How can you show love to musicians during a global pandemic?

Saturday, February 20, 2021 - 2:28pm

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Design by Brianna Manzor

Concerts are one of my favorite things in the world. The feeling of watching your favorite artist perform live, packed against other fans singing along to the same songs simultaneously is a feeling unmatched by any other. Sadly, in the wake of COVID-19, live music came to a screeching halt, and artists across the country were forced to cancel shows with no certainty as to when they could reschedule. This occurrence is devastating for the live music industry, which was supposed to have its largest revenue-generating year in 2020. As the pandemic drags on, live music venues are dropping one by one, making it even more difficult for musicians to book future shows with less venues available to them. 

For musicians, this is a major loss of revenue. In a world dominated by streaming where artists only earn fractions of a penny per stream, live shows are a primary source of income. While celebrity artists will probably make it through the pandemic unscathed and have the resources to make new music and engage in other projects through brand partnerships, smaller artists who are just kicking off their music careers are floundering. Without ticket sales, many of these new artists can’t pursue music sustainably, either needing to find other jobs or quit music altogether. 

In order to make up for their losses, we as music consumers can step up and show our favorite artists some love by supporting them with our own resources. Here are a few ways to serve artists in this crisis so that the talented artists we love can continue to make music once the pandemic is over.

Buy merch!

Remember that t-shirt you were eyeing at the last concert you attended but didn’t buy? Now is the time to grab it! Merchandise sales account for a large portion of an artist’s income, and most artists have websites where you can buy their concert gear online. Use the money you’ve saved on concert tickets and buy a shirt, vinyl or poster from the groups you love. Merchandise sales are one of the few forms of income that artists themselves fully benefit from, so it’s time to do a little retail therapy. 

Shop at independent record stores. 

Locally-owned music stores are more likely to sell products from local artists, so look to these places first. By shopping at independently-owned stores, you’re not only supporting the local artists in your area, but also your local small businesses. 

Tune in to live streams! 

Show your favorite artists some love by tuning in to their live stream events. Since artists can’t perform live and in-person, many have taken their talents online and are hosting live-streamed concerts. Some artists use these events to raise money for their local music communities, so invite your friends and have a watch party to boost that artist’s views. If you can’t attend a live-streamed event, consider promoting it on your social media and bringing it up with friends. Livestreams are an effective avenue for artists to interact with their fans, and they’re a great opportunity for you and your friends to interact with the artists you love on a more personal level.  

Follow, share, stream!

When artists are making a fraction of a penny per stream, simply listening to their music is not enough. While pre-saving songs and adding them to your playlists helps, following artists on streaming services is even more powerful because it helps them stand out among the thousands of other artists using these platforms. Not only are you helping these artists gain valuable exposure, but you’ll also be the first to know when their new music comes out. It’s a win-win. 

Sharing artists’ music is another powerful way to promote them and help guide more people to their platforms. Whether it’s texting a friend about a song you really like or posting about an artist on social media, directing your followers to artists’ accounts is a great way to show them some love and get them more exposure. 

Streaming on Spotify or Apple Music gives artists only a meager payout, so be sure to check if their music is available on other platforms where they can make more money off of your engagement. Websites like Bandcamp offer greater payout rates for artists by going the extra mile and reducing their cut into an artist’s earnings. Some artists also offer their music directly from their website, and buying or streaming music from them directly means fewer middlemen to take a cut of what you’re paying for. 

Donate!

If you’re in a position to give, consider donating directly to artists or organizations that support struggling musicians. You can send money to your favorite artists directly by using Venmo or Cash App, which will go directly to their bank accounts. There are also dozens of nonprofits that assist artists in need, including MusiCares, Sweet Relief and the American Association of Independent Music.

Music Beat Editor Kaitlyn Fox can be reached at kjfox@umich.edu.


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