FAQ: How to support artists during the coronavirus pandemic?


The coronavirus has now officially raised alarm in Finland, as many events and concerts with over 500 attendants are being canceled around the country, halting some of your favorite acts from performing live. Both the artists and the cultural industry, in general, are suffering an economic blow due to the direct impact on their income. With an evergrowing list of canceled shows for the upcoming months, a lot of you have been concerned about how to support your favorite artists during times of crisis.

Even though the coronavirus hits all industries, musicians are especially in a weak position as the industry model has changed in the last decade from selling albums towards touring. In the past, bands would get their income from selling physical copies of their records. Due to online streaming services that have gained more and more popularity in recent years, consuming music has changed. Money comes from playing concerts, and in-person merch sales.

Touring seems to be a viable solution for musicians to make money, but in reality, they cost a lot of money, meaning that the touring model is not as profitable as it seems for every band. Touring means having costs of transport, accommodation, rental gear, crew, working visas, production, merchandise production, waivers, bureaucracy, etc. In general, not every tour can guarantee an income, but they surely have a lot of investments. Examples are the melodic death metal act INSOMNIUM, who recently have set up a GoFundMe campaign to ensure the future of the band, as well as the symphonic metal act VISIONS OF ATLANTIS.

Booking agencies and venues are doing their best to postpone all the dates, which is by itself a complicated situation and requires a lot of extra teamwork. If the show can’t be postponed, cancelations are in order. Even though it’s a worldwide issue, and affects many lives, the cultural industry, which already year by year gets less and less funding by the government is suffering in many forms: artists, booking agencies, promoters, festivals, sound engineers, concert photographers, media, etc. all will feel effects of the crisis.

What can you do to help artists?

The main question remains, what can you do to help artists in these difficult times?

  • When a concert gets canceled do not ask for a refund, or when you ask for a refund donate the money to the band;
  • When a concert gets postponed hold on to the ticket, and save the date;
  • When a band sets up a crowdfunding campaign to raise money to help them get out of any financial loss they may have suffered from by being on an abruptly canceled tour, donate some money;
  • Instead of streaming your favorite artists’ music, buy physical albums, buy their merchandising, if the band has a profile on Bandcamp, buy merch and the album straight from there, as the bulk of the income made goes straight to the artist;
  • If one of your favorite artists is also teaching music, and you want to learn/are learning, support them by asking for a (Skype) lesson, and share the information with friends who might be interested as well;
  • If a band decides to continue with the show but without a crowd, support the band, tune in, and do not ask for a refund of your ticket;
  • If your favorite band has a new album coming up, pre-order! Buying it in advance means that they will get some money in advance, but it also shows retailers that there is growing interest in the release, and will ultimately only benefit the band;
  • Follow the band’s social media to stay up-to-date with their current situation. If they need your help, they will let you know in one way or the other;
  • Sharing is caring: Make sure that whenever the band needs your help, you help them spread the message. Share their social media posts, tell your friends, etc.

That’s Not Metal,” a podcast, has created a Google Spreadsheet, which shows a long list of artists who were forced to either postpone their tour or cancel it altogether due to the coronavirus pandemic. While the list continues to grow, the great thing about the people behind the Spreadsheet is that they also included links to each artist’s respective merchandising store.

While shows are still allowed under 500 people, at the moment, there are still some precautions you should take when you go see any of the bands:

  • Make sure you don’t attend the show when you feel under the weather, whether it’s just a normal cold or, just an iffy feeling, we strongly believe in the “Stay The Fuck Home”-movement, which is the only way to stop the disease from spreading as fast as it is now, risking people not receiving the care they need due to global medical systems that are overloaded;
  • Wash your hands regularly;
  • Try to touch your face as little as possible, including your mouth, nose, and eyes;
  • Practice good cough and sneeze etiquette;
  • When you want to talk with the artists, don’t ask for a selfie, hug, or don’t give them a hand.

Smaller festivals are also at risk, because they usually are totally independent, and have already made a lot of investments for the coming edition. You can also help them by inquiring whether they have some merchandising left from the previous edition, or whether they have merch from the upcoming edition already (and buy it), holding on to your ticket, and tell your friends they should buy a ticket for the postponed event, support any Patreon or crowdfunding action you can see! Steelfest, for example, has support packages for sale, and you might see other smaller festivals do the same.

Rock and metal, in general, are genres known for their strong sense of community, and support, and by taking these tips into account you can take part in ensuring the future of heavy music!

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