Words by Kavina.
As the punches to our music industry just keep on rolling in the midst of Sydney and Brisbanes latest lockdowns, those facing the ultimate test of resilience right now are our artists and venues. Fans were busy slinging festival boots over their shoulders and moonwalking out the door when old mate DELTA decided to make a play for it’s viral status, something that’s only cool when it happens to an emerging artist.
As it’s become apparent that sold out stadiums may not be on trend or socially responsible in these foreseeable mad COVID times, we’ve become more stiff-backed in our resolve to find other ways to engage with music, because we need it… NOW!
Just as Bob Marley or someone of the same level of charismatic coolness once said “without music, life would have no meaning.” Likewise, without the fans, musicians wouldn’t stand a chance, because albums are only made if there are those who will listen… and pay money for them.
Since there isn’t an Ubereats for live music (there isn’t right?), here’s multiple ways that you can support your favourite musicians, online, right now, even as you read this article. Because if you aren’t doing any of these things, then are you even a COVID-warrior music fan?
Where do artists go when they can’t go on tour or perform for you?
Why I'm glad you asked, and the answer is, they don’t go anywhere, so it’s up to you to meet them halfway.
Last year’s I Lost My Gig survey reported that musicians lost a steep $325 million in income from the devastating consequences of the Coronavirus shutting down our live music industry, whereas national households made a giant saving from staying in this past year.
In what has been described as the most financially and mentally challenging times for musicians, it has been proven that artists are some of the most passionate and determined individuals you’ll meet, which is why we can’t get enough of their music and charisma. If they couldn't go on tour they went back to the studio to work on their craft, and when they couldn’t sing live to their audiences they found other ways to stay connected - shout out to Twitch streams for starting a livestream revolution/solution!
While their entire livelihood has halted for the inevitable future, they’ve kept the damn dream alive in a way that is only possible when you aren’t in it for the money!! As a result, we’ve stayed sane and entertained, through a crucial time in history.
COVID seems like old news but the industry still needs support
Economically we may have started to recover from the losses that hit our retail sector last year, but venues and gatherings are still copping the brunt of our well placed restrictions with limited capacity, dancing bands and gigs that have either been postponed or straight up cancelled. Just as Dark Mofo was able to return from the grave of it’s cancelled Solstice last year, Sydney’s major 2 week lockdown has us again wondering if there’s even longer ones to come.
With one foot in the door, and one hand to our COVID apps, venues have been battling to keep up with regularly changing bans such as the newly imposed bans back on Brisbane’s doorstep as promoters scale back upcoming parties.
Ps: When a gig is postponed, hold on to your tickets. This is the best way to support a venue who needs the funds right now so they can bring you shows later.
Since we can’t go outside, the Spotify crew assemble!
Everybody knows that record sales lead to record deals, or in this case, record monthly listeners. Spotify success is more about the numbers game than it is the big paycheck, which we all know goes straight to the platform… do not get me started... There are major upsides to putting your favourite local artists on heavy daily rotation though. More monthly listeners means successful additions to playlists while racking up your invaluable support as Spotify followers will allow musicians a space to directly market their music to you by unlocking tools which deliver new beats to your weekly release radar.
There’s a reason that online listening platforms like Spotify are so important to an artist's career. While the end goal is to have you purchase their music, the world can’t see how many times you’ve trashed your favourite record, or the amount of tape that’s holding together the tatters of the album cover - that’s a cute Instagram photo tribute idea though, let's cycle back to that. Your listener stats are an invaluable resource to record labels scouting out upcoming talent, and if they can’t see the packed to the rafters event’s being rocked by your favourite artists, the packed-full of listeners vibe from Spotify should do the trick.
But also, once you’ve added your favourite artists to your daily listening rotation, head off to the online shops to purchase their music!
Be cool, buy music
Buying music is obviously very polite and essentially a necessity. When World War Z happens and there’s no internet, we’ll be wearing our records strapped to our bodies for safekeeping. But whether it’s Beatport, Bandcamp, or Indie record stores, it really doesn’t matter where you buy it from (unless it’s a major retailer, because always buy local and from the source), as long as you’re showing your favourite artists how much you love them by investing back into their work. Besides record Spotify listeners equaling record deals, you need to sell an album in order to make an album, and the cycle continues.
Buy all of the merch
Artist merchandise is the number one add-on best friend to an artist. Some Warren Buffettesque advice that applies perfectly in the instance of a musician's career is to never rely on a single income source. This works so well for both artists and fans because once a show is over, merch acts as a memento of our experience and becomes a visual representation for the music we love… and right now there are no shows, sooooo... Merch sales can account for upto 100% of the music income an artist makes in these COVID times according to Tim Everist from SoundMerch. Look to #AusmusicTShirtDay and you’ll find no further added explanation needed on the solidarity of buying and rocking artist merch.
I could go on about the brilliance of collaboration but since both Paris and New York Fashion Week’s have perfectly coincided with this article, I will leave you with the picture of Travis Scott’s Cactus Jack For Dior Summer first full season artist collaboration between a major fashion house and a music artist. Next we can check Virgil Abloh’s latest opening of the Off White Paris flagship store, serving as what he calls an incubator for local talent as well as a cultural connector for the community. Considering his passions as a DJ, this brilliant merging of two worlds, highlighted by driving around Paris in an acid Green Van while blasting beats to announce the opening of the store, was an iconic use of music immersed with the visual of fashion. The man couldn’t put it better himself by explaining the concept as, “nothing is off limits.” - Seriously put that on a shirt. I’m here for it.
Back to you though,
Why not hit two birds with one stone and take the opportunity to collaborate with your local artists. Whether you run a brewery, retail store, kill it in graphic design, or are known around the bend for having a beautiful outdoor performance space. People love a good meshing of the minds. Think Snoop Dogg Cali Red from Dan Murphys.
Artist support funds
THERE.ARE.SO.MANY. Every state has a list of grants on their websites for funds such as the Artists Benevolent Fund, the National Support Act, or Adopt An Artist fund to support those in urgent need. The federal government has done it’s part by injecting a further $135 million into it’s live music economy, and you can help too by going straight to the source with artist GoFundMe pages or just scroll to see a cause you’d like to donate some of those savings earned from lost partying potential this year. If you can’t find information on an artist’s website and would really like to give to them specifically, it doesn’t hurt to slide into their DM’s to find out how you can help. You guys are so good.
Engage with your artists, or post on their behalf… because “you’re the voice, try and understand it.”
*For further instruction about how to be the voice, please refer to the timely lyrics from John Farnham’s most relevant to the situation song about not sitting silent on social media.
Can’t headbang front row at a too close for comfort/social distancing show at your local bar? No problem, just post a video of you headbangin in the kitchen to your TikTok account with trending hashtags like #boredinthehouse. Can’t throw roses on stage like on Almost Famous? No problem, just *rosemoji-bomb your favorite artists in the comments section of their posts.
The amount of artists to emerge from the fires of COVID because of the invaluable online support of their fans is a story that would bring hardened techno ravers to tears. Your engagement means supportive kind words to boost your artist, words and real reactions that show the love you have for their music and actual hilarious and slightly embarrassing footage of you jamming out and making their music a part of your everyday lives.
Join everything, from Youtube Channels, to Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, all of it. Share your Spotify listens to your socials, create challenges with the potential to go viral, or add music to your stories. The best thing about doing all of these things is that they all have the greatest potential to pay off in endorsements, record deals, and even hitting commercial radio charts! It’s a beautiful sight.
Just you wait legends
And for the ultimate in post-COVID gig goals, your favourite band could come out the other side as heroic as Six60 from New Zealand, who probably wouldn’t have ever had the chance to secure the largest gig in the world played during the pandemic yet alone the first gig to fill Eden Park Rugby Stadium to the same capacity as the All Blacks with about 50,000 participants! All thanks to the love you showed them when they couldn’t even get out the door! We out here, and we know you are too!!!!