Not too long ago, the media abounded with predictions of how quickly the entertainment industry would bounce back from the pandemic.
As vaccines continued to rollout, the Summer of 2021 experienced a surge in optimism (at least in developed countries), with many expectations that everything would improve by the end of the year.
Then omicron came, and the surge of that variant, combined with the expected winter surge of the coronavirus in general, resulted in returns to lockdowns, massive interference with travel — and widespread cancellations of music performances.
The entire arts and entertainment industry has been profoundly impacted by the pandemic, and it’s been evident from reports (as well as common sense) that entertainment would be the last industry to make a comeback, as it relies on something most people haven’t experienced for two years — large gatherings of people.
The Hollywood Reporter wrote back in May 2020 that the global entertainment industry would lose $160 billion of growth over the following five years, reporting on conclusions from research firm Ampere Analysis.
But it’s hard to argue that musicians have experienced the worst of it. Before the pandemic, musicians have increasingly relied on the money from live shows as the profits from recording became nonexistent with the rise of streaming through the likes of Spotify and YouTube.
As a crude comparison, the global box office could return to pre-pandemic levels of spending by 2024 and hit $43.3 billion by 2025, according to Global Entertainment & Media Outlook 2021-2025, a report from firm PwC that analyzed spending by consumers and advertisers.
Compare that to a report out of the UK, which concluded that their music industry wouldn’t return to pre-pandemic levels of spending until 2025. A UK charity reported in November 2021 that one-third of musicians were still earning nothing after restrictions on live events were lifted that summer, according to UK charity Help Musicians.
While something resembling normal life has resumed for many people, big events requiring large gatherings of people have remained problematic. Caught between the expectations of fans and the social distancing requirements of venues, many performers have had to cancel performances, often after selling out venues and spending weeks or months on promotion.
The result is that musicians in early 2022 find themselves in the same situation they’ve faced for the previous two years: no way of making money.
As a philanthropist, Thomas Kane usually focuses on visual artists, another group that has suffered during the pandemic. But today he’s suggesting ways to support the musicians that desperately need help.
Here are a few ideas.
Buy Some Merch
Do you already have a favorite band? Well, even if you can’t buy tickets from them, one of the best things you can do to put money directly into their pockets is buy shirts, vinyl records or other merchandise directly from them.
It’s more than likely that the band sells its merch through one of the many online channels for promotion and sales. Maybe they even have an online store on their website. Whatever you buy, you can rest easy knowing that the band is actually receiving the money.
Fund A Charity
Many charities focused on musicians have reached out to ask for help during the pandemic. They all will tell you that the need is greater than it’s ever been, and struggling musicians need help to keep a roof over their heads, or get health care.
Thankfully, Rolling Stone put together a great list of charities focused on helping musicians. A few examples include:
This 107-year-old organization has a Covid-based Emergency Relief Grant that offers up to $200 to all eligible musicians who have performed in the U.S. for at least five years.
The Recording Academy’s nonprofit wing has provided financial, medical, and personal aid to musicians for 30 years. It has raised millions for its Covid-19 Relief Fund, relying on the likes of John Mayer, Father John Misty, and Leon Bridges to raise awareness about its initiatives.
There are many worthwhile organizations worth supporting right now, Thomas Kane said.
But Kane added that musicians deserve a piece of that support, in the hopes that the post-pandemic world has as much music as the one we remember.