A little over 2 months ago, we were still making plans to attend shows and album release parties, adding tour dates into our calendar, and making plans with friends and family after work and weekends to support our favorite artists. But all that seems a little far away as the last few weeks, and specifically last few days, have been heavily inundated with the saddening news about the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and the impact the virus is having on society — cities and towns across the globe both large and small, industries, the economy, and communities — severely impacting several pillars of everyday life for many, including music and entertainment.
While all of this is chilling and hard to wrap our heads around, we have the power of music to connect through lyrics, chords, and powerful melodies — even while we have to listen and watch, likely alone, and definitely indoors. And thankfully, we also have technology to support our creative efforts. Technology over the years has been used to empower artists, giving them the tools, resources, and support to bring their music to fans worldwide. Now is most certainly the time to embrace the power of technology to strengthen, unite, and bring music communities together.
Where can I find the most up to date, accurate information about COVID-19?
Simply put: the World Health Organization. Consistently updated, this is the most up to date, accurate place with information to keep you, your loved ones, and neighbors safe and healthy. It’s overwhelming reading all the news out there and different opinions. Stick with the World Health Organization to get what you need straight from the source.
I’m an artist, what live streaming resources are available to me to perform for fans?
Music Business and industry writer and expert Cherie Hu put together a free, 21-page comprehensive document of live streaming and other virtual resources for artists. Prior to the last few months, live streaming was added value for those who couldn’t attend concerts or other live events. It was used to further promote shows, leverage the world wide web to bring in fans across the globe. But, as Cherie says, it went from being a “niche” or “nice to have” format to “being imperative for ensuring global accessibility and reach amidst extreme conditions such as the COVID-19 outbreak.” As a means to connect the world through this difficult time as well as attempt to alleviate the devastation of cut tours and finances, live streaming of home concerts and more intimate shows or living room jams are already kicking off in full speed and will be something we’ll see artists utilizing a lot more of in the coming weeks.
I’m a fan, how can I help independent artists?
Rev. Moose, founder of the Marauder agency and producer of Independent Venue Week in the United States, says that in an effort to help artists, many people are focusing on sourcing alternative revenue streams. Some of these include labels donating proceeds to artists, livestreams offering a way for fans to connect with artists and buy tickets for virtual shows, or donating to a fundraiser.
He also says it’s important that people take note of their own personal ability to create change. “We can be responsible not only for where our own money is being spent as a consumer, but also the decisions that we guide others to make…It’s up to us as a community to create an economic support system for all levels of the creative industry that feed into our business.
With that in mind, here are some ideas to help your favorite artists right now:
Be a music tastemaker. Share the artists you’re listening to with your colleagues by creating a playlist. Share this playlist with your company in Slack channels and in Google Hangouts. Share this playlist with your family and friends. Add it to your email signature. Share songs on Instagram or DM on Twitter. This is a very scary time and sharing this music may make things feel a little better and the world a little bit closer. Here’s a graphic you can use and share directly to your Instagram. Fill it out and share with friends!
Follow these artists on social media if you don’t already, including Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. You’ll feel more connected this way, especially now. Tune in to a livestream. Artists now are finding alternative means of sharing their live music and performances with fans from their home. Follow the artists you care about on socials and tune in to their performances. The more viewers, the more streams.
Stream and buy music. Whether you’re working from home or taking an at-home yoga break, stream your favorite artists’ music. Artists rely heavily on touring and while this won’t equate to how much artists can make while on the road, it can and will help. Keep listening to music to feel connected. Want to support record stores? Here are some ways you can.
Buy merch. You’ve been eyeing it, so now’s the time. Buy that favorite hoodie or beanie you’ve seen artists promote on their socials, wear it, share on socials and tag the artist.
Drop a Venmo and add your favorite emoji. Music will always bring people together. To help artists directly, follow them on Instagram and Twitter and see the messages they’re sharing on their own accounts. Did they share their Venmo, Paypal, Buy Me A Coffee account? Donate to support their creative work.
What organizations and initiatives are out there supporting creators and those who work at impacted creative institutes?
Charities like the Recording Academy’s MusiCares already have established programs to support various financial, medical, and personal emergency needs of artists daily and they’re hitting the gas pedals to accelerate during the COVID-19 crisis, committing $2 Million to the COVID-19 Relief Fund.
