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Featured is merchandise from various bands. Photo by Ceyda Baysal.

Opinion: Buy merch, stream music and save the bands

The coronavirus outbreak devastated businesses and entertainment organizations all around the world. Because the CDC warns against all large gatherings, many concerts have been canceled in consideration to the artists’ and the audience members’ health. Although these cancellations protect public health, they also hurt smaller bands and independent artists whose main income is sourced in selling concert tickets and merchandise. 

Artists such as Best Coast, Rex Orange County, HUNNY and many, many more had to stop performing mid-tour. The Happy Fits, having planned to tour with The Frights March through April, played one show of the tour  in Arizona before finding out they had to travel home all the way to New Jersey due to the virus. 

Ross Monteith, guitarist of The Happy Fits, reflects on the band’s experience after losing the opportunity to tour in the spring, “We, personally, are in a fortunate position to receive a good amount of income each month from online streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music. There are a lot of bands out there however that aren’t in that position (although they should be) and rely mostly on merch sales and touring. Obviously, this situation is out of everyone’s control and it’s better for the health of everyone that bands don’t tour during this time but it does come at a loss for everyone trying to make a living off of this industry.”

Easily forgotten is the fact that performing as a musician, although a creative and exciting lifestyle, is a career, one that many depend on for income. It can be a difficult career to depend on, especially in the case of all-affecting unexpected situations such as the pandemic we are experiencing. Being that this virus has affected many musicians’ main source of income, they are in need of help to keep producing the art we appreciate and enjoy.

Music-listeners can take many steps in order to help affected bands. Monteith suggests, “I think the best thing you can do at this time, to support your favorite bands, is to stream their music as much as possible and buy their merch if you can. I know that every band, no matter how big or small, will truly appreciate this during this time.”

Even organizations that work with musician promotion and merchandise have provided special deals in the best interest of the artists. For example, this past Friday, Bandcamp, a website that helps connect listeners to new music and houses online shops for musicians to sell merch on, waived their revenue share on all sales—meaning all the profit from purchases go directly to respective artists.

This was a generous step on Bandcamp’s behalf, allowing music-listeners to directly contribute to musicians’ incomes. Other organizations such as The Musicians Union Of Los Angeles provides eligible members with up to $150 from their emergency fund. Although a generous gesture, $150 is not enough to live off of from now until whenever musicians will be able to tour and independently earn income once again. 

Many musicians, disappointed by the cancellations of their tours, announced a new wave of entertainment: Livestream concerts. Artists such as The Sonder Bombs and Rex Orange County have organized at-home concerts through Instagram Live, giving everyone an opportunity to enjoy performances and connect to the artists while practicing social distancing. It is an innovative solution from the musicians, offering a safe alternative to touring.

As music-listeners, we can all do our part in supporting and helping musicians. Their creations make the world a bit more enjoyable, even in the midst of a pandemic. Spending a bit of money on merch and streaming music through reliable services will keep our favorite musicians and the connections they create alive.