It’s no secret that times are tough for musicians at the moment. Unless you’ve been self-isolating from the news, you must be aware that COVID-19 (the Corona Virus) has been spreading across the world. Industries are suffering. Jobs are being lost. The music industry is not immune.
The sensible defences of limiting gatherings and encouraging people to stay at home as much as possible has led to thousands of live music, sporting and other cultural events being postponed or cancelled across the globe.
Advice from the CDC is that groups of 50+ should be avoided when possible. Not everywhere is implamenting these messures, so some shows may still be happening.
Hearby’s show information might be inaccurate at present as the situation continues to change and shows are cancelled at short notice. Please call the venues (you can get their contact info right here in the app) and find out what the situation is before you head out.
South By South West has been cancelled. Coachella has been pushed back. Major tours are being cancelled left and right. Everyone is feeling the effects of this from major stadium-fillers to singer-songwriters playing to tiny audiences in tiny bars to buskers playing in the streets.
The big players will be fine- their income streams are diversified and while they’ll take a hit from cancelled shows; they’ve got the reserves and fan-bases to cope. The smaller players must be feeling much less certain.
When the smaller guys feel less sure of their income the scenes that we love become less secure. The life of a gigging musician can be pretty hand-to-mouth at the best of times but, add in the mass cancellation of shows and it becomes unsustainable. If the money isn’t coming in, then jobs are at risk. If there’s no one working, there’s no scene.
What can we do when government advice is to help flatten the curve by keeping away from larger events? What happens if your city goes into a full on lockdown?
We love our scenes, but, let’s face it: we love the vulnerable people in our lives more. We don’t want to risk their health for the sake of a night out, no matter how good. With a disease as infectious as COVID-19 it seems that our scenes will just have to be sacrificed for the greater good- right?
Your scene needs you, now more than ever.
There are things we can do while we wait for this to peak and pass. There are some very simple things which we can do to ensure that we’re still putting money into the pockets of the people who’ve given us so much pleasure over the years. Things are still going to be tight for a lot of people, but we can do a little bit to help here and there.
Firstly, don’t stop the music. Buy CD’s from your favourite local band’s websites. Share their stuff on social media. Stream it constantly. Check out their Bandcamp and Spotify content. Keep it playing. Not only does this supply an income stream (albeit a small one) for the musicians, it’s a hell of a morale builder for both you and them. Let them know that as soon as this passes you’ll be there, down at the front singing along. Let them know that there will be better times.
Loads of artists have set up Patreon accounts and other similar efforts to help keep themselves afloat. Conisder joining a couple- they get a bit of a cash injection and you get some great content to keep you going until we can all head back to our usual venues.
Next, let venues know that you really want them to re-schedule shows as soon as possible. Tell them what you were looking forward to and demand that you get it when it’s safe. Get at them on social media. This will pass and we, both fans and musicians, need things to look forward to while the news continues to be almost unrelentingly grim.
If you can’t wait, we’re starting to see live streamed events pop up across the country. Tune in and donate where you can.
Lastly, and probably most importantly: buy merch. Get that T-shirt. Get that tote. Get one for your partner too, and your Grandma and your dog. Wear them and let people see them. Not only is this a good source of income, it’s good advertising for better times. These can represent a major proportion of a band’s income. This is the time to buy, buy, buy. After all, you’re not spending that money on tickets and door charges right now, are you?
While we should all be following the advice about minimising social contact to protect ourselves and others, that doesn’t mean we have to sacrifice everything. These suggestions won’t totally negate the impact on musicians and venues but they can help minimize it as much as possible. If we want there to be a scene to re-emerge into from this period of isolation, we need to show our support now.
We’ll see you at the front (when this all blows over).
Andy the Editor