With live events cancelled or postponed, performing artists and musicians are reeling from financial uncertainty. Obviously they’re not alone; most industries are finding their bottom line impacted negatively in some way.
During times of crisis it’s natural to turn inward. However, in the short and long term we are better served by doing the opposite; looking beyond ourselves to offer support to others in any way we can. That’s what artists all over the world are doing; using music to offer solace: playing virtual concerts, and even writing and releasing songs extolling the virtues of social distancing and self-isolation in inspirational and often hilarious ways.
The global creative community is mobilizing and so should we – in solidarity and in support. With that in mind, here are a few ways you can do just that – all without breaking quarantine or even a sweat…
Engage in online retail therapy
Buy a record (digital or physical) directly from an artist’s site, Bandcamp, or from whatever platform piques your fancy. Shell out for merchandise – just because you are self-isolating doesn’t mean you shouldn’t dress like you’ve just been to a cool live show. Order a t-shirt, or whatever inspires – either to pick up your spirits or to pour your spirits into. You name it, you can find it; shot glasses, BBQ sauce, underwear, band-branded onesies – the options are endless. And while well-known, well-heeled artists typically offer the wackiest options, there are plenty of indie artists, such as Pup, out there who are determined to expand your horizons in terms of musical memorabilia. Better yet, spread the love around with a Bandcamp gift card. Beyond putting a few bucks in an artist’s pocket, you’ll be providing comfort and joy to other people in your life.
Tip well, and often
This applies across the board to anyone providing a service, and now more than ever. From local eateries offering take out and delivery to recording artists offering up music on various platforms including Bandcamp and Noisetrade.
Be a patron of the arts
You don’t need to commission an orchestral composition created specifically in your honour. Although if that’s your bag, feel free. All it really takes is subscribing to artists who use Patreon (as a means to supplement their income), or starting and/or contributing to a gofundme campaign that helps musicians working in your own community. By giving just a little (in some cases just a buck at a time on Patreon) you may get a fair bit in return, including access to music and other content unavailable any other way.
Stream, follow, share – repeat
Call up your local radio station and request artists you love, or just stream their music on repeat. Better still, do that and make it a daily priority to discover local and/or little-known artists and do the same with their music. Follow them on social media. Send encouraging messages. Make a playlist of your favourite music and share it widely. The modern version of the mixtape is a personal and thoughtful way of letting others know you’re thinking of them and making one may just prompt them to buy some music and merch of their very own. Every little bit helps.
Take part in artist driven efforts to inspire, educate and fundraise
Musicians across the world are harnessing their skills and creativity to reach out and help others. New virtual live shows by artists of all descriptions are announced daily. Some bands are offering online music classes. Others are releasing unique, limited edition content in an effort to help their own crew and support staff – even as their own means of sustaining themselves financially disappear.
Support your local music scene
Order delivery from a local restaurant or bar that hosts shows by local acts. Play the role of homebound live promoter by setting up a virtual concert in partnership with a local artist over Twitch Music, Skype, Zoom, Facebook Live or Instagram Live.Then link in friends and family and get everyone to kick in to join in. Search for local artists or music educators nearby and ask them for a virtual lesson. If a show you’ve bought tickets for has been cancelled, consider transferring those tickets to a future performance or donating your refund to an organization that offers direct support to the musical community – like the Unison Benevolent Fund.
Whatever you decide to do, share your efforts, spread the word, and inspire others. We’re all in this together, so while we’re practicing social/physical distancing let’s practice helping others. Who knows? If we get really good at it, it may just become something of a habit; a new normal we can continue with, in person, up close and personal, when we get back to the old normal.