How to Help MusiciansApril 2, 2020
“You probably heard the news: record claims for unemployment benefits, indeed, five times the previous record from 1982. Our economy has never been shut down quite so completely and suddenly. Those most affected are service workers: cooks, waiters, retail clerks—and the people who make the music we love.
Every performance venue in New York City is shut down—and also in the rest of the state. There are no live gigs here for musicians–and that’s true many other places in the US and across the world.
Studios, too, are shut down: “I really don’t know of any [recording sessions] that are going on,” recording engineer Jim Anderson, who records Patricia Barber and many others, wrote to me in an email. (The shutdown also effects those behind the scenes and on the other side of the microphone: producers, engineers, roadies, etc. For accounts of their struggles, see this article at Sonic Scoop. Also see this livestream Q&A.)
So what can you do?
- If you’ve got tickets to a canceled event, donate the money back. You’ll be helping a venue that hosts live music, and some are using these funds to pay musicians to do livestream concerts, often from their homes. (See our list of coronavirus-related livestream events.)
- If there’s a particular musician you especially care about—especially those who are independent or just starting out—track them down on Facebook; they may have a PayPal or Venmo account you can deposit funds directly into.
- Buy music. Amazon has stopped delivering CDs for the moment (and some musicians are suffering for it), but Discogs is open for business, and some brick-and-mortar stores are fulfilling Internet orders.
- Downloads, help, too—but remember, it’s not the best-selling artists who need your help. So check out sites like Bandcamp where excellent but less well-known musicians share their music. Listen before you buy and discover some new music. Often you can buy downloads or physical copies, CD or LP. Bandcamp lets you give more than the minimum, so give generously.
- Many relief funds have been set up, some of them focused on specific genres. There’s a list below, which we intend to expand as we discover new resources. Find one—if it’s not on our list, use Google—that supports musicians in the genre you prefer and—again—give generously.
- For the next two weeks, Qobuz, the streaming service (which also offers downloads) will be waiving its revenue share, passing 100% of revenue on to the rights-holders (including musicians).
- The Recording Academy’s MusiCares
- Jazz Foundation of America emergency-relief fund
- Americana Highways livestreaming concert series, Live Music from the Quarantine; The organization is raising money for musician relief via Paypal.
- EqualSound Corona Relief Fund
- The Sweet Relief COVID-19 Relief Fund
- New music solidarity fund
- Freelance Coop Emergency Fund
- Nuci’s Space Garrie Vereen Memorial Emergency Relief Fund, which is focused on the Athens, Georgia music scene.
- Boston Singers Resource offers $500 grants for Boston-area singers who have had engagements canceled.
- The Opera San Jose Artists and Musicians Relief fund is specifically for those work for Opera San Jose.
- Finally—for now—Billboard Magazine has a much more comprehensive list of resources for musician relief.