The world has been shaken to its core by the spread of Coronavirus COVID-19. According to the New York Times, the virus has officially infected over 130,500 people (that number could be higher given the incubation period and lack of testing for everyone). As of Thursday afternoon, March 12, 2020 at least 4,908 people have died, including 1,736 in Mainland China. While it is important to keep in mind the bigger picture of safety and preserving life, we will take a look at ways to support the music business in the midst of a pandemic.
Much of the discussion has been about live events, with Ultra Music Festival, Coachella, Winter Music Conference and countless other events, tours and festivals already canceled or postponed, however the ripple effects will be felt beyond live music. Touring will likely be pretty much put on hold, especially after the United States banned travel from the EU for 30 days. Live music is the economic lifeblood for many artists, but there are other ways to support musicians now.
One possible way would be to support local small clubs, but I will not recommend going to or not going to music events indoors or outdoors. Listen to your local health officials and decide based on their recommendations and how you are feeling right now. It should obviously be said that if you are not feeling well, do not go. Supporting your local scene and promoters, will be important, but do it safely.
1. Buy Premium Streaming Subscription:
Many probably do, but the per-stream payouts are much higher for streaming subscriptions than they are for ad-supported streams. It only costs between $10 and $20 per month, depending on the plan and if you want to go hi-fidelity. While your five streams on a song aren’t going to replace the fee from a Miami Music Week gig, if there are thousands just like you, it could be the difference between paying for electricity or not. For bands and artists with larger songwriting teams, this will help the studio musicians, songwriters, engineers and producers get a little extra cash as well.
2. Buy Music:
Buy some music. Not just one song on iTunes, but go to an artist’s Bandcamp and pick up an album. Pre-order the record you can’t wait for and help out the artists, labels, publishers and distributors. If you have the means, buy a physical copy of an album on CD, vinyl or cassette. This will be a direct and meaningful way to boost the income of those in the business who are set to lose a lot of it this year.
3. Buy Merch:
Merchandise may be the best way to support the music business. You can buy merch from artists, promoters and venues. Do this quickly as the global supply chain is being disrupted and there may be waits to refill orders. Merchandise goes directly to those who sell it with very little taken by a vendor or digital seller.
4. Support Music Media:
Yes this sounds self-serving, but the pain will be felt in music media. A lot of advertisers are events and festivals, which will be forced to cut back on expenses like marketing. And if big events are canceled for the foreseeable future, then there won’t be anything to advertise. So click on that article, instead of just reading the headline on Facebook. If you can subscribe, do so, even if only for a few months.
5. Support Indie Artists & Promoters:
This may be the most important note for who you direct your resources towards. Obviously it is entirely up to you, but indie artists and event companies will be hurt the most. They don’t have business daddies Live Nation or Goldenvoice to brunt the financial pain. Indie promoters could get wiped out if they can’t recoup money on a canceled event because the insurance company refuses to pay out and too much money has already been invested. Indie artists are those who are living month-to-month, while artists than those with big deals at majors may have a better financial lifeline. Buying their music and merch will go a longer way to keeping them in the business.
6. Support Independent Record Shops & Book Stores:
Again, the independent part is important. Larger companies can likely withstand this, but smaller record shops need consistent sales to stay open and all of their staff on payroll. If you are willing to go out, take precautions. If you know what you want, call ahead and order for pickup. If you do flip through records, wear gloves and wash your hands before touching your face and leaving. Wash your hands before touching anything inside as well.
Bookstores are vital to the music business with biographies and books that help explain the business, tell fascinating stories and dive deeper into the history of music. Go out and buy a music biography or history of music. Support the local bookstore and be cautious in what you touch. Wash you hands.
And if you are feeling stressed out by all of the news, listen back to that album or artist that makes you happy. Listen back to sets that were some of the best you ever experienced. Listen to ambient music to calm your nerves and be sucked into its warmth.
Stay safe, check in on your friends and family and wash your hands. Music can be therapeutic in times like these, but we all have to work together to keep the ecosystem alive.