If you’re anything like us here at Underground, you’re deeply concerned about the future of DIY scenes in the face of coronavirus. You’ve been watching as tours get cancelled, album release dates are pushed back, and bands are forced to come in from the road. Festival cancellations like SXSW—a major hub of networking opportunities for rising and independent artists—have led to major debt, and the closure of local venues has left many freelance photographers, promoters, and others in the industry without a steady source of income. While it's all for the collective wellbeing of the world, that doesn’t take away the financial and spiritual blow many DIY/freelance artists are facing right now. In the midst of the chaos, supporting creatives is more crucial than ever. Here are some ways you can help:
1.) Buy merch online!
This is the most important thing you can do right now, as it's money that a band/artist will likely see right away. Many acts need to compensate for financial losses after cancelled dates, as well as investments put into traveling. Buying a t-shirt, poster or other accessory from your favorite indie artist is a great way to ensure some extra cash!
2.) Buy music via Bandcamp, iTunes or whatever streaming service you prefer!
While it’s easy to stream anything for free these days, taking the time to purchase a digital song or album could really help a musician out. A great resource right now is Bandcamp, who is hosting a fundraiser on March 20, where 100% of profits go directly to artists, instead of the usual waived cut. For a small price, you can both jam out and provide direct compensation too!
3.) Promote new tour dates!
With announcements of rescheduled or cancelled tours coming in daily, there is definitely some confusion about when/where/if shows are happening. When new dates are announced, repost or retweet them to keep everyone on the same page. Help get people back on track and back to the gig once things are declared safe! Promoting these artists' music via social media is a good way to get people interested too in those future shows too.
4.) For your photographer/visual artist/freelance friends: buy their products online!
Many artists have an online store for their work. Consider buying a physical copy of an indie publication to read while you’re at home. Decorate your bedroom with new prints, or your laptops and jean jackets with stickers and pins. If you’re able, book your friends’ freelance services if they’re still being offered, or inquire about doing so in the future.
5.) Reach out!
It’s an extremely stressful time for everyone right now, with many people uncertain about their financial status and wellbeing moving forward. Check in on your friends running publications and doing press, as well as your pals working in tour management, PR, and booking, who are working tirelessly behind the scenes to help get things back on track. A simple message saying that you’re seeing their work and appreciate it could make all the difference.
While supporting DIY artists is important every day, it’s especially dire now. Remember, though, to continue to take care of yourself and those close to you. Continue listening to your favorite musicians while you’re at home to keep your spirits up. Take a break from social media when you need to, but don’t hesitate to spread some love while you’re there. Know this is only temporary. We’ll be back at shows, making art, and in the swing of things soon. Until then, being there for each other will make this trying time feel a little more manageable.
Words by Carly.
Photo by Eva.