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. These include cafes, restaurants, music stores, and live music venues.
As a result, tours have been postponed, which means one thing for touring musicians: no income. The Canadian government has talked about an $82 billion 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 these measures won't be able to 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 an excellent place to show support. Rather than buying their CD, Vinyl, cassette, shirts from an online retailer, buy them 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 fantastic to do. Support sites like Bandcamp 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 the platform rather than 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 constantly working on new music, hopefully! If your favourites has a new album coming out later this year, check out if they have any pre-orders set on their site. Because if you’re still considering, then you should! Pre-ordering means that the cash is coming in and shows genuine interest in the new release, which the band can then show to retailers. Substantial pre-order numbers can push an album right atop the pre-order charts on download stores and online retailers. This will result in extra editorial support from magazines that these webzines might not have otherwise.
If your favourite band has a crowd-funding page, do look into it. You might remember the collapse of PledgeMusic, which negatively impacted a multitude of acts as well as projects they were trying to get off the ground either 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, then check them out now.
Thankfully, platforms like Patreon, Indiegogo, ArtistShare, SubscribeStar, Kickstarter, and even OnlyFans (yes, that platform's not just for THAT), if you can wrap your head around that.
These sites offer many bands a way to get much-needed funding to steamroll 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. YouTube’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 not have seen their content before.
Join their mailing list to keep up on what they are doing, working on in the future.
5. Tell Your Friends
This is honestly the time, tried-and-tested 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 extraordinary 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. I'm a 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 all fabulous 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 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 classes for years.
Maybe playing isn't your thing, and you 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 helpful 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, and doing a cover song from your favourite local band would greatly help them out. 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. Additionally, they would get payments from broadcasting fees if they have their songs registered with companies just as SOCAN, ASCAP, BMI. Other companies 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, reproduction, 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 your own version of an album from your favourite bands. Rafael Melandri did an excellent 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?
Photo by Edward Xu from Unsplash