Co-written by Jenna Barrott of Deep Blue PR + Matt Torres of Soundazed
Like countless industries, families, and individuals, the music community is quickly feeling the pressing burdens caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. From postponed and canceled tours to delayed releases and music festivals: artists and their teams, venues, employees, fans, and a spectrum of stakeholders, are feeling the blunt force of this screeching halt. For many in the industry, especially independent artists and establishments, this crisis is a direct loss of livelihood, among other prevalent issues.
The road ahead is still unclear but the past few weeks haven’t been entirely demoralizing. Taking to IG Stories with higher frequency, performing live stream sets, remote collaborations, Q&As, and even just taking a moment to honestly discuss how coronavirus and self-quarantines are affecting their mental health and personal lives, musicians across the globe are quickly nurturing empathy and close-knit togetherness in unique ways.
While many of us practice social distancing in a bid to flatten the curve, there are ways we can still show our support to the industry that is a source of happiness and inspiration for many in their day-to-day lives. So today we’re sharing ways to support the collective music community during the era of COVID-19, quarantines, and how artists themselves can seek remedies.
1. Hold on to your postponed concert and festival tickets
From artists embarking on their first headline tours only to be cut short to those finally landing coveted slots at now postponed or canceled festivals, the shift is being felt by everyone. Independent music venues and rising artists, especially, are having to make tough choices, so if you can – hold on to your postponed concert and festival tickets.
Artists, venues, and many festivals, of course, have already announced refunds will be available, but in solidarity with the musicians that we care deeply about – the support means everything in these trying days. When the time is right: support reopenings, tours, and our ability to attend these events as a whole.
2. Buy merchandise and artist exclusives
Buying merchandise is one of the most direct ways of financially supporting an artist in today’s music industry. With this in mind, artists are dropping exclusives, accessories, and limited edition collabs with more frequency. So if you’ve been thinking about picking up that dope band shirt already in your cart, now’s a great time to do it. Be sure to check out the artist’s website for their online merch store details. In doing so, you can rest assured, in most cases the majority of profit will go straight to the artist.
3. Purchase music in all formats
In addition to buying merchandise online, you can also purchase vinyl and music. Many online music distributors or stores are finding ways to support artists by forgoing their commissions on sales or increasing promotion and awareness of just how important record sales are right now. This week, Bandcamp CEO Ethan Diamond announced that the company will be waiving their revenue share on sales for 24 hours starting 12 am PST tonight. In a sobering effort to illustrate the reality of the situation, he stated: “For many artists, a single day of boosted sales can mean the difference between being able to pay rent or not.”
Announced last week, the 13th annual Record Store Day has been postponed from April to June as a result of the pandemic. Historically, this beloved cultural event has caused a welcome spike in vinyl sales benefitting traditional brick and mortar record stores and artists alike. With the date now rescheduled to June 20th, you now have more time to explore some of the many exclusive releases that will be available and your local shops participating.
4. Stream, stream, stream, and share
Streaming is one of the few cornerstones of the music industry that hasn’t gone on hold during this critical time. Below are some of the ways you could show support on streaming services:
- Follow artists on your preferred streaming platform: By following, you’ll be among the first to know when new music drops. Spotify, for example, adds new releases of any artist you follow to your “Release Radar” playlist and library.
- Stream away: Simply listening to your favorite artist’s music also helps. Check out the profiles of your favorite emerging acts and see if they’ve released any new music. You could also get reacquainted with some of your favorite older releases.
- Create your own playlists and share with your followers: If you’re always the one reaching for the aux – now’s a great time to flex your curation skills. Pick five artists your friends might not already know, make a playlist and SHARE IT.
5. Show love and support on social media
With many artists feeling the burden of social isolation in an industry already rife with mental health issues, including depression and anxiety, now is a great time to show the most support. Simply showing some love on social media is a sure-fire way to let them know you’re with them during this challenging time. Not only does sharing an artist’s music on your social media accounts let them know you care, but it potentially exposes them to new fans among your followers. Yes, we’re all micro-influencers.
To ensure you don’t miss a beat, be sure to turn post notifications on across their social channels. Billboard is also keeping a running list of live streams and online music events.
6. Pay it forward and donate
We are all feeling the hit as a result of COVID-19, but if you’re in the position to donate funds, then we’re providing a list of great organizations below who are supporting the music industry during this time of need.
MusicCares COVID-19 Relief Fund – The Recording Academy’s MusicCares organization has set up a disaster relief fund for artists in need providing grants of up to $1000 to compensate for canceled work. Find info here.
Groupmuse Musician Relief Fund – Online social and classical performance platform Groupmuse is raising $25,000 to pay all the musicians who have lost earnings due to the cancellation of Groupmuse and other gigs.
NOMAD Fundraiser for Touring Crew – Set up by tour manager Frank Fanelli, this GoFundMe supports the countless touring crew staff who have lost jobs due to canceled tours and events. The fund supports all the workers who help make live music happen including merchandise sellers, drivers, tour managers, photographers & videographers, security, production coordinators to name a few. For every $20 donated by an individual, they’ll also receive a “Merch Daddy” t-shirt as thanks for their support.
Support Songbyrd and U Street Music Hall Staff & Gig Workers – Being a DC-based blog, there’s no way we could write this article without directly supporting the venues providing a heartbeat for this beautiful city. Like many venues across the U.S., Songbyrd Music House and U Street Music Hall have hosted some of music’s best artists and now have their doors shut until further notice. With over 60 collective employees, gig workers, and some of our friends living in hella expensive D.C. without an income right now, these fundraisers seek to support the staff that have given so much to Songbyrd’s and UHall’s performers, patrons, and the DC live music community.
NYC Low-Income Artist + Freelancer Relief Fund – New York-based artists Shawn Escariga and Nadia Tykulsker have set up a GoFundMe to raise money to support artists and freelancers who are taking a financial hit as a result of COVID-19. With a fundraising goal of $125,000, the organizers are “hoping that the momentum of the fundraiser picks up and that we can make enough to reopen the surveys within the week.”
The fundraisers listed above are just some of the many music organizations and sectors currently in need of support. For a larger list of resources for music professionals, Billboard has created a comprehensive list of state-by-state resources.