If you’re in a position to help financially, consider donating to MusiCares to continue to allow these institutes to support artists’ needs across various pillars of their life, while now also dealing with the major economic repercussions of COVID-19.
In addition to providing financial and educational support, MusiCares is an ally for all artists who are on their sobriety journey and they recognize that addiction can thrive in isolation. They encourage musicians to use the power of social media and technology to connect with their family, friends, and colleagues. It’s important to stay connected, even while social distancing. Take these action items into consideration: practice meditation, exercise, and call people who also need support to tell their story and share yours. Humans need to feel connected to other humans.
Interested in supporting MusiCares socially? Share your support with custom overlays and templates you can use for social media and add a donation sticker to your stories to encourage others to donate.
For those based in the UK, Help Musicians, similar to MusiCares, is a yearly ongoing platform for supporting artists across various aspects of life, including during times of need and opportunity. Check in here on various updates regarding COVID-19 and specifically how Help Musicians can help you if you’re based in the UK.
Spotify has created a Spotify COVID-19 Music Relief project that directs peoples towards “verified organizations that offer financial relief to those in the music community most in need around the world.” Organizations that Spotify’s COVID-19 Music Relief project works with include: Help Musicians, MusiCares, and PRS Foundation, and more. Spotify will match every dollar up to ten million dollars.
How can the music community support independent venues?
During a time of social distancing, there’s been thankfully a lot of emotional support already in the music industry and emphasis on what needs to happen now in order to preserve the past, present, and future of the artists, venues, businesses, and individuals that make the music industry what it is. As Independent Venue Week states, “Whether it’s pushing attention towards crowdfunding, putting catalog on sale, or just trying to steer the conversation, it feels like the industry as a whole sees how potentially dire this situation will be.”
So how can the music community support independent venues during a time when all venues are supposed to close their doors until further notice?
“We [at Independent Venue Week] are doing our best to provide a platform for peer support, so those on the front lines don’t feel like they’re completely alone. Past emotional support, we’re working on implementing direct information sharing between venues in a manner that was previously only available to the largest competitors in the marketplace. Due to today’s climate we’re moving faster than we might have otherwise envisioned, but the ideas are being put into motion.”
Obviously, the most immediate way that music organizations can help is to “[create] financial solvency not just for music venues but for those whose livelihood depends upon those businesses,” Moose, from Independent Venue Week, adds.
How can I take care of my mental health when I feel like everything is out of my control?
Things definitely feel out of control right now. Please know that even though social distancing seems to be the new [temporary] norm, there are people and resources out there, online, at your fingertips, to help. The Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention talks about how to care for your mental health in times of uncertainty, including separating what’s in your control vs. what isn’t, challenging yourself to stay present, and the importance of staying connected.
Mindfulness and meditation app Headspace just announced new efforts to manage rising stress and anxiety levels. Co-founder Rich Pierson stated, “To help people around the world deal with these unprecedented levels of stress, we are working hard to expand access to our meditation content to help folks manage anxious thoughts, build mental resilience and navigate through this uncertainty.”
A new “Weathering the storm” collection in-app feature on Headspace includes a variety of free meditation, sleep, and other alternatives to support during this time. Go to the Explore Tab in Headspace and start today.
Similarly, the Calm App says, “Take a deep breath. Let’s meet this moment together.” They’re sharing some tools they’re using to take care of their minds and stay grounded. From free soothing and sleep meditation to also forms of practices to find ease, take a look through their library to prioritize self-care.
Talkspace is offering subscribers a COVID-19 Anxiety Management Program. Now for a limited time, they’re offering a special for $100 off subscriptions.
Backline connects music industry professionals to mental health wellness resources. As an ongoing support system for those seeking additional support during COVID-19, Backline has been hosting an online support group and community meditation. Follow them on Instagram for updates on the next session.
Tour Support looks to support professionals across the live music industry providing mental health tools and training to those specifically in touring. They formed a partnership with Better Help to purchase counseling
Lastly, The Orchard’s Mind, Body, & Soul YouTube Channel offers inspirational messages, mindfulness practices, meditations, breathing exercises, Reiki, Yoga, Tai Chi, relaxing music and more.