Culture News

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How to Help Musicians in the Age of the Coronavirus

South by Southwest is canceled and Coachella is postponed, but smaller artists don't have sick leave.

The World Health Organization recently declared that the coronavirus had spread enough that the outbreak can officially be considered a pandemic.

The impact of the virus isn't just physical; self-containment advisories mean that music festivals are taking the hit. Many events have been canceled in the wake of coronavirus.Austin's South by Southwest, the Australian Bushfire Relief Concert in Melbourne, and Ultra Music Festival are just a few that have been called off entirely, while Coachella and its sister country festival Stagecoach are being postponed until October. Though it's better to be safe than sorry as the coronavirus ravages the U.S., musicians—primarily independent touring artists—are taking a huge hit.

Because streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music pretty much pay artists in pennies, many smaller bands rely on live events for their income, from ticket sales and merch profits to exposure that'll hopefully reap benefits in the future. As "festival season" becomes virtually festival-less and artists also cancel tours due to coronavirus-related fears, a vicious cycle ensues: You have to make money to be able to tour, but you have to tour to be able to make money (not to mention artists often don't have health insurance or paid sick leave from their day jobs).

As fans, we can help! Here are a few small ways that can help out your favorite band during these trying times.

Buy Their Music

This is a no-brainer. According to CNBC, artists typically earn between $0.006 to $0.0084 per stream on Spotify. That means that one hundred streams of your favorite song earns that artist less than a dollar. Streaming has done wonders for artist discovery, but in order for those bands to actually make music, you have to go about it the old fashion way: actually buy their music. Googling the artist will likely bring up a link to their webstore, where you should be able to buy physical and digital copies of their albums.

Head to Bandcamp

Bandcamp is perhaps the most artist-friendly streaming site out there. Besides being a great platform to discover your new favorite band or underground artist, when you purchase something from Bandcamp, 80-85 percent of your money goes to the artist directly. It's a pretty sweet deal. If you're feeling extra generous, you can even pay above the minimum price, too.

Show Labels Love, Too

Indie labels do a ton of work, and they deserve your love, too. Check out what labels your favorite smaller artists are signed to—you can see on Spotify when you're looking at an album. They'll likely have merch, as well. Let them know you appreciate their hard work!

Donate, If You Can

This one extends beyond music artists, but many creators also have a Patreon to help fund themselves. If you feel compelled to donate, give a few bucks to an artist/performer who would normally be making live appearances right now.

Spread the Word

Are the people in your circle big music fans? Even if you don't have the cash to shell out on merch or digital copies of music right now (we get it), use social media to get a conversation going about how the coronavirus is negatively impacting musicians, especially right now. Their work is hard, so let's try to make it a little easier for them.

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