How You Can Best Support The Artists You Love During Lockdown

Release date: 14th September, 2021

Hello, lovely humans! Welcome back and thank you for signing up to my mailing list. To those of you in lockdown like me, I feel for you and let’s all hang in there a little longer – vaccination rates are climbing and there’s happiness on the other side of this. To those of you not in lockdown, have an extra cocktail for me!

I’ve been really enjoying writing these letters to you, and I’ve tried to base them off common questions I get asked by fans or in media interviews which require a little more unpacking. Something I get asked a lot at the moment is “How can I best support you and the other artists I love during lockdown?” Thank you to everyone who has asked this – our industry is struggling hard right now and we truly appreciate your support.

I think supporting artists is a two-pronged approach – to help artists increase their income in the short term, and to help them expand their audience (which in turn, will also help increase their income in the long term). Here’s some ideas of how we can all do that for artists we love…

1) Buy merch!
Merch is the number one money maker for artists right now. Most of us are unable to tour due to lockdowns and border restrictions, and we earn next to nothing from steaming services (more on that in the next point…), so buying merch from our store for yourself or someone you love is more helpful than you may realise! I’d love to recommend BandCamp, a platform which many artists chose to sell from, including myself. BandCamp have dubbed the first Friday of every month BandCamp Friday, where they waive their revenue share on all sales, meaning every cent of your purchase on that day goes straight into the artist’s pocket. BandCamp Fridays have saved my ass more than a few times during this pandemic!

2) Buying instead of streaming.
I totally understand that the big appeal of streaming is its convenience. No one can deny that having basically any song you could possibly think of at your fingertips is incredibly useful. However, something I get asked a lot is whether artists actually make any money from streaming services. Beautiful, well-intentioned fans will say things to me at my shows like “I have streamed your EP so many times, so I hope that helps!” While I so appreciate this supportive sentiment, and it’s wonderful from a marketing perspective to be able to say you have a highly streamed song on Spotify or Apple Music, the sad truth is that streaming companies pay artists an absolute pittance per stream, and unless an artist reaches millions upon millions of streams, they’re unlikely to see any real financial benefit. This is something streaming companies don’t like to make public, because their companies rely on the exploitation of our creative property to make money, but we hardly see any of that profit. If we choose not to put our music on streaming services, we’re undiscoverable to the vast majority of listeners, so they have us over a barrel. The pay per stream rate across streaming services differs slightly, but they all pay only a tiny fraction of a cent per stream, and if you happen to be an artist signed to a record label, you generally won’t see a single cent from streaming until your record label has recouped the money they’ve spent on you. At a fraction of a cent per stream, that recoupment is going to take a long time. So I just thought I’d dispel the myth that streaming is in any way a lucrative avenue for artists, and suggest that if you do love an artist, but prefer to listen via streaming services for convenience, perhaps you can also buy a physical or digital copy of their work on a service like BandCamp!

3) Buy tickets to a show, whether or not you’re sure it’s going to happen.
In this ever-changing pandemic climate, we totally understand the hesitancy to buy tickets to shows. No one is ever able to guarantee that they’ll go ahead when originally planned, however, I’d like to encourage you to still buy a ticket to a show of an artist you love. What this means for us is that we’re able to look at the ticket sale numbers in advance and feel confident that once it’s safe to do so, the show will be worthwhile putting on. It’s difficult for us to plan a post-lockdown tour while looking at low ticket sales and feeling anxious that perhaps we will have put in all this time and money planning a tour, only for it to end up not being worthwhile going ahead once the time comes. Buying a ticket provides some security for us. There are always refund policies that will allow you to get your money back if the show is postponed to a new date you can’t make, or cancelled all together.

4) Call up your local radio station and request our songs, or more songs from Australian artists in general.
This one is real grass roots level, and I am here for it. Australian radio can be a tough place for our artists, because the stations with large listenerships are often extremely limited in the music they champion, and their playlists are often heavily focused on international acts rather than local ones. As a music lover, one of the coolest things you can do is call up your local radio station, or any radio station for that matter, and request more songs from Australian artists. Many of us – and I’ve always felt this way – fall through the cracks of the limited radio formats in this country, and thus, it’s very hard for us to reach a broader audience, and we miss out on the royalties artists receive from having their music added to rotation. Radio helps increase exposure and helps us financially, so don’t be afraid to put pressure on the stations you listen to, especially in a time like this!

5) Share our music with your friends and family.
I truly believe word of mouth is still the strongest form of promotion. If I hear someone talk about an artist they love, and then I keep hearing others talk about the same artist, eventually I’m going to go check out what all the fuss is about, and I think many of us are like this. If an artist’s music has moved this many people to rave about them, it’s likely to move me too! Never underestimate how far a simple share on social media, or a message to family and friends with a link to an artist’s music with a rave review, can go.

Right now, the music industry does feel like it’s gasping for air. But these are just a few things you can do to know you’re supporting artists you love in their time of need. As someone who has lost count of their number of postponed or cancelled shows, and who is accustomed to pandemic-induced disappointment at this late stage, I think I can speak for many of us when I tell you that from the bottom of our hearts, we appreciate every single one of you who is championing our music and trying to keep us afloat right now. It means the absolute world, so thank you.

I love you guys,
IC x