Ways to support musicians during the COVID-19 crisis

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Even in times of looming uncertainty, music has the power to relieve stress, improve our cognition and help us feel happy. It’s easy to take these benefits for granted, but now more than ever, it’s vital to recognize the people who make it possible: musicians.

Across the country, concerts, tours, and festivals have been postponed or cancelled, leaving many musicians facing a devastating financial reality. On average, live events account for about 70% of an artist’s income — up from about a third in the 1990s — making the current situation especially dire. Just as communities come together to enjoy music, we can also come together to support artists and show how much we value their music. Here are some things you can do right now to help.

1. Merch, merch, merch!

With artists receiving an ever-shrinking cut from record sales, merchandise has become a significant part of their income — just one t-shirt sale can provide as much cash as roughly 6,500 Spotify streams, and a single hoodie can be worth more than 50,000 YouTube views. With in-person concerts on hiatus for the foreseeable future, artists are selling apparel, posters and more on places like Bandcamp and Instagram, including lots of exclusives from cancelled tours. Buying merch will not only help your favorite artists survive this crisis — it will also give you something fresh to wear around the house!

2. Chip in at virtual concerts

We’ve been beyond inspired to see artists from across the musical spectrum streaming free virtual concerts from their homes or studios. These intimate shows not only entertain us with amazing live music, but provide a sense of community and togetherness that has been especially hard to come by lately. Most of these shows operate on a “pay what you can” basis, so if you can spare any amount of money, we encourage you to chip in, just as you would drop a few dollars in the bucket when you’re enjoying music on a Levitt lawn. We’ll keep you posted about upcoming virtual concerts from Levitt artists and beyond.

3. Support relief efforts

In addition to providing direct support to individual artists, you can also contribute to relief efforts that support musicians on a broader scale. The Artist Relief Project, Sweet Relief Musicians Fund and the Foundation for Contemporary Arts are all working on a national level, and similar efforts may be underway at a local scale in your community. Although this assistance may not be immediate, these organizations are working to help musicians at large recover from the COVID-19 crisis. We’ll continue to post information about relief efforts and resources for musicians in need of assistance. 

4. Take a class or lesson from a local artist

Many professional musicians also teach, both to pass the joy of playing music onto others and to make ends meet financially. Like so much else in our world, music lessons have gone virtual, so if you’ve been eyeing that dusty guitar or keyboard in the back of your closet, now is the perfect time to get some professional guidance on how to play it. In addition to helping you develop your musical abilities, taking lessons from a local artist also helps support your community’s music scene.  

5. Donate concert ticket refunds to the artist

Artists and music lovers alike are heartbroken by the long list of concerts and performances that will no longer take place because of COVID-19. If you purchased a ticket to such an event and received a refund, consider donating it back to the artist in order to help support them until the crisis ends. 

6. Book an artist to perform at a future event

If you’re planning a far-out event like a holiday party, booking live music now and paying a deposit is a great way to support musicians in your community in the short-term.

We can’t wait to once again gather on Levitt lawns and see our favorite musicians doing what they love. In the meantime, let’s support them as best we can!

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