In the midst of a global pandemic, Popscure contributor, Allison Weeks, took the time to share some perspective and grounding advice on how to approach our new reality in a world without live music and entertainment.
Spring has started springing, and music lovers and makers alike have reached the threshold of that long-awaited time of year: festival season. In a moment of divine harmony, chilly temps seemed to be on the outs while sunshine, crop tops, and fantasized lineups (too good to be true) floated into sight—a blissful ménage à trois between industry, spectator, and – well, Mother Nature. That is…until we were met with the unexpected.
COVID-19. Coronavirus. It has been difficult at best to get straightforward answers about the now pandemic and, as more and more cases are confirmed within the US, industries have been scrambling to make immediate safety decisions. Like rampant wildfire, events and institutions are announcing cancellations – including academia, concerts, festivals…the entire NBA season, even. But the music world has encountered these effects at a much more rapid pace.
On March 6th, in a shot heard ’round the world, the city of Austin, Texas, pulled the trigger on cancelling SXSW. Known more fondly on the street as “South By,” the mega festival/conference is a living, breathing point of convergence among film, music, tech, and interactive media, bringing together more than 400,000 attendees and over 2,000 acts spanning the globe. It’s a smorgasbord of art, culture, indie music, film, and ideas – and the damn thing generates over $350 million in roughly a week. The cancellation, a first in the notorious event’s 34 years, represents more than just a missed opportunity to knock back one too many PBRs while jamming to an exclusive Pom Poko set. It exists as an allegory for the financial ripple effect that artists are immediately feeling in the wake of social and economic chaos.
At this point, the numbers of cancelled shows and postponed tours are too large to gather, but if there’s one undeniable takeaway