With the rise and worry regarding COVID-19, we have been advised to keep a distance from one another to help flatten the curve of the spread. This means places of gathering have been told to shut down. This includes cafes, restaurants, music stores, and live music venues.
As the result tours have been postponed, which means one thing for touring musicians: no income. The Canadian government has talked about an $82 billion dollar package to protect people’s jobs and help companies to give their employees time off. However, musicians are self-employed, many have to do other jobs to make ends meet and many of these measures won’t help them.
But you can make a real difference.
Here are 9 ways to help your favourite acts.
1. Buy merch from bands’ online stores
If the band is not about to tour, their online store is a good place to show support. Rather than buying their CD, Vinyl, cassette, shirts from an online retailer, buy it directly from their own store. This would mean that your money goes directly to the artists. They would still have small fees and fulfillment costs, however, their margins would be higher, thus more for them.
Bandcamp has always been a great place for bands to connect and get better margins for their sales. Last Friday (March 20th) Bandcamp waived their fees so all purchases went to the artists. Which was amazing to do. Do support sites like Bandcamp which have shown great care for musicians.
Treat streaming on Spotify, Deezer or YouTube as a try before you buy. Listen to it for free to see if you enjoy it but buy the music directly from the artist. Supporting Spotify supports them, not the artist. Numerous bands laugh and joke about the fraction of a fraction of pennies they make from those sites.
2. Pre-order the album(s)
Musicians are always working on new music, hopefully!. If your favourite has a new album coming out later this year, check out if they have any pre-orders set on their site. Bands, if you don’t you should. Buying it in advance means that cash is coming in, and shows genuine interest in the new release which the band can then show to retailers. Strong pre-order numbers can see the album pushed up the pre-order charts on download stores, online retailers, resulting in extra editorial support from magazines, webzines that might not have had otherwise.
If your favourite band has a crowd-funding page, do look into it. You might remember the collapse of PledgeMusic which was bad for a multitude of acts as well as projects they were trying to get off the ground, fell apart or their pledges disappeared. I know, I was one of the people who pledged for numerous acts, one of which was Soften The Glare. If you don’t know who they are, check them out.
Thankfully there are other platforms, Patreon, Indiegogo, ArtistShare, SubscribeStar, and Kickstarter. By the way, link to OUR Kickstarter is here, so while you’re supporting your favourite bands maybe helping out small start-ups ;)
These sites offer many bands a way to get much-needed funding to bankroll their next album and/or tour. They all have targets to hit, otherwise, the project gets canceled or scaled back so every pledge helps. Now, more than ever, it is best to show your support, not just for what an act has done in the past, but also what they can do moving forward.
4. Subscribe / Engage
Many acts have their own YouTube channels, some might be on Twitch or other sites. Subscribe to them, watch, like, and comment. It helps the site's algorithms recommend their content to other viewers. They too are stuck at home. Most are probably on social media. Now is the time to get to know them. Engage more with them, like, comment and share their posts to help the algorithms. This would promote the websites to recommend and show it to more people who might have not seen their content before.
Join their mailing list to keep up on date what they are doing, working on in the future.
5. Tell Your Friends
This is honestly the time, tested and true way of getting your favourite bands more exposure. Friends usually take a recommendation from a trusted friend vs. random critics on YouTube or magazine. Blood Ceremony is an awesome band from Toronto that I discovered last summer. I heard about them from a good friend. He knows my taste and if he is that passionate about a band, I would be as well. Got to see them play live, totally blown away by them. Total fanboy now. Tell your friends about new bands, maybe remind them of ones they forgot about. Word of mouth is the best way to help spread the word. Thanks to social media no matter what network your friends are on, if you’re there as well, you can continue promoting your favourite bands.
6. Get Online Lessons
You love your favourite bands because they are awesome musicians. Maybe some of them are giving lessons. Since most of us are told to stay home this is the best time to improve your skills and get to know your favourite acts more. Now I doubt Metallica is giving lessons but look to your local acts or other great teachers online. Steve Stine is a great teacher who has been doing online lessons for years.
Maybe playing isn't your thing and want to improve on songwriting, composing, production or just want to know what makes a song great. Rick Beato is the man for this. His channel is full of useless information for any music lover. We linked a video to his What Makes This Song Great series featuring Rush. Be sure to look at his, Steve's and other great YouTubers. Give them a view, like, share and help them out.
What are you doing to deal with COVID-19? Comment below and let us know.
7. Cover Their Songs
If you play as well, now would be the time to show off what you got. Song covers are always popular. In bars, clubs, venues and especially on social media people always love hearing songs they know as well. Do a cover song from your favourite local band. Throw in your own rendition of Creeping Death, Tornado of Souls, Dancing Queen. and now you won't be stopped by the Guitar Store guys from playing Stairway!
8. Push for their music on stations
Now more than ever people are talking about supporting local businesses. Take the time to encourage your local radio station to play more local acts. This would help the artist get some air time as the radio is still popular. In addition to that, they would get payments from broadcasting fees if they have their songs registered with companies just as SOCAN, ASCAP, BMI or other companies that collect money for bands for broadcasting and live performances.
You can also create playlists on your Spotify or YouTube page to spread the word more. People love playlists. You could be a little cheeky and put their songs on repeat on Spotify, Apple Music, etc. Repeat, repeat and more repeat! ;)
9. Show your Creativity
If you are an artist, have any graphic design, painting skills. Why not use this time to keep up with your skills and maybe do your own version of an album from your favourite bands. Rafael Melandi did a wonderful retro jazz version of classic metal covers. Check out his Behance page here. Below are some of our favourites.
What else can we do to support them? What are you doing to help your local acts?