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Strength in Numbers: 5 Ways You Can Support Artists from Home

*Thanks to GREY O’NEIL for co-authoring this post

As Coronavirus fears mounted in the United States, the music industry was one of the first to feel the economic impact en mass. Ultra Music Festival in Miami canceled on March 4, followed by SXSW on March 6, and the floodgates opened quickly thereafter. The world of artists, managers, booking agents, and promoters has been in a frenzy ever since. Artists and their teams on every level are being impacted, from stadiums to the bar venue down the street.

In difficult times, people turn to music for comfort and inspiration. Here are 5 ways you can return the favor and support artists (and their businesses) from the safety of your living room:

Stream, stream, stream! All day and all night. Contrary to popular belief, services like Spotify, Apple Music, and Youtube actually do pay artists and can account for a significant percentage of a band’s revenue. Here are some tips to make the most of your streaming for artists:

  • Spotify Pro Tips:
    -Streams don’t count if the volume is muted, so keep the volume on!
    -The song must play for at least 30 seconds to count.
    -“Follow” the artist
    -“Heart” the album and each individual song
    -Download albums and songs to your Spotify library
  • Apple Music / iTunes Pro Tips:
    -“Heart” the album and each individual song
    -Download to your Apple Music library
    -iTunes – Rate the album and leave a review. You don’t have to purchase the album to do this, and it increases the artist’s overall ranking across Apple Platforms
  • Youtube Pro Tips:
    -Subscribe to the artist’s channel
    -“Like,” “Save,” and “Comment” on artists videos
    -If possible, choose to watch videos from the artists channel vs. a third party or independent upload.

It’s not easy to ask for financial help. Be on the lookout for artist kickstarters, gofundmes, and digital tips jars. This is a direct way to keep artists afloat. Here are two places to donate that go directly to artists:

  • RootfireTV – Here at Rootfire we are hosting live sessions, Q+A’s, and other digital content. 100% of donations made during live streams go directly to the artists.
  • Equal Sound Corona Relief Fund – Tax deductible donations are being turned into grants of up to $500 per canceled show. Artists apply on a per-show basis. It’s rad.

Interacting with artists online can lift their spirits and helps move the algorithms in their favor. Whatever social media you use, reach out to the artist and say hello.

  • Comment – It may seem basic but tagging your friends in comments is one of the best ways to increase a post’s reach and visibility. Plus it can be a fun way to interact with friends during this period of social distancing.
  • Share – Sharing your favorite tracks and videos from the band on social media helps amplify streams (which equals revenue for the band) and helps create new fans. Be sure to tag the band in your posts…you might just get a shout out back.
  • Tune In – Lot’s of groups will be hosting live sessions online. Tuning in will let artists know you still care and can help generate ad revenue.
    • We are curating live sessions over at RootfireTV and collecting donations for artists in real time. 100% of the donations go directly to the artist.
    • Host your own watch parties. Rallying your friends to engage with videos at the same time can be fun and help move the needle on streams. Share bands videos in facebook groups.

4. BUY
Buying directly from an artist’s website is the quickest and most direct way to get money to them (whereas Spotify, Apple Music, etc. often take 3-6 months to process). In times like these, getting cash in the door will help keep the lights on and food on the table.

  • Buy Small Goods (stickers, posters, and CD’s) – Small ticket items definitely move the needle. Chipping in $5-$10 can make a big difference.
  • Download Albums  In the age of streaming, we often forget about buying digital music. Purchase an album from Bandcamp, iTunes, and Google Play, in that order (based on the % paid back to the artist for each service).
  • Gift Cards – Give the gift of supporting your favorite artist.

Coronavirus is affecting every aspect of our economy. We will need systematic changes and good policy to address the immediate effects and to help the music industry recover in the long run. Here are two places you can advocate for policy changes that benefit artists. Make your voice heard:

One of the greatest silver linings through all of this craziness is seeing the community rally to support artists and each other. At Rootfire we are passionate about nurturing this community and helping artists build sustainable careers. If you’d like to get involved and do more, please reach out to us at rootfire [at] rootfire [dot] net. We’re excited to keep building with you.

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Reid was born and raised in Sacramento, CA, and first connected with Rootfire in 2011 while living and working in New Zealand with The Black Seeds worldwide team. Before that he was the drummer of a folk-rock group called 2Me. Today he manages some of our favorite bands and oversees all operations of Rootfire.

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