In a new series launching amid the coronavirus pandemic, Billboard is asking individuals from all sectors of the music business to share stories of how they work now, with much of the world quarantined at home and unable to take in-person meetings, attend conferences or even go into the office. Submissions for the series can be sent to HowWeWorkNow@Billboard.com.
This installment is with Eliah Seton, Warner Music Group’s president of independent music and creator services, whose husband has been working on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic.
Eliah Seton: My husband, Dr. James McKeever, is an anesthesiologist. He’s on staff at NYU Langone Health. We live in Brooklyn with our two 8-month-old twins, Amias and Cecily.
Jamie could see that, if not contained, what was happening in Italy was going to be a domino effect and happen everywhere else. Coming home every night to me, and to our babies, one of whom had spent a week in the hospital with a respiratory infection earlier in the winter — he was not prepared to risk that exposure. So we made the determination that as soon as Warner Music Group established its work-from-home policy, we would dislocate. We rented a house on Long Island. It’s our nanny, her husband and their daughter and their dog, and then me, the twins and our dog, Pepper. She’s a very active dog.
Jamie returned to the city and is working his shifts. He is focused on labor and delivery. They basically turned the hospital over to ICU and labor and delivery and emergency room. He works 12-hour shifts and comes home to our apartment in the city. Working night shifts has been helpful because it allows him to occasionally Zoom or FaceTime with our babies. It’s amazing, the extent to which two 8-month-old infants can recognize the face and voice of their father on a device. When I lean it up against something on the kitchen table and he can see the two of them eat there, [covered] with pureed bananas and oatmeal — they can watch him and he can watch them and they can interact. It’s a beautiful thing.
His health is great. He had a gastrointestinal-related sickness in very early March, which is rare for him. The hope is he had it, I had it, our nanny had it, our twins had it and we were just asymptomatic cases. But until we have antibody testing that’s reliable, we don’t know. He’s had all the PPE he needs. We’ve been overwhelmed by friends, family and colleagues who have donated essentials. He has felt very protected at work.
We make do. I’m up at the crack of dawn catching up on Slack and email. Most of my calls are Microsoft Teams video. My surface is on a chest of drawers. It’s basically a standing desk and I’m in a closet. Unfortunately, my standing desk is not out of reach for Pepper when she’s on her hind legs. She has made numerous appearances in video conferences.
We’re fortunate being two hours away from New York City, where there’s some fresh air and more space. People at ADA Worldwide are sharing photos of their work spaces — some have their home office, some are balancing a notebook on a crib, some are reclining in bed because they live in a studio apartment.
Jamie’s doing OK. When he’s in the hospital, the adrenaline is flowing, he’s doing his thing. The hardest part is being alone after a 12-hour shift. Until there’s much more significant testing, and this thing is under control and we know a lot more about it, there’s no obvious end in sight to the relocation — and when he’ll be with his children and husband. That’s a challenge. But we know a lot of people have it far worse. We’re counting our blessings.