We can’t stress enough the impact that the coronavirus pandemic is having on the income of musicians. The cancellation of tours and festivals, plus closures of live venues and schools has hit hard. Last week a Musicians’ Union survey said that UK musicians had lost an estimated £13.9m in earnings so far and that 90% of respondents said their income had already been affected.
So what can you do? If you’re saving on commuting into work and buying your lunch or coffee, please redirect that money to help the musicians that you love. Here’s our thoughts on some positive actions you can take:
1. Buy more artists’ music and their merchandise. Pre-order music that’s due out later in the year via artists’ websites or Bandcamp. On which note, our patron Reuben James released a new single last week My Line last week, whilst our Career Development Programme mentee Spencer Martin’s band Lunch Money Life has a new record dropping on 3rd April. You know what to do!
2. Donate to your favourite band via their website or GoFundMe appeal – and if you can’t see that option but really care about them and their music, then get in touch and ask them how you can help.
3. Use your practical skills to help musicians directly eg if you’re a digital comms expert, offer a musician advice on how to manage their online presence during this difficult time; if you’re a financial adviser or accountant, help an artist navigate and access what emergency funding is available to them.
4. Support artists on social media by sharing and helping them promote their work, plus join live streamed gigs and make a donation to show your appreciation. Our friends Kansas Smitty’s (co-founded by AWF workshop leader and band leader Giacomo Smith) are live-streaming daily at 5pm. KOKOROKO, led by Career Development Programme mentee Sheila Maurice-Grey, performed new record ‘Carry Me Home’ on BBC Introducing in place of their cancelled show with Jazz Re:freshed at SXSW – watch via their Twitter or Instagram @kokorokomusic
5. Support music and arts venues by becoming a member, and book tickets in advance for events and gigs later in the year.
And finally, if you or musician friends are struggling, here’s where you can look for help:
Our Career Development Programme mentees Women In Jazz have put together a brilliant document to make it easier for any artist to access information and support. It includes everything from mental health advice to potential funding and grants, helpful newsletters to guides on optimising use of digital platforms and webinars that can help artists improve skills outside of their instruments.
Help Musicians UK has created a page as a central source of support and advice for all musicians, which will be updated regularly as the situation develops. It’s a collaboration with the Incorporated Society of Musicians, The Ivors Academy, the Music Managers Forum, the Music Producers Guild,the Musicians’ Union, and UK Music, with support from many others in the music industry.
Arts Professional magazine has a dedicated space for news, information, resources, ideas and virtual events relating to the coronavirus pandemic, and how it might affect you working in the arts.
Finally, Music Mind Matters offers a support line and service that operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week for the whole UK music community while BAPAM offers free specialist health support to performing artists including musicians.
Here’s hoping this challenging time is over soon and let’s draw hope from some positives. Musicians can take time to focus on the creative projects they would otherwise not have been able to prioritise; innovation will shine through; and so many people will draw on their community, and more than ever take comfort and inspiration from music.