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Folks, lockdown is shite craic. I’m lucky enough to still be working from home, but some of us don’t have that luxury. Our local creatives are especially vulnerable. Some have already lost their job, others are at risk because of the ongoing situation regarding COVID-19. Musicians and artists are in a particularly bad way, having been left up shit creek without a paddle and no way of making any money. So, with that in mind, here are a few things you can do to give a dig out.
#1. Buy Music
Unless you’re Justin Bieber or Beyoncé, artists make fuck all money off of Spotify or Apple Music. I know—streaming is deadly because it’s cheap and easy. But what if, just this once, you bought that album you’ve streamed a shitload of times. If you can afford it, like. Do try and be smart about it though. Bandcamp did something pretty cool recently where, for one day, they didn’t take their usual 10-15% cut from any sales on their site so that artists could recoup all of that lovely cash.
#2. Buy Merch
An Post mailing, delivery, and post office networks are still operating as normal across Ireland. Indie bands make most of their bread and butter from merch sales online and at their gigs and, let’s face it, band tees are always cool. So yeah, this one’s a bit of a no brainer.
#3. Hold off on Looking for that Refund
There have been loads of cancellations and postponements, and yeah, that’s lousy. But again, if you can afford to, hold off on looking for a refund of the money you spent on that cancelled/postponed gig. Some indie bands, promoters and venues rely on those funds to survive.
#4. Take a Punt on a Virtual Gig Ticket
Loads of acts have been playing gigs from the comfort of their own home. While a lot of them have been an attempt of keeping up morale, you can expect to see them become monetised through the likes of Stageit. Their pay-what-you-can and mid-gig tip format are not a bad way to go at all and it’s a small price to pay to be entertained.
#5. Cancel Spotify, Subscribe on Patreon
Numerous artists who have been badly hit financially because of all the gig cancellations and album release postponements have asked fans to support them via Patreon. Patreon allows fans to financially sponsor a band or artist or content creator. During these tricky times, it’s a great idea to give your favourites a dig out. It wouldn’t cost much either—you can give what you’re not spending on lunch, your Leap Card, or coffee during lockdown.
#6. Support Crowdfunding
A lot of acts and organisations have started crowdfunding campaigns to ask for help. Niamh Ferry has started the Ireland Artist Emergency Relief Fund for Irish artists at a loss due to COVID-19, paying small grants of €500 on a first come, first-served basis. North of the border, Abbie Spallen’s Bread and Butter Fund Coronavirus NI Artists has been paying out sums of £200 to out of work NI freelancers.
#7. Shop Music Online & Indie
Music retailers are hurt by COVID-19 too, having been forced to shut and some having had to lay off staff. If, like me, you’ve ever lost an afternoon browsing at Tower, Freebird, or The Record Spot, do yourself and them a favour and get online to nab a thing or two.
#8. Get Involved
Now is the time to pick up and play. If you have a keyboard or a guitar or even a bongo or tin whistle that’s been gathering dust in your house, why not do just that. Dust it off and enrich your life with a new experience or creative endeavour. There’s no better way to keep yourself entertained and keep your mind active. Which ties nicely into my next point…
#9. Take Online Lessons
Many artists and musicians already supplement what little income they make from their toil and craft by teaching. Amidst COVID-19, workshops and lessons have been put on hold and a lot of creatives have taken the initiative to offer online music lessons via Skype or otherwise. What better way to support your favourites than to learn how they do it directly from them for a small fee?
#10. Reach Out
I’m all too aware that, for a lot of us, money is tight at this time. Stress is high, too. Artists and musicians lay their hearts and souls bare for us on a regular basis, for our entertainment and enjoyment, and often we resonate with their work or with them as people. Even during more normal times, artists can struggle financially, but during these times of financial decline, kindness, understanding and patience are musts for everybody. Tweet, DM, or email the artists you love and let them know what they mean to you. We need to express our appreciation for everybody now more than ever.