Music in the times of COVID-19

The sprawling ecosystem of artists, record stores and professionals whose livelihoods depend on a thriving music industry have proved far from immune to the financial impacts of COVID-19.

Many musicians and venues have shifted performances online (often with the possibility of viewers making a donation), and many platforms are offering relief funds or waiving platform fees to directly support artists.

So what can I do to help?

As always, buying music and merchandise is a great way of supporting artists. So too is booking re-scheduled gigs, and meanwhile even streaming can bring in (some) revenue.

If you’re cursed with a strain of vinyl-addiction, now’s a great time to feed your habit. Support independent record stores – many are still operating online. If you’re in a position to donate, Spotify are matching donations up to $10 million. Musicians looking for assistance can check Help Musicians UK and Patreon, both of whom have launched hardship funds where artists can apply for a one-off payments.

Whilst we’re bombarded with limited-time offers of removed paywalls, it can be overwhelming to know where to direct your attention. I’ll avoid adding to your lists. One recommendation I’ll steal from literary types is to use this time to focus on the classics: both the Metropolitan in New York and the National Opera of Paris have some excellent performances online. If you’ve gawped at prohibitive prices or put off classical music for retirement, now might be as good a time to start as any.