Work From Home is a new vertical dedicated to life and culture in the strange and unprecedented situation of self-quarantine that many of us are dealing with right now. From what to watch to how to get a fit off and how to not think about anything, this is our guide to the great indoors. For updates on the spread of Covid-19 and how to keep yourself safe and informed, consult WHO and the CDC.
Undeniably, things have changed in the last seven days. Vast swathes of the global population have been encouraged to stay home and socially distance themselves to “flatten the curve” in order to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Even before the widespread measures, SXSW was cancelled, and Coachella, one of the biggest and highly anticipated festivals in the world, has been postponed to late 2020. Bars, clubs, restaurants, community centers, gyms, yoga studios, cafes, and more may have closed where you live. Many people simply do not have an income for the foreseeable future.
Most musicians have been negatively impacted by the current circumstances. In cities like Berlin and New York, clubs and venues are closed, and DJs and musicians who rely on income from performances have been left in the dust. Although many musicians (emerging and veteran alike) rely on other streams of income to survive, performing is typically the most lucrative portion of their take-home pay, and their side gigs might very well be in the service industry – similarly precarious and vulnerable right now.
These dire circumstances raise increasingly valid questions: Where would we be right now without music? Sitting on our couches in silence? Dancing around with no soundtrack to the uncertainty? Sounds bleak to me. It’s time to think about the best ways we can support your favorite musicians right now without going to their shows, and we’re going to walk you through them.
Transfer money to them directly!
The most effective form of support to your favorite musicians (that is, your favorite musicians who aren't multi-millionaires) right now would be to directly send them money through the likes of PayPal, Cash app, and Venmo. Many independent musicians who solely rely on income from live shows and touring have already posted information on how you can best support them, so check out their social media to see if they’ve already shared relevant information. If not, see if you can get in touch and ask them how you can best help them.
Donating directly to musicians actually helps! Case in point experimental electronic duo Pelada, who were recently stranded in Brussels after their 15-date European tour was cancelled. Thanks to the kindness of their fans, they were able to cover one of their flights back to their home of Montréal.
In lieu of IRL concerts, many musicians are hosting livestream performances to help keep us all sane in these disorienting times. While Chris Martin and John Legend are probably going to be fine, if musicians you watch from the comfort of your couch happen to be on the more independent end of the spectrum, send them what you can via PayPal if you tune in.
Offer ongoing support through various platforms, get cool stuff in return
Patreon is a platform some musicians have turned to for ongoing, monthly support, and now would be an excellent time to become a patron. While a few centuries ago you had to have the immense wealth of a Medici to truly “support the arts,” these days, you can help out for less than a latte. Zola Jesus, for example, offers unreleased music, Patreon-exclusive posts, access to an exclusive Discord channel, live chats, exclusive merch and more, all for a monthly contribution of anywhere from $1-$100.
TORRES, who recently had her European tour abruptly cancelled and had to unexpectedly pay for emergency flights home to the US for her entire band, also has a Patreon, where you can hear exclusive TORRES songs and connect with her via private message.
As pointed out by DeForrest Brown, Jr., author of the excellent piece “How Platform Capitalism Devalued the Music Industry,” New York’s Bergsonist recently started Pick Up the Flow, a Patreon devoted to sharing information on grants, artists relief funds, and job listings.
Currents.fm, a more recent edition to the subscription zone, offers musicians a place to share curated music lists in exchange for tips from fans. Most are only $2.50 a month, less than a cup of coffee, which is more support than 18,125 annual streams on Spotify or 107,142 annual streams on YouTube. Independent DJs and producers are sharing some much-coveted tracks and themed playlists up to several times a month. Check out playlists from ambient artist Avstånd, NTS’ ZULI, and Air Max ‘97 for a start.
Buy their music!
Streaming, while very convenient, pays out very little to the vast majority of artists. If there’s an album that’s been on heavy rotation or a track you just can’t get enough of, give back to the people that created it! While streaming is convenient and has made it easier than ever to discover music, we need to treat our consumption of music like we would anything else in our lives, argues Mat Dryhurst, who teaches at NYU’s Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music and regularly shares his insights on the ever-shifting music industry. “People make consumer distinctions like this all the time,” he explains. “It is intuitive to pay less for mass produced everyday clothing basics than they do for a dress that is artfully crafted with a unique origin story. We would do well to begin exercising a similar logic in how we support musicians.”
Bandcamp is one of the best places to buy music, paying out artists more than any other platform; In the past 30 days alone, artists have received $9.4 million from them. And on Friday, March 20, from midnight to midnight PST, Bandcamp is waiving their revenue shares across the board to help support musicians. Artists and labels alike often offer their full digital discography at a discount, so now would be the best time to legally get your hands on your faves’ back catalogues.
If you’re not sure where to start on Bandcamp, check out Buy Music Club. The platform features user-generated playlists, many from DJs and music publications, with direct links to buy tracks, EPs, and albums on Bandcamp.
Buy their merch!
With many brick and mortar retail stores shutting down for safety reasons, we can fortunately still partake in retail therapy from the comfort of our own homes. If you feel compelled to rep your favourite artists while social distancing, buy their merch! After reading our story on Porches, copping his new album Ricky Music on Bandcamp and becoming even more obsessed with him, why not cop a cozy hoodie from his Dark Muscle LLC brand?
Yaeji has got your stay-at-home style covered with her Yaeji Mart wares – crewneck sweatshirts, relaxed fit eco cotton pants, and even masks for keeping your germs to yourself. Many of your beloved musicians will have merch for sale on their official websites or through Instagram, so be sure to check there.
The aforementioned author and musician DeForrest Brown, Jr. (aka Speaker Music) is also involved with a campaign called Make Techno Black Again, which collaborated with HECHA / 做, a sustainable clothing brand on hats bearing the motto, had this to say about the venture: “[It] has opened up the scope of how I approach revenue streams and organizing content and event production beyond the traditional music business model of the album/tour cycle.”
This time of social distancing and self isolation, while frustrating, is a great opportunity to reflect on how interconnected we all are, and how important art is to help us persevere. Let’s take this opportunity to support each other, and not forget the people who got us through heartbreak, were the soundtracks to dinners with friends, entertained us during commutes to work, and who will get us through this uncertain moment, too.