WA’s music industry is in a tailspin with hundreds of local artists and music industry professionals losing months of gigs, following efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19 or coronavirus.
After the ban on gatherings of over 500 people, music industry body West Australian Music has estimated losses to the industry totalling nearly $100 million as of March 17. Further losses are expected following the subsequent tightening of restrictions, closure of venues and limitations on small scale events since then.
According to WA singer/songwriter Gina Williams the loss of live performances, venues and gigs has put many artists into financial free fall.
“Musicians rely heavily on festivals and live performances to sustain our businesses, more now than ever in this era of digital downloads,” Ms Williams said.
“We work incredibly hard at what we do because if we don’t work, we don’t get paid.”
But while we do our part to stop the spread of the virus by staying indoors, what are some of the ways we can keep our State’s music and culture alive?
Here are just a few of the ways you can help out from home…
Tune in to livestream events
Many artists are turning to the virtual space to keep in touch with fans, with live-streaming proving a brilliant new way to give artists an outlet, if not an income during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Recently livestreamed festival Isol-Aid saw more than 70 artists band together over the March 21 weekend. Each of the singers and bands livestreamed a 20-minute set through Instagram, performed from wherever they’re isolated, before tagging the page of the next band in the line-up.At the end of the festival, more than $12,000 was raised for musician support charity Support Act.
This weekend (March 28-29), the festival is returning with a huge line-up of artists from noon to midnight over the two days. For more information and the full line-up head to the event Facebook page.
With months’ worth of festivals now cancelled, live-streaming could be the way musicians can continue to bring live performances to the community. Stay glued to bands’ social media for updates and possible dates, or even message them to request it.
Share on social media
With everyone shut away in their homes, social media will likely come into its own as the connecting force in the community even more than before. Even before the pandemic closed venues’ doors social media was the cheap but incredibly effective way for bands to get the word out. Keep the culture and feeling alive with local music by sharing and calling for support to your local favourites over social media. What’s more, let them know of your support as they’re likely doing it tough at the moment as well and could use a cheer from the crowd.
For all the big following bands may have on Instagram and Youtube, it doesn’t often put a dollar in their pocket to help them keep the music going. However, creatives crowd funding service Patreon has already a growing source of income for musicians and is a great way to support artists in the simplest way possible. While you might not get a CD or a t-shirt in return for your dollar, more than ever it can be an important way to show your support for your favourite bands or just the industry as a whole, which is being put under the financial crunch right now.
Buy merch and CDs
Well before social media came along, the staple of bands starting out has been the merch table with CDs, t-shirts, caps and more (even a rubix cube once!). Without ticket sales and gig fees, bands are relying on their fans to show their support online, so seek out links to their gear on their websites, social media or even Etsy (if they don’t have some yet let them you’re looking). Even if you’re not the type to buy merchandise from small scale events, getting your hands on that sweet sweet merch is a great way to show support while still getting something for your dollar at a time when everyones tightening their belts.
Soon after the banning of large-scale events, WAM launched a campaign to seek further support from State and Federal Governments for the music industry in tandem with other state organisations in the Australian Music Industry Network. A website, ilostmygig.net.au, has been set up not just for performers but any music industry professionals impacted to record their lost earnings to show the full scale of the impact on the industry.
WAM Chief Executive Office Mike Harris said the Government needed to immediately address the ongoing concerns and losses to the local music industry.
“It needs to show its support for music now by establishing programs that stimulate and support the sector now, during and beyond the COVID-19 pandemic,” Mr Harris said.
Even if you have to keep your distance these days it's more important than ever to fan the flames of music and culture in WA even if it’s just from a keyboard!