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Give a Gift and Help a Band

Giving Tuesday broke records this year for the number of people who supported nonprofits and made donations to their favorite causes. News outlets speculated that the generosity was in response to the election results, suggesting that many people gave to organizations close to their community, as a direct way to make a positive change with their own resources.

We all want to support things we care about, and at Rootfire helping musicians and spreading good music is at the top of our list.

As you finish your holiday shopping this week, please consider giving your friends or family concert tickets. Not only will you have a direct impact on the business that the musicians are building (bands are businesses), but you will also be giving a social gift, one that brings people together in celebration of music. 

Reid Foster, manager of GPGDS, The Movement, and co-manager of The Expanders expands upon this idea below, diving deeper into more ways you can help support your favorite musicians.

Have a safe and wonderful holiday season; do something social with someone you love. Go see a concert and feel the riddim in your soul.  -Seth

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10 Easy Ways To Support Your Favorite Bands by Reid Foster

A fan of Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad recently asked “Wouldn’t you, the band, make more profit if I order a CD instead of getting it from iTunes, where a large portion of it [sales] goes to Apple?”

First of all, hats off to @marino2210 for asking such a thoughtful and considerate question.  It’s a simple and powerful reminder that most people want to do good and support the things they love.  Thank you.

To answer the question…

A lot of people think artists don’t make as much from iTunes as other platforms, but in reality the difference is only marginal.  iTunes takes 30% off the top, which is about as much as it costs to manufacture, package, and ship a CD. So it’s more or less a wash from a revenue standpoint. What most people don’t realize are the additional layers of value an artist receives when people buy from iTunes. The more popular an album is (via downloads, reviews, and ratings) the more likely it will receive features and banner placement on iTunes’ homepage, thus giving it exposure to a much wider audience and helping the artist gain new fans. Leaving a review and a rating (i.e. 4 stars, 5 stars, etc) also raises awareness via iTunes algorithms. So in short, buying an album from iTunes is totally a legit way to support artists, and artists feel that love in the form of their ranking on the iTunes charts and the kind things you say in the reviews. It’s awesome. Thank you again.

But that question got me thinking about all the other times I’ve had people ask “what’s the best way to support a band?” so I couldn’t help myself from really unpacking the question some more…

1) Tell your friends!  

Sharing is awesome, and it’s by far the most natural and effective way to help an artist in general. When a lyric reminds you of a friend, send it to them and let them know you love them. Blast your favorite band from the stereo while you’re hanging in the back yard. When a song rocks your soul, put it in a playlist and play it over and over. All of these things honestly help because, despite how much technology has changed everything, word of mouth is still the best. And it’s easy when it’s something you love.

2) Subscribe to their email lists

It’s hard to overstate the value of an email list in today’s economy. Email lists are the most direct way for an artist to get their message to fans, and they can be really fun! Oftentimes email lists are where an artist shares exclusive “sneak-peek” type of content, so it can be a really cool thing all around.   

3) Buy advance tickets to their concerts

This is far more significant than most people realize. From an industry perspective, the value of an artist is often based on pre-sale numbers, aka “how much are people clamoring to see this band?” When pre-sale numbers are low it reflects poorly on the artist and likewise poorly on the city. The booking agent and the local promoter may collectively decide to skip that city on the next tour. So if there’s a band you want to support, let them know by purchasing your tickets in advance. It makes a huge difference.

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4) Buy merch either online or at the shows  

This is where artists actually have decent margins to make a buck, and that money often goes straight into their gas tank to get to the next show. Plus, artists totally love seeing people wear their merchandise. It validates their art, and subtly encourages them to keep creating, so it’s good vibes all around.

5) Street Team

Reach out to the band and offer to help hang posters for an upcoming show (send an email to the contact info listed on their website). It’s a great way to help and, if you do it for multiple shows, the band members will often hear about it and personally appreciate it. So it’s a nice way to build relationships over time too.   

6) “Like” and Follow them on social media

This is pretty straightforward. The more followers a band has, the better they can spread the word about tours, new music, and important things in general. Social media is crazy and powerful. Help your favorite artists harness it to spread good stuff.  

7) Follow them on Spotify and/or Apple Music  

Despite all the fuss about low royalty rates, streaming is the future and it’s a rapidly growing revenue stream as more and more people start using it. Especially the paid (aka “premium”) accounts, which make up the lion’s share of revenue from the platforms. Example: during a non-album cycle I’ve personally seen Spotify account for 50% of ALL digital revenue, meaning the combined total of every other digital retailer including iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, Rhapsody, YouTube, etc.  

*Caveat: Pandora and Satellite radio are not included in this 50%, because they fall under a different kind of royalty, which leads to our next item…

8) Create Pandora stations and give your favorite songs a “thumbs up” when they get played

Pandora currently pays a higher royalty than Spotify, Apple Music, Tidal, etc. By creating a station around the artist you like, you’re shining a light on them and telling the Pandora algorithms you want to hear more. That translates to more pennies in an artist’s pocket, and the pennies start to add up when an artist has millions of plays.  

9) Tweet at your favorite radio stations to request the music

Whether it’s Satellite radio or your local college station, all of them have a Twitter account, and many of them pay close attention to what people are saying on it. Let them know who you want to hear!

10) Send them an email, or bring a handwritten letter to a show…

…explaining how their music has touched you, and encouraging them to keep creating. Musicians often feel overwhelmed, vulnerable, exhausted, just like the rest of us, and it’s amazing how a simple note can make such a difference in a person’s day. There’s nothing more uplifting than hearing from a fan who truly appreciates their art.

….this list could go on and on, but it all revolves around one basic thing: be an active fan in any way you choose. You’re obviously a thoughtful and hard-working person if you’re thinking about things like this, and that’s the kind of energy this business runs on. Know that you can make a difference and truly help, and know that artists appreciate and depend on people like you to spread the word.

So to everyone reading this, thank you for being a rockstar in your own right. Thank you for supporting music and art. The world is a better place because of you.

See you at the show!

Reid Foster

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Reid came to Rootfire by way of New Zealand, where he lived and worked with The Black Seeds worldwide team from 2011-2012. Before that he was the drummer of a folk-rock group called 2Me out of Sacramento, California. Today he manages The Movement, Giant Panda Guerrilla Dub Squad, and The Expanders.