For a virus that mimics symptoms of the flu, coronavirus has turned all of our lives into a real-life horror movie. Despite calls to wash hands in the length of time it takes to sing “Happy Birthday” (or your favorite scene song), keep a larger personal space field and stop touching your face, COVID-19 has spread rapidly, making shut-ins of us all. Especially bands. It’s made musical events, large and small, impossible. The music scene is quite grim right now.
SXSW was canceled a week ago, 10 days before its commencement, resulting in 58 layoffs at the organizational level and predictions of economic collapse across Austin, Texas’ network of bars, venues and staff, many of whom rely on the two-week conference/festival to make up for an otherwise timid fiscal year. Meanwhile, Coachella announced its postponement seemingly seconds after SXSW, and bands from Green Day to MCR postponed or canceled upcoming tours or dates.
With a minority of brave and/or foolhardy groups carrying on with their touring plans, many of your favorite bands and venues will be struggling as we lock our doors and hunker down for a while. Even as you hoard toilet paper and hand sanitizer in your basements, there’s things you can do to aid those you normally support.
Order a record or a CD
Order it directly from the band. If you order from an online retailer such as Amazon, there will be a lag in the band receiving their cut of royalties. If you purchase directly from a band’s website, they retain 100% of the proceeds. Downloads and streams are also generally less remunerative than physical mediums for musicians. So buy a damned record, would you?
Purchase from their Bandcamp pages
Yes, we realize we just warned you about the hardships inherent to purchasing downloads or streaming for your fave recording artists. That said, the most independent and DIY of your favorite bands are increasingly turning to Bandcamp for their digital outlet. Frequently, they issue digital-only releases there. The artists can set their own prices, and Bandcamp only takes a small amount for processing, administration and hosting. The band get the largest cut of what you pay and receive their funds electronically in 24-48 hours.
Read more: YUNGBLUD announces concert livestream following show cancellations amid coronavirus outbreak
Pay more than the suggested price on Bandcamp
You may notice a median price of around “$7 or more” to pay for downloading your fave group’s full-length from Bandcamp. Yes, you can pay extra, as much as you’d like and can afford. Do it. It’s like tipping the band, and they could use those tips right now.
Does your fave band have a Patreon link?
This might be a good time for that subscription. The old-fashioned art patronage system feels increasingly like a good idea in the modern musical economy. Right now? It’s a real good idea.
Buy any merch from your fave band
Order T-shirts, stickers, pins, back patches for your sleeveless denim vests (which you should probably launder, by the way), collapsible drinking cups, moist towelettes—whatever the band have to offer. And again, order it directly from the band’s webstore. They will get 100% of the money you just spent.
Buy merch from your favorite club or venue’s website
Just like your favorite bands, your local venues need the same support. With Goldenvoice, Live Nation, AEG and more closing venues around government-mandated capacity restrictions and postponing shows, that not only affects the artists playing it but those operating behind the scenes.
Watch streaming events
So, this is the modern world we’ve heard about. Can’t make that gig during the coronavirus pandemic? The show must go on! Let’s put it on in our living room or practice space or wherever. Maybe stream it on Facebook or something? The list of bands planning Instagram and Twitch streaming gigs is growing. gnash, YUNGBLUD and Code Orange have already done it, and even more are looking into the idea. Your part’s simple—tune in! Twitch also allows donations, so think of it as paying door admission for a raging house party.
Don’t ask for a refund
We get that a ticket or wristband cost you money you could really use right now, and the show’s not happening. But do you think that surplus of beer your club ordered can be returned? No, it will likely rot before the club has a chance to sell it all. And staff need to be paid. Please keep the doors open on your fave venue. Paste that ticket or wristband in your scrapbook and move on.
Donate to GoFundMe campaigns
Austin’s Red River Cultural District—a network of venues, promoters and other music-related businesses and individuals—set up Banding Together ATX at GoFundMe in the wake of SXSW’s cancellation. Its mission statement declares “your donations will help provide financial relief to those in the Austin live music community that have been negatively impacted by the cancellation of SXSW.” This includes “venues, artists, hospitality and production workers, businesses and organizations that rely on increased patronage during SXSW to survive.” To date, 400 donors have raised more than $32,000 of the $100,000 goal. Your community might have something similar. Even $10 helps.
Make a playlist
You’re a music fan. You’ve got friends all over the world, thanks to the miracle of social media. You know your local scene rules or maybe you love bands from your friends’ scenes. Share your knowledge with the world. Get on Spotify and build a playlist. You can’t go to gigs right now, but you can let the world know how rad Ignorant Abuse, your fave beardcore band in your town, are. Praise to the skies that Lithuanian thrash band or grind-polka outfit you’ve discovered. Our musical enthusiasm is a far healthier contagion than COVID-19. By spreading the word, maybe we can help bands make more money by helping them cultivate new fans.
How are you continuing to support your favorite artist amid the coronavirus outbreak? Let us know in the comments below.