 years, Lindi Delight’s self-taught music events background has taken her from throwing parties in Toronto’s Footwork venue, to creative agency work and event production in Dubai, to developing Chris Liebing‘s CRL label showcases, to working side by side with Lee Burridge as All Day I Dream Event Director and Brand Manager. Under her guise, ADID jumped from a six event brand based in North America to a 16 event imprint setting stage across international waters.

Initiatives such as Masks for Music help draw bridges between the public eye, the needs and health of the industry, and the safety implications at hand today. We caught up with this ‘hometown hero’ – as dubbed by Global News Canada in their recent Morning Show feature – to explore how the pivot occurred and dive into the story.

After years of building experience launching events, campaigns, artists, and brands, Lindi Delight brought her skills in-house by conjuring her own management agency. De Light Management oversees bookings, venues, event production, project management, and communications: “everything is done by us – through the years I’ve been able to have experience in every field, so now it’s just really exciting to be able to use all that experience in my agency and also train my team as to how to look at a brand or an artist with a 360 perspective. We had a lot planned for this year, it was going to be like probably our biggest year yet.”

When COVID hit and Lindi told her team she couldn’t uphold their contracts due to lack of revenue, they stayed anyways and built something new in reaction to what the world was feeling, seeing and needing.

“Everyone believed in me, believed in the agency, believed in all of our clients. A lot of them were in the same situation as us. We wanted to stay on board – we support each other. We spent half of our time on working with our existing clients, artists and brands, and half of it thinking – okay, we know firsthand that there’s relatively no assistance for people in the culture sectors. If there is assistance, it’s a little bit of assistance for a little bit of time, and our industry will be the last startup running properly again. There won’t be large capacity events (…) We wanted to find a way to help our industry. This is something that I’ve dedicated 15 years of my life to. One of our co-founders for Masks for Music runs Grounded Festival in Israel, and we were supposed to be expanding his brand around the world this year. So when this hit my team got together with him, and we became partners to create Masks for Music

De Light Management splits its share of income evenly between team members, testifying to the transparency and unity of a team who built the project voluntarily and persistently within three weeks of the lockdown, celebrating each small success along the way.

DJ and producer BEC “I joined Masks For Music as unfortunately, our industry has been one of the hardest hit during the pandemic. It doesn’t look like large events will be back on anytime soon, so I think MFM is an incredible initiative that helps keep the music scene alive during this difficult time.”

There are two ways to generate revenue. On one hand, consumers can buy masks through the Shopify store with an automatic charity contribution for every purchase to affiliated NGOs. On the other hand, any music industry organization, partners or professional can sign up to sell standard or customized masks through their own private link, to their own network. All profiles are verified to ensure income will go back to the music industry. Partners can generate 50% of the overall income, not just the profit. Some, like twirlrecordings, have chosen to donate their proceeds to organisations of their choosing – in this case, the Black Lives Matter global network.

“60% of the revenue overall goes to helping our industry. The rest of it is for packaging and operations costs. This is unheard of for any kind of model, especially an affiliate one where affiliates are making 50% of the sale – it’s usually like a smaller percentage. We basically do that up because we knew that we needed to help and it had to be significant for people to take it seriously”

“This is a way for people to utilize their fan base their supporters, letting people that they’ve been entertaining for however many years support their favourite artists, venues and booking agencies. Every little bit counts.”

When asked how we could nurture more of an entrepreneurial mindset in the music industry and work with crises and curveballs, Lindi’s voice is as uplifting as it is sparkling. “I think one of these things is to have stories like this be out there, to show that of course we’re all going through a hard time, our future is unknown, nobody has money – but to see that there are people out there doing things, I think that absolutely will inspire people. It takes a lot of  strength, and it takes the kind of mindset where if nothing has stopped us so far in life to succeeding, then this can’t either. I think it’s that something you have to really find inside of you to say –  I’m not settling for what the world is trying to hand me. I’m going to take this and I’m going to find a way, whatever that way is, and just try it out. (…) It might not lead you exactly where you thought you would be, but it will lead you to something, and maybe something else that might even be even better. It’s all a matter of just getting out of your head and comfort zone, and just saying, I need to get on top of this. I think the positive mindset is definitely something that different sectors of the industry should encourage others to do. There’s this fear of failure in this challenging time that can be very inhibiting, but it’s important to push through as we will be stronger on the other side of this.

The project also points towards the resuming of events and how to preserve best health practices as they timidly reboot: “I do know it’s all going to be a trial and error, we just need to at least do the due diligence of keeping people safe, respecting others and letting them feel more comfortable around being around (…) Some venues I don’t think will open up until they have more capacity allowance because when venues do open up there’s a lot of overhead. If there are smaller capacities, it’s going to be challenging to be able to find that balance, and they may have to start charging a higher cover, door or drinks charge to balance out the fact that you don’t have as many as many people able to enter. Everyone’s gonna have their own way, but I think that masks will be an essential part of this.”

Masks for Music’s first custom designs have recently seen the light, the first one spearheaded by PAPA, a LGBTQ party brand

NGO partnerships stem from Lindi research on music charities around the world “that support our demographic of people“, reinforcing a network of organization helping the music industry. These types of connections and formalized ways of supporting each other seem essential when considering the standstill that touring, venues and shows will continue dealing with in the coming months.

Lindi brings most discussion points back to how this project was a team effort more than anything, and how proud she is of her hardworking collaborators. Through lateral thinking and hitting the ground running, Masks for Music has successfully connected some important dots. We look forward to seeing their presence grow, and more of their ideas unfold.