First came SXSW, then Coachella.
Now local events are being canceled left and right due to concerns of the spread of COVID-19—all of Night Moves’ upcoming tour dates were postponed yesterday, for instance, and at least one DIY venue has closed indefinitely.
While these precautions are for the greater good, they leave many musicians out of a paycheck. If the local show isn’t canceled there’s a good chance another tour date is—a tour date that money may have already been funneled into.
While we talk about tipping delivery drivers and offering paid leave to hourly employees, what can be done for the artists (many self-employed) whose income so seriously revolves around touring and performing?
“Bands who have practice spaces with decent internet, or maybe in their basements, etc, I would pay $$ for live streams during this time period of cancelled shows/tours, etc., guessing I’m not alone,” tweeted CP’s 2017 "best tweeter" Kyle Matteson yesterday.
A lot of people are thinking the same thing. With his MN United game performance canceled, Nur-D plans to livestream a show on Sunday; fans who watch can donate whatever they’d like. Another local rapper, OKNice, is also working on getting some friends together to livestream a practice or set in the near future.
“The last thing I’ve thought a lot about is hoping folks are understanding/empathetic of both artists who choose to keep playing shows/touring and those that don’t,” OKNice says. “Everybody’s just trying their best with such little info.”
There’s no doubt the entertainment, online or IRL, will be appreciated in the throes of quarantine. But until we have the set times, here are some other ideas.
The concept is simple: You like someone and you give them money, usually for something (a song, an early release, behind-the-scenes content) in return. On Nur-D’s site you have monthly donation options ranging from $2 (“too sweet”) to $700 (“paying my rent holy buckets”).
“We unfortunately don’t live in a society where my rent can be paid with good intentions,” the rapper said. “If you know that the concert might not come or the event might not be there, subscribing for even $10 a month can be beneficial.”
Any germs will die before the package gets to you. Though not quite as fun as a carefully curated merch table setup, most local bands have online storefronts where they sell their wares. As the pandemic continues, websites like missedtour.org are popping up to get all the goods in one place. Browse the many available T-shirt designs, then order six. May I interest you in the 4th Curtis “Shirley Temple” tee? If you’re staying at home you might as well be comfortable.
Many bands offer their albums via Bandcamp or other sites as digital downloads. The download will be high quality and the streaming unlimited. Finally download the iTunes update your computer has been begging for. Dig out your old iPod shuffle. Collect them all.
Emergency relief funds
Organizations like Springboard for the Arts have compiled resources for freelance artists in the midst of COVID-19. At the same time, Springboard has expanded their Personal Emergency Relief Fund guidelines to “include lost income due to the cancellation of a specific, scheduled gig or opportunity” related to the virus. Through the fund, artists are able to request up to $500 to compensate for scheduled and lost work. You can donate to the Emergency Relief Fund here.
Music fans can also donate to the Twin Cities Community Trust’s Entertainment Industry relief fund. The Trust is a 501(c)3 organization that will disperse its funds directly to members of the local music industry who have been affected by coronavirus-related closures. This includes not just musicians, but also club staff, tour managers, photographers, and more.
Yeah, we know a streaming-first music listening model has had some negative repercussions for artists. But if you don’t have the monetary means to show your support a listen can still help.
“For us, the go-to is always streaming our catalog,” said Student 1’s manager Alec Hoines. “Average listeners don't know how much repeated listens factor into the streaming services' algorithms, meaning an uptick in our streams can lead to a song being added to a playlist with dedicated listeners.”
Even a fraction of a cent helps.
As the situation continues, there’s a good chance some GoFundMe and Kickstarter sites will pop up from local artists. Donate to them. Share them. “Sometimes you feel a little guilty for asking for that with so many other people needing things. You have to balance your desire for being helpful with your desire to stay alive,” Nur-D says.
Hey, everyone needs a treat sometimes. Ask artists you know if you can buy them lunch or send them the ticket fee you were refunded. Retweet with your handles, friends.
Buy tickets to later events, hit up the bar if it’s open. Someone has to host all the shows we’re going to have rescheduled, so help those venues stay in business. As pure SHIFTER’s John Genz puts it, “We're gonna need them for the big post-pandemic orgy.”