With live events grinding to a halt around the globe due to the COVID-19 pandemic, musicians who rely on touring to make most of their money are expressing serious concern about their immediate financial stability. So are brick-and-mortar record stores, who need customers to stay afloat. Now, the music industry is attempting to take on the challenges brought on by these unprecedented times. For instance, Bandcamp recently waived its revenue share from all sales for a day, spurring a wildly successful sales drive that earned musicians $4.3 million.
Of course, buying albums and merchandise from artists is always a good way to support musicians. You can also tune into artists’ livestreams, and, where possible, donate directly to them. Even streaming music helps (a little)! Below are some more resources for relief, whether you’re an artist in need or a fan looking to do some good.
Support Independent Record Stores
As many shops have been forced to temporarily close, the music community around the world is banding together to encourage people to buy records from their local shop’s online store. The hashtag #LoveRecordStores has been appended to messages from Primal Scream, Elton John, Martin Freeman, Franz Ferdinand, and many more. Beggars Group, the British record conglomerate that includes 4AD, Rough Trade, XL, Matador, and Young Turks, has created a handy map of record stores in the United States, United Kingdom, and internationally, including links to their online stores.
The Recording Academy / MusiCares
On March 17, the Recording Academy announced that it had partnered with MusiCares for a COVID-19 relief fund, with each contributing $1 million to the fund. The Recording Academy’s site features landing pages of regional resources for the West, the South, and the East. The organization also posted a rundown of how Congress can help those involved in music, lobbying for increased protections for artists.
Spotify’s Music Relief Project
Last week, Spotify launched its COVID-19 Music Relief Project and promised to match up to $10 million in donations to music-related nonprofits like MusiCares, Help Musicians, and the PRS Foundation. Spotify also said it’s planning to roll out an optional fundraising feature for fans to give to artists directly, without the streaming platform taking a cut.
SoundCloud announced has partnered with the livestreaming platform Twitch on a plan to help artists get paid while they livestream performances. Artists with Pro and Premier Soundcloud pages (which SoundCloud is also offering at a discounted rate) can apply for a fast-tracked application for Twitch’s Affiliate status, which would allow them to run ads and sell merchandise as they livestream performances in isolation.
Artist Relief Project
A new endeavor from the creative arts nonprofit Artly World is providing both short-term financial emergency relief and long-term assistance to artists, musicians, and performers impacted by event cancellations and venue closures. The Artist Relief Project is accepting donations to help out artists and applications from artists to receive assistance.
Foundation for Contemporary Arts
The Foundation for Contemporary Arts is an artist-funded organization based in New York that focuses on benefiting artists who make “work of a contemporary, experimental nature.” Artists who have had performances or exhibitions canceled as a result of the pandemic can apply for $1,000 grants; find the application here.
Help Musicians UK
Help Musicians UK is an independent charity that assists emerging, professional, or retired musicians through donations. They recently launched the Coronavirus Financial Hardship Fund, a £5 million fund to “help reduce the worry many musicians are experiencing about their mounting household expenses.” Artists can apply for a one-off payment of £500 via this online form.
Jazz Foundation of America
The Jazz Foundation—a Manhattan-based nonprofit dedicated to assisting struggling musicians—has started the COVID-19 Musicians’ Emergency Fund to help artists and their families with basic living expenses. Donations of any amount may be made here.
The Max’s Kansas City Project
Named for the famed Manhattan nightclub, The Max’s Kansas City Project provides emergency funding and resources for creative arts professionals. This includes individuals who have made their living in the arts and demonstrate a need for medical, legal, or financial aid, and assistance with housing.
Professional musicians who have worked for at least five years in the United States can apply for a Musicians Foundation grant, which range from approximately $500–$3,000. The non-profit’s newest Emergency Grant Program offers all eligible applicants up to $200 in financial support.
Newport Festivals Musician Relief Fund
The Newport Festivals Musician Relief Fund provides financial relief to folk and jazz musicians. The fund’s priority is artists in the Rhode Island community and those who’ve played the Newport Jazz or Folk Festivals. Apply for a grant here.
Content subscription platform Patreon has established a grant for artists impacted by the pandemic, with recipients to be chosen by a board of creators. Artists can fill out a questionnaire to apply for the grant here.
Sweet Relief Musicians Fund
Sweet Relief is a nonprofit charity that focuses on providing financial assistance to working musicians and music industry workers in need. In light of the COVID-19 crisis, they have created a donor-supported fund that musicians and other professionals will be able to put toward “medical expenses, lodging, clothing, food and other vital living expenses.” You can apply for a grant here.
Memphis-based nonprofit the Blues Foundation has established the COVID-19 Blues Musician Emergency Relief Fund for full-time blues musicians whose income had been severely diminished by the current pandemic. Funding requests and information about donations are available on their website.
Clara Lionel Foundation
Rihanna’s Clara Lionel Foundation initially pledged $5 million in grants to COVID-19 response efforts. On top of that, the CLF is pledging that another $1 million will be matched by JAY-Z’s Shawn Carter Foundation. The CLF is an initiative that supports education and emergency response programs around the globe. Learn more about the foundation and their COVID-19 pledge here.
Equal Sound, a Los Angeles-based nonprofit organization focused on presenting concerts, has started a Coronavirus Relief Fund for musicians who have had gigs canceled. Find more information and apply for funding here.
Music Maker Relief Foundation
The nonprofit Music Maker Relief Foundation was established in 1994 with the goal of directly supporting older Southern folk and blues musicians who are unable to meet their needs. The organization has distributed over 12,000 grants to such artists since its founding. Donations can be made here. Currently, the foundation is matching all gifts up to $60,000.
Sound of Silence Campaign
Sound of Silence is a broad campaign to help Australian musicians affected by COVID-19, as well as others who rely on the music industry for work, encouraging fans to donate directly to the nonprofit Support Act in addition to buying more music and forgiving the lost ticket costs of canceled shows. “The music world has historically banded together to donate time and money to those in need, as seen recently with bushfire relief. Now they need the Australian music-loving public to do the same,” reads their mission statement.
Universal Music Group
UMG has launched several endeavors to help its employees and artists. The company has also expanded their All Together Now philanthropic program, directing its financial support to MusiCares’ COVID-19 Relief Fund and Help Musicians UK.