Coronavirus is sweeping across the globe with over 100,000 cases recorded and around 5,000 deaths. while every country has put legislation in place to try and contain the virus, here in England there are no plans to cancel large gatherings of over 500 people unlike Scotland who put that into place just a few days ago.
While nothing has been put into place by the Government many promoters, touring companies and artists for the safety of their crew and fans have made the decision to cancel or postpone upcoming gigs. Along with some festivals including Coachella which was set to take place towards the end of April being postponed to later in the year.
Just as I sat down to start writing this post the announcement was made that Record Store Day has been moved from the 18th of April to the 20th of June. This could have a hugely detrimental effect on shops as many rely on RSD to get customers through the doors to pick up exclusive in-store only releases. Please show your local store a little more love one the next couple of months, they’re going to need it.
With the leading form of music consumption being streaming and artists being paid on average a measly $0.00331 per stream, they’re left with no choice but to rely on merchandise and ticket sales more than ever before. The cancellation of any number of shows can be massive for a band/artist particularly those who are full-time musicians. We’ve got to support our favourite artists now more than ever, so today I’m going to be sharing with you the top 10 ways you can help them out.
1: Buying merch:
As I mentioned before, merch is a great source of income for artists as profit-margins are decent for them and you get a cool shirt, badge, hoodie, poster or whatever it is, what’s not to love? Not to mention that for many musicians a huge percentage of their merch sales are at gigs so they’re already going to be losing out, if your tickets get refunded why not spend it on their online merch store instead?
2: Go Fund Me:
This definitely isn’t something every band would probably feel comfortable doing but in the worst situations, it can be really effective. The example of SXSW being cancelled instantly springs to mind, so many small bands from all around the world lost out on money for tickets, flights and hotels to attend the worlds leading music conference and independent festival in Texas. Its cancellation has racked up bills of thousands for some artists leaving them out of pocket. In extreme circumstances rallying together and donating whatever you can help keep a band on their feet and making music you love.
3: Buy physical releases:
If you follow me on social media you will know I never stop going on about the importance of buying physical releases. I’m a massive record fanatic and try to purchase any album/single that I’ve enjoyed because I see that as me showing practical appreciation for their work. There are some albums I’ll be honest that I don’t spin an awful lot but instead stream, I like having them there knowing I’ve paid a fair price for the music. I understand that’s not an option for everyone if you don’t collect records CD’s and cassettes are just as beneficial. As I mentioned earlier streaming streaming has changed the whole dynamic of music consumption, bands aren’t happy with how little they make yet have no choice but to put their music on Spotify if they want to grow, their hands are tied and that’s a ridiculously unfair power dynamic that I don’t see being evened out anytime soon. For a band of 4, they’d need almost 1.5 million streams a month to be earning minimum wage. It’s disgusting and part of a much larger conversation I want to delve a little deeper into at some point.
4: Buy the digitals:
If physical releases really aren’t your thing paying for downloads is the next best option even if you’re not going to listen to them. Purchasing releases on Bandcamp, through their official websites or even iTunes will profit them much better than streaming alone. It’s still a small amount of money but it all adds up and makes a difference if enough people do it.
5: Add extra to a Bandcamp order:
When you buy a download on Bandcamp you can add an extra tip on to your order. This is a great way to donate while not using a crowdfunding site. The band don’t have to ask for it, it’s not public so I think a lot of bands would be much more comfortable accepting money this way rather than through a site like Go Fund Me.
6: Share share share:
This one costs nothing and is something we should all be doing anyway outside of the context of the Coronavirus. If you’re enjoying a bands music, share their profile and links with your friends and social media followers, get the word out about them however you can. The industry and particularly the online space is so oversaturated meaning it’s through networking and shares that consumers are exposed to new music. This one isn’t a particularly quick fix but building up that fanbase so when tours resume and shows are rescheduled there will be more people coming out to see and support them in the long term.
This is important for 2 reasons, the first being the social media and particularly Instagram algorithms. Engagement is everything. I run my personal social media accounts as well as the Into The Grooves one and a couple of others. Sometimes Instagram just decided to fuck with you and not show/shadowban your posts. Engagement is worth so much, turn bands post notifications on, like, comment, share the post to your story. The second reason this is really crucial is the mental health of the artists, I know artists can often feel low and stressed, this industry is really fucking difficult so to be unexpectedly struggling financially, not playing shows, interacting with fans in person could be a lot. For them to just know you’re there, you’re still listening, still supporting could be so beneficial.
8: Get out to shows that haven’t been cancelled:
As of right now, the government have not banned large gatherings so it is down to individual promoters, touring companies and artists to decide whether to allow shows to go ahead meaning there are still shows going ahead. Get out to them, support the venues as well, I think they’ve been slightly forgotten about in this whole discussion, grassroots venues are struggling all around the country and there is part of me that’s worried it will lead to a number of closures. If you live near a small venue that’s still hosting gigs, please go out, see a band and buy a pint.
9: Stream a little more if you can’t afford to buy
I’ve put a lot of emphasis on buying things but that really isn’t cost-effective for so many people and I don’t want them to feel like they’re not supporting their favourite bands. Streaming a little more will help them out, I’m not suggesting playing their music on repeat while you sleep but if you haven’t listened to their album in a while give it a play, listen to them in the background while you work. Increasing their streams can help them get playlist and blog features which ultimately will support them monetarily down the line.
10: Also consider crew, photographers, venue staff.
I briefly mentioned the venues in point 8 but this is going to hit the whole industry hard. People working behind the scenes are going to be struggling. You’ve got venue security, bar staff, cleaners, box office workers, cloakroom staff, lighting and sound techs, if it’s a festival imagine all of the food vendors, staging companies among so many others. There are so many people that rely on this industry to live, photographers are another group of people who are going to feel this so please, if you can, buy some prints, shout them out on social media.
That’s just 10 ways you can support musicians and the scene as a whole, it’s going to be a rough couple of months but if we all just do our bit hopefully we’ll be able to soften the blow