The Australian music industry needs your help now more than ever. Just when it was looking like things were on their way back to normal after the devasting summer bushfire season, COVID-19 came and crashed the party.
Over the last month or so, we’ve seen festivals and gigs cancelled Australia-wide, with no real indication of when it will be safe for musicians to get back out on the road again and thus make a living. So, it’s time to get creative with your support in these turbulent times.
Here are some of the best ways to help your favourite artists get through the next few months.
Indulge In Some Online Musical Retail Therapy
Buy your beloved band’s records either directly from their websites, or from small, local record stores who are undoubtedly also feeling the heat right now. Buy a digital copy of a record or song on Bandcamp or iTunes, and fill your cart up with merch that you can wear to your next FaceTime party.
Sound of Silence has compiled a comprehensive list of Aussie artists with direct links to their webstores, including Bad Dreems, DMA’s, Haiku Hands, and literally hundreds more. Check it out here.
If you can, do this through a paid subscription service so more money lands in the artists’ accounts. Now, while you’re at home practising social distancing, is the time to stream more music than you ever thought possible. Washing the dishes? Listen to Julia Jacklin. Brushing your teeth? Listen to Methyl Ethel. Making your third cheese and tomato sandwich in an hour? You know what to do. Fill your home with sounds and songs that will lift your body, mind, and spirit, whilst also helping the musicians who made it stay afloat.
Looking for new music to check out? The Cat Empire (hello, hello) just launched their Lockdown Get Down initiative, urging people to create a playlist, name it "lockdowngetdown", and share it with your friends. Also, reposting stories and announcements from artists you follow on your own social feeds is another good way of showing you care whilst broadening their audience.
Wollongong-based singer and multi-instrumentalist Stevan says that it’s been hard to let go of some of the amazing opportunities he’s lost due to COVID-19, and that he’s unsure of how many musicians will get by. “I think that fans can help out by streaming and investing in artists as much as they can. I'm fairly fortunate to not have a lot of living expenses, but I know many musicians rely on shows for their livelihood. It's the time to band together and support each other as much as possible”, he says.
Donate If You Can
While we’re sure to see a host of fundraisers pop up over the coming weeks and months, right now, making a donation to Support Act is the best way to get funds into the hands of your favourite Australian artists. Support Act is a vital music industry charity that is providing crisis relief services to artists and music workers who have lost income due to coronavirus cancellations. You can donate to them directly here or via this Facebook fundraiser set up by Melbourne muso Angie McMahon, artist manager Charlotte Abroms and sound engineer Jono Steer.
As Sydney-based singer-songwriter, Ngaiire explains, “I think people need to realise how much of a beacon musicians and artists are going to be during this time and how much support we will need to continue doing what we do but also to just survive.”
Offer To Help
The best way to get a proper scope of just how many creatives have been affected is via I Lost My Gig Australia, which, at the time of writing, estimated that the total lost income from cancelled events stands at around $280M. The platform gives performers, production, crew, managers and booking agents the opportunity to tell their stories, whilst also aiming to pair artists with generous offers of help and support. If you have booking or paid work opportunities, or are able to offer paid work, services or supplies to an artist in need, click "I want to help" and fill out a form.
Don’t Ask For A Refund
Got tickets to a show that was cancelled? Skip the refund. Or if you do get reimbursed, consider donating some of the money to the artist or band you originally paid to see. If you had a ticket to show that has been postponed till later in the year, hold on to it so that you can ensure the funds stay in the industry during this unprecedented crisis. In the coming weeks, keep a lookout for online performances being streamed from the homes of your favourite artists, and opt to pay the same amount of money to watch them as you would buying a ticket to their gig.
Whilst it’s a stressful time in the music industry right now, together, musicians and us fans will get through this.
“We’re all nervous because everyone has lost all their work, but there’s also a real sense of resilience amongst us that I feel and which I’m super proud of”, says Ngaiire. “One of the things I love about what we do is the community that we’re so privileged to be a part of. Most industries don’t have that perk and once again we have the power to encourage the strengthening of community more than ever through our online channels, because we need each other right now.”
What The Artists Say
VETTA BORNE (MARIBELLE)
" It can be hard to stay creative forcefully. Being a producer and songwriter, it’s easy to feel like you’re not being productive if you’re not making use of the isolation. Most of us live off of our live shows, so with everything being cancelled/postponed, it’s scary to think how we’re going to afford to support ourselves, let alone afford to keep on releasing music."
"Buy our music on Apple Music. Stream us. Buy our merch. Make playlists of your favourite artists and send them to your friends. Buy tickets to the online concerts that are happening but
more than ever, be proactive... the cultural and spiritual capital we contribute to society is priceless and it needs to be preserved."
"There’s so much confusion at the moment seeing as no hardline action has been taken by our 'leaders'...we really need to be looking out for our underground musicians. There are a lot of session musos, music teachers, soundies, DJs and creatives living gig-to-gig right now, who aren’t gonna see that streaming or radio money until it's too late. As a community, we need to pull together and check in on our neighbours."
"The best thing we can do with the hand dealt is buckle down, stay safe and work on new music while we wait for the pandemic to blow over. In the meantime, if you wish to, you can support artists by buying their merch and streaming their music!”
"I'm not too sure how musicians will get by during this time. But I think that fans can help out by
streaming and investing in artists as much as they can."
To read more about the Sounds of Silence initiative, head over here.