The global coronavirus pandemic has left no industry unrattled. The music industry has suffered immensely, and many small concert halls, venues, and arts organizations will have to close their doors in the wake.
Being non-essential means that, even as some places ease restrictions on businesses such as restaurants and salons, music venues, theatres, and listening rooms are still in limbo. Venues have had to completely reimagine how they do business. Many are running skeleton crews, and limiting performances to only a handful of tickets in order to ensure social distancing.
It can seem daunting to help out in the midst of this crisis. But there are ways we can all pitch in to make sure people who work in the entertainment industry stay employed through the pandemic and beyond.
Follow, like, subscribe, and stream - Cost: FREE
Don’t underestimate the power of social media engagement. Platforms like YouTube allow monetization at certain levels of subscribership and watch time, and Instagram’s algorithm prioritizes users based on follower count and post engagement. A quick, easy, and free way to help a musician you care about is to like, include a long comment (not just emojis!), and make sure you’re following them.
The same thing goes for following, liking, and adding tracks to playlists on Spotify or other streaming services. The bonus with this is that many artists do get paid for those streams! It’s not a lot (looking at you, .003 cents per play on Spotify) but those plays add up, and your boost in the algorithm increases their chances of getting more plays.
Check-in on people - Cost: FREE
If you’re reading this article, you probably personally know some musicians. And while I can’t speak for all musicians, it feels safe to tell you that WE’RE NOT OKAY. A small gesture like a text, an email, or a well-timed meme or TikTok in their DMs can go a long way in letting them know they’re not forgotten and that you love them.
If you want to go the extra mile, you can ask folks what they need in terms of support for their craft. Honestly, having a few more faces on a Livestream or a handful of followers on social media can go a long way in boosting their signals to the right folks as they work to find new ways to share their craft in this COVID landscape. And of course, a loving reminder to drink some dang water and breathe is always welcome.
Call/write your representatives - Cost: FREE
Lots of folks in this industry are self-employed, and while many states in the US have tried to revamp their unemployment systems to accommodate this, it’s not working. Many folks haven’t seen a dime, and many are in a tenuous situation where benefits are running out. On top of that, if they happen to pick up a job for a few weeks, they could lose their benefits entirely. They are relying on odd jobs, grants, and other forms of employment to keep afloat.
While musicians and other performers are the faces of this industry, none of the live entertainment we enjoy would be possible without those who work behind the scenes. Box office, front of house, technical, and management staff pull an enormous amount of weight when it comes to putting on live music, and those people have been displaced or on reduced hours since March.
Taking a few minutes out of your week to contact your state and local representatives and go to bat for these folks can make a huge difference. Remind those representatives who they work for!
In addition to these free things, here are a few things you can do if you want to go the extra mile.
(Photo above: How musicians feel when you go the extra mile for them)
Commission a Musician - Cost: Variable
Want some live musicians for your intimate elopement ceremony? Need some music for a project you’re working on?
You’re in luck! There are THOUSANDS of musicians out there who can meet each of these needs and more. If you have a musical need on your hands, consider crowdsourcing recommendations on social media or visiting freelance sites like Fiverr* and GigSalad* to find the perfect fit.
Take some lessons - Cost: Variable
Want lessons for your kid (or for yourself)? Musicians have gotten pretty darn good at teaching (and learning) remotely recently. Not having to commute to lessons has also freed up more time in folks’ schedules, and lots of people are ready, waiting, and happy to work with new students.
The best part is that you don’t have to live near the teacher anymore. I can go online right now and book a session with a teacher in Los Angeles (so can you!). All you need is an internet connection, an instrument, and an interest!
Attend an online show - Cost: Variable
Many listening rooms, theatres, and other music venues are hosting high-quality video streams of some top-notch performers. These range anywhere from free (or a suggested donation) to higher-end productions in the hundreds, but there are tons of them happening constantly across the globe.
I recently got to watch a stream that featured blues legend Gaye Adegbalola, rising star Will Gittens, and guitar phenom Tommy Emmanuel (among others) through Tosco Music in Charlotte, NC. The suggested donation was $10 and I got to enjoy the concert from the comfort of my favorite chair. Bonus: I got to wear PJs and eat snacks the whole time.
Purchase merchandise or support on Patreon - Cost: Variable
Many musicians, classical and non, have merchandise available for purchase. This can be more standard products like shirts and stickers, or sheet music, pre-recorded performances you can download, and a host of other creative things.
Many musicians are also on Patreon and other crowdfunding sites. These sites allow them to offer exclusive content such as unreleased recordings, video masterclasses, and more. I subscribe to a few musicians’ Patreons and get tons of new ideas, warm-ups, and teaching techniques from them each month, all for just a few dollars.
2020 has been challenging for musicians, but it’s comforting to know that there are tangible ways to make a difference. I hope you’re able to choose one or two of these things this week and show your support. Those little gestures of kindness go a very long way.
*VWCM and Kendra Harding are in no way affiliated with Fiverr or GigSalad. This is not sponsored content.