March 18, 2020

What the music biz is doing to help artists during the COVID-19 crisis

Former Assistant Editor
What the music biz is doing to help artists during the COVID-19 crisis
L-R: Charlotte Abroms, Jono Steer, Angie McMahon

The Aussie music industry is suffering through the coronavirus pandemic.

Music is far from the only affected sector as the outbreak continues to wreak havoc on workers in most professions all around the country. And the world.

It’s challenging to stay strong in trying times, but as the live music industry goes into ‘pause’ mode, many are coming up with creative solutions to support artists and the industry at large.

Support Act – ‘Australian Music Needs Your Help’ 

Music industry health and wellbeing service Support Act has announced its ‘Australian Music Needs Your Help’ fundraiser.

Artist manager Charlotte Abroms, sound engineer Jono Steer and musician Angie McMahon have teamed up with Support Act to set up a Facebook fundraiser, as events festivals, tours, gigs and conferences are cancelled or postponed.

Announcing the fundraiser, attention was drawn to the types of workers who will lose income; musicians, to sound engineers, tour managers, production companies, artist managers, crew, security, booking agents, venues, door staff, bar staff, publicists, caterers, merch sellers and even music publications and community radio stations.

Angie McMahon with Band & Crew / by Lily Watkin

“As a manager, I’ve had to inform our whole team of multiple cancellations throughout the year,” said Abroms.

“It’s difficult when there’s no timeline as to if or when their shows will be rescheduled. Angie and I talked about session musicians and crew and the people who live show to show. I’m speaking to people who are struggling to pay their rent, who are fearful for their futures, who have children to look after.

“We discussed the fact Support Act’s resources will be stretched during this time so we felt the need to do something for those facing temporary unemployment.

“It’s the collective mental wellbeing of our industry we are trying to protect. It’s an issue close to our hearts. Support Act are a trusted charity to help our fellow colleagues and friends who are most vulnerable.”

Money raised will will be distributed among music industry workers, with over $13K raised so far.

Donations can be made here.

Bandcamp Waives Revenue Share This Friday

Purchasing the music of your favourite artists is a really important way to support the industry in general, and especially now during this unprecedented time.

Bandcamp has announced that it will be waiving its revenue share on sales this Friday, which means the artist can earn 10-15% more per purchase.

From this Friday at midnight (Pacific Time), the full price of a purchase on the platform will go directly to the artist.

Bandcamp co-founder & CEO Ethan Diamond says that the plan was put into place after seeing many fans already going above and beyond to support artists on the service.

“The Covid-19 pandemic is in full force, and artists have been hit especially hard as tours and shows are being cancelled for the foreseeable future,” he said.

“With such a major revenue stream drying up almost entirely, finding ways to continue supporting artists in the coming months is now an urgent priority for anyone who cares about music and the artists who create it.”

Diamond hopes his rallying call will make a tangible difference to artists on Bandcamp.

“For many artists, a single day of boosted sales can mean the difference between being able to pay rent or not. Still, we consider this just a starting point.

“It may sound simple, but the best way to help artists is with your direct financial support, and we hope you’ll join us on Friday and through the coming months as we work to support artists in this challenging time.”

Singer-songwriter Alex Lahey recently praised Bandcamp’s payment model in a letter to Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews, in which she called for the government to give urgent support to the industry.

“Places like Bandcamp are really great at getting an immediate deposit of money across to artists directly with low overheads,” she said.

Bandcamp has also shared more ideas for how to support the artists they love, and how artists can give fans new, creative ways to support them.

Nic Kelly’s Isolation Hour + Live Streaming Performances

With the live streaming of concerts fairly mainstream these days, artists and other industry professionals are organising live streaming of events and more.

Overnight, artist and label manager Nic Kelly brought together artists around the world for an Instagram Live show called ‘Isolation Hour’.

He was joined by Aussie acts Kota Banks, Cry Club, Darling Brando, Northeast Party House, George Alice, Maddy Jane, GENES & Tamara And The Dreams, as well as NAVVY & Robinson from NZ and Ieuan who dialled in from London.

Kelly spoke with TMN after the fact.

“With the rapidity at which the situation and the conversation are moving at the moment, I feel quite barriered in my ability to help the music sector – I have zero money & all my freelance work is cancelled, and it feels like pulling together a livestream concert or festival isn’t the right timing – so I thought about the one skill I have, interviewing, and pulled together in the space of 10 hours a light and fun fast-paced chat show, giving fans an opportunity to connect with what this situation means for each artist, but also the positive things going on in their careers right now.

Lucy Baker from Sony reached out and was instrumental in pulling together the gang, whilst most other artists reached out of their own accord, before I even had a name for it.

Kelly says he’ll air another edition next Tuesday at 7pm, giving artists who want to let off some steam connect with fans and find new ones.

“It’s imperative we all use our creativity and empathy to connect with each other at the moment in any sensible way we can,” he says.

View this post on Instagram

This morning I woke up and felt helpless about the current situation in the music industry & the world at large so I wanted a simple way to connect isolating artists, with isolating fans, via isolating moi 🙅🏼🙅🏼🙅🏼 Tonight 7pm SYD time I'm doing a jam-packed interview show on Instagram LIVE starring 11 of my favourite artists across Aus, NZ & the UK! Feels like the way to use my abilities to make something positive for people who love music. Live on Nic Kelly's Isolation Hour 👯👯 @thisisnavvy / @itsgenesmusic / @georgealicemusic / @ieuanofficial / @darlingbrando / @kotabanksmusic / @cryclubmusic / @robinsonxmusic / @northeastpartyhouse / @madddy_jane / @tamaraandthedreams! Thankyou to all the artists & teams who reached out – I can’t wait. wait. Tune in Here! from 7pm SYD / 8am LDN.

A post shared by NIC KELLY (@nickelly.mp3) on

Meanwhile, Death Cab For Cutie’s Ben Gibbard has announced he’ll live stream a show every day from his home studio for the next few weeks.

“I know you are all freaked out right now,” he said. “I am, too. And while I’m proud that we’re all doing the necessary things at the moment to help flatten the curve, I know it has left us incredibly isolated.”

Diplo is another high profile artist live streaming sets from his home, posting sets on Saturday and Sunday evening (US time) last weekend.

“While we’re all in self-imposed quarantine and I’m grounded from playing shows I am going to get creative and make up random sets and shows live from my house,” he said.

As triple j points out, a stack of Aussie artists with music on triple j Unearthed are covering each other’s music, to promote each other during this crisis, using the hashtag #COVERED19.