Up and coming musicians need help amid COVID-19
As COVID-19, also known as the novel coronavirus, continues to be a problem throughout the world, forcing non-essential businesses and schools to close, many people, including musicians, have been hit hard. Practically every band has canceled their spring and summer tours, and festivals like Coachella, South by Southwest, Bonnaroo, and Glastonbury have canceled or postponed until next year, and the music data company Viberate said that over 300 festivals have already announced cancellations or postponements, via their tracking website SickFestivals. Due to these cancellations, musicians have been forced to quarantine themselves and halt work on their projects. The Round Table interviewed Stu McLamb from the band The Love Language about the effects that COVID-19 has had on his career and livelihood.
“My particular situation is probably…it’s different than most,” McLamb said. “I was living in Los Angeles for the past three years but my band is mainly based in South Carolina. I was moving back to South Carolina to record an album… I had a living situation lined up but the virus just affected all the things and potential work… all these plans fell through and even the record.”
Many smaller and independent artists and music venues fear that without touring and working on new music, they could be in deep financial trouble, and have asked fans to donate money via PayPal and Venmo or to buy/stream their music/merchandise (merch). However, on Friday, March 20, Bandcamp, a website that allows musicians to sell their music and merchandise announced that artists would collect all the revenue that they made that day, as normally Bandcamp would collect 15% of the revenue for digital purchases and 10% for merch. The company reported that “fans bought nearly 800,000, or $4.3 million worth of music and merch” later stating “that’s more than 15 times our normal Friday” according to Bandcamp.
McLamb, who had released an album under the name DRY SPELLS on Bandcamp, used the website’s feature that allows fans to name their own price and said that “people were very generous, [they] paid much more than what an album would cost.” He told the Round Table that “it was beautiful and very thoughtful for them.” McLamb also joked that he would buy stock in Bandcamp right now.
Independent music labels like Polyvinyl and Merge records are having sales and promotions to help their artists, with Megre having a 15% off sale while encouraging fans to buy LP’s and CDs and Polyvinyl having a pay-what-you-want sale on their Bandcamp site. Spotify has a COVID-19 Music Relief widget on its app that when clicked, will recommend verified organizations that are offering financial relief to those in the music community.
Many artists like Chris Martin from Coldplay, John Legend, and Ben Gibbard from Death Cab for Cutie have begun doing “live at home” or “stay at home” concerts on Instagram, Twitch and other live streaming platforms, using this platform to connect with their fans who are also quarantined.
“I feel like I’m more connected to some of the artists I follow on Instagram, social media then what I was before,” McLamb said of streaming. Although this is a scary time for everyone, McLamb is positive that the music industry will not only survive but thrive, saying “it’s going to take some creative thinking but… it could be a moment in time for musicians to thrive throughout this and they will have time to create.”
While I wrote an article previously published in the Round Table about how to support artists, I’ll just highlight the two important points. Stream them and buy their stuff! It will go a long way for them and, if you can and if the artist is asked, Venmoing them helps too! Also, check out the MusiCares’ COVID-19 Relief Fund!