Supporting Artists During the Covid-19 Pandemic

This article was written by Ethan Diamond of Bandcamp.

The Covid-19 pandemic is in full force, and artists have been hit especially hard as tours and shows are being canceled for the foreseeable future. With such a major revenue stream drying up almost entirely, finding ways to continue supporting artists in the coming months is now an urgent priority for anyone who cares about music and the artists who create it. The good news is that we’re already seeing many fans going above and beyond to support artists across Bandcamp.

To raise even more awareness around the pandemic’s impact on musicians everywhere, we’re waiving our revenue share on sales this Friday, March 20 (from midnight to midnight Pacific Time), and rallying the Bandcamp community to put much needed money directly into artists’ pockets.

For many artists, a single day of boosted sales can mean the difference between being able to pay rent or not. Still, we consider this just a starting point. Musicians will continue to feel the effects of lost touring income for many months to come, so we’re also sharing some ideas below on how fans can support the artists they love and how artists can give fans new, creative ways to provide support.

It may sound simple, but the best way to help artists is with your direct financial support, and we hope you’ll join us on Friday and through the coming months as we work to support artists in this challenging time.

If you’re a fan, we recognize that plenty of music fans are also seeing their livelihoods disrupted by this virus, but if you’re lucky enough to be in a position to spare some funds (or find yourself in that position in the coming months), please consider sharing your good fortune by buying music and merchandise directly from artists on Bandcamp. This Friday, March 20th, Bandcamp’s share of sales will also go to the artists and labels you choose to support, and as always, it will reach them in 24-48 hours.

If you already have all the music and merchandise you want from your favorite artists, consider discovering new favorites via our editorial publication, Bandcamp Daily — our best-of’s are a great place to start. Bandcamp Discover is another solid way to find new favorites, and browse our inventory of over 800,000 unique physical items, including vinyl, cassettes, and more. You can also send your favorite music and merch to a friend (there’s a “send as gift” option below every item on an album page and in your collection), or give them a Bandcamp gift card and let them make their own selections.

Finally, most of the items on Bandcamp have an option to pay more than the asking price, and leave a note for the artist. A tip and words of support are always appreciated, but especially so now.

If you’re an artist, start by taking a look at the new Bandcamp Artist Guide, which is full of recommendations for how to maximize your sales on Bandcamp. The sections on community and merch may be particularly useful right now, as you look to replace income you’ve lost from canceled tours and shows.

We’re telling everyone with a Bandcamp fan account about Friday’s event, but please help us spread the word via your usual social channels. You can also use the Bandcamp Artist App to message your followers about it.

Many of your fans are actively looking for ways to support you through this crisis. Even if you don’t have new music or merch, we know fans love live recordings and early demos, and this is a good time to dig those up and release them on Bandcamp. We’re also seeing artists offering music production services, as well as video hangouts, lessons, and gear tutorials (these can all be listed as merch items on Bandcamp). And by setting up your own subscription service on Bandcamp, fans can provide you with their sustained, recurring support (check out STS9, Kursa, George Clanton, Papadosio, Steve Lawson, Holy Roar Records, and Greenleaf Music, for example).

Over the coming weeks we’ll collect examples of what’s working best and share those here, so if something is especially effective for you or you’re just excited about an idea, please let us know.

P.S. Many others within the music industry are being impacted as well, including record store owners and staff, tour managers, event producers, venue staff, lighting and sound professionals, janitors, photographers, bartenders, security guards, and more. We encourage you to find ways to reach out and support those affected in your local communities.

P.P.S. Friday’s waiver does not include artist subscription payments or vinyl pressing campaign pledges. For more information on Bandcamp’s revenue share, please see our Fair Trade Music Policy.