6 ways to support our music industry during COVID-19

At this point in the week I am usually working to compile the list of upcoming live music events planned for Fredericton. My intention is always to ensure everyone knows what is happening so they can get out to enjoy the experiences as part of our music-loving community. However this COVID-19 pandemic has derailed my norm along with everyone else’s and I’m working to find ‘some calm within the storm’ so to speak.

So many people are directly affected by the extreme measures being undertaken to attempt to control the spread of this virus. A little over a week ago now all schools, restaurants, movie theatres, malls, bowling alleys & businesses of all sizes shut down! Not just in New Brunswick but across the country and around the world! (are we living in the upside down?!) We’ve been living this reality but I’ll admit I’m still trying to get my head wrapped around it all. I trust our health advisers and government officials when they say this is absolutely necessary.  I want to do what needs to be done in order to ‘flatten the curve’ and to protect people from getting sick or worse. I am staying home, practicing social distancing and I’m washing my hands. I sense we are all adjusting and it isn’t easy but nobody is in this alone. Nobody!

As with all difficult situations there are silver linings. We see the heroes stepping up to meet the needs of many and we see communities coming together to support one another. The impact that art has to sooth and console during crisis has become even more evident.  Art galleries are offering free online guided tours.  And of course, music is running through everything! People are raising their voices together in song across balconies and along the streets. Concerts are being streamed online, new songs written to encourage social distancing and many song montages are popping up.

The music industry, a sector I’m proud to be a member of, has been extremely hard hit including the performers and everyone involved in making shows happen: promoters, presenters, artist managers, booking agents, sound & light technicians and more. My heart aches for everyone at this very difficult time.  Musicians for the most part operate as self-employed entrepreneurs and their inability to perform live to audiences has cut off their biggest stream of income.  Music festivals have had to make the difficult decisions to cancel.  Our beloved music venues are closed until further notice. During these extraordinary circumstances many are asking how they can help and I wanted to provide a few ideas for consideration.

    This is something you can do & it won’t cost you anything! Higher numbers of SUBSCRIBERs (youtube), LIKEs (Facebook) and FOLLOWs (Instagram, Twitter) help artists monetize their pages, bring more fans and appeal to talent buyers thus helping them to earn more money.  Invite your friends to also LIKE, FOLLOW, SUBSCRIBE and share with others as well!  The numbers and data are huge pieces of the financial landscape for artists.
  2. Buy songs, albums and/or merchandise
    Now is the perfect time to visit your favourite bands websites and buy their music and maybe add a t-shirt to your order. The selling of music and merchandise will keep one stream of revenue flowing for them during this critical time. If you need a place to start, visit the directory on the Music·Musique NB (MNB)  website which will help you find the band information you are looking for. Click here.
  3. Consider donating your concert tickets
    Many concerts have already had to be postponed or straight out cancelled if logistics won’t allow for another date to be settled. If you purchased a ticket to such a show, and if you are in a position to do so, consider donating the cost of that ticket rather than taking a refund. In many cases expenses have already been incurred and aren’t recoverable so these small donations can mean a whole lot to all involved.
  4. Donate to the Unison Benevolent Fund
    Unison is a non-profit organization that provides counselling, emergency relief, and benefit programs for those in the Canadian music community who face personal or professional challenges due to hardship, illness, unemployment or economic difficulties. Now more than ever, Unison’s emergency relief assistance is going to be a critical safety-net for members of the industry deeply affected by the virus. Help them be at the ready with your support by making a donation here . The Unison Benevolent Fund is also proudly part of the Spotify COVID-19 Music Relief Project. For every donation made at www.unisonfund.ca/donations/spotify, Spotify will match it dollar for dollar, up to a collective total of 10 million USD.
  5. Take a Skype lesson
    Is there a musician you’ve been admiring and thought how great it would be to learn from them? to pick their brain about something? Now is a great time to look them up and reach out to set up an online lesson. Look them up through their websites or send a message through their Facebook page. 
  6. Tune into streaming online concerts
    Many musicians taking to the internet to stream live concerts from their homes to stay connected with their audience. Some of these concerts provide a donation option to allow for an easy contribution to be made in exchange for you enjoying the ‘show’. There are too many for me to try and list them all but I encourage you to check in with the bands through social media accounts (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc) to find out what they have coming up.A dedicated website entitled The Social Distancing Festival has been established to provide a central location for listing worldwide events. Check it out here Also, Roots & Soul Music Promotions has set up a weekly Living Rooms Facebook Live Festival streaming every Sunday starting at 4PM. Check that out here

I, for one, cannot wait to be able to gather with all of you to share in the joy of the live music experience. To add my voice to all who join in the chorus of a song. To share laughter and tears at the songs and stories shared. To again be present in moments of magic created when our community comes together to connect.

In announcing the cancellation of this year’s Paddelefest Music & Outdoor Recreation Festival, normally our kick off to the fantastic summer season of festivals, I was struck by the following statement and whole heartedly agree.

‘I truly believe in the power of music and arts and the way they help bring people together, break down boundaries and change the world. Those things will never change. – Luke MacDonald

Please take care of yourselves and of each other as we make our way through these tumultuous days. Together everything is better. Together we’ll emerge from this crisis stronger. Reach out to your neighbours to ensure they are safe. Invite the music to run through your days because it’s been proven to improve our health. Daily dance parties are strongly encouraged and you don’t have to leave all the singing to the professionals!

Yours in love & music,

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