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Five ways fans can help artists in the face of COVID-19 cancellations

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COVID-19 has so far only infected a small fraction of the world’s population but it has already left few people unscathed. Musicians are among the hardest hit on the financial front. For many, the tours they were in the middle of as the mass cancellations of events began to occur were to provide them with a livelihood for weeks and sometimes months to come. And to top it off, some had to put out even more money just to get themselves and their bands home from far-flung places ahead of schedule. Also, most artists don’t qualify for EI. So what can you do to help your favourite artists now that you can’t go see them live? Here are five suggestions:

1. Get money into their hands any way you can

Really, this one’s pretty obvious. Purchase album downloads from their websites or from iTunes or Bandcamp. You can also buy vinyl albums, t-shirts and whatever else they might be selling. If you’re stuck at home for two weeks, why not hire them to give you some music lessons over Skype? A lot of artists teach when they’re not on the road. Check to see if they have crowdfunding campaigns on the go. Heck, some artists have told me that fans are just flat out e-transferring money to them to make sure they’re ok. One artist who’s been particularly hard hit told me it made her cry with gratitude. Whatever you can do, they will appreciate it. I promise.

2. Donate to funds that support artists in need, specifically:

  • The AFC – The AFC provides emergency financial relief to artists who need help covering basic expenses such as rent/mortgage payments, groceries and utility bills.
  • The AFM Local 1000 Emergency Relief Fund – LOTS of Canadian touring musicians, including folk/roots/world musicians are members of this local. It offers interest-free forgivable loans of up to $500 to help members make rent, pay bills and take care of other necessities when faced with an unforeseen crisis.
  • The Unison Benevolent Fund – This fund provides emergency financial relief to artists and also offers counseling services – something many artists can use right now.

3. Offer your expertise

Are you tech savvy? Many artists are looking for people to help them stream performances since they can’t play to live audiences. Are you good on social media? Graphic design? Maybe you could help them promote their new albums since they can’t tour. Chances are, you have a talent that your favourite artist could make use of.

4. Spend a few minutes each day boosting artists’ numbers on social media

Like their Facebook pages, follow them on Instagram and Twitter. Comment on their content. Subscribe to their YouTube channels. Click the links they post. Some funding organizations look at these numbers to help determine who is worthy of financial support. And, of course, enough Twitter followers or YouTube subscribers can qualify an artist for advertising arrangements that put money in their pockets. Also, stream their music on streaming services – but not as a replacement for buying their music (artists make virtually no money from streaming). Do it because some funding bodies look at stream counts in deciding who to fund, so you might be helping them get a loan to support their next, hopefully-not-cancelled tour.

5. Promote them to your friends

Help them win more fans who will buy their music and help them thrive.

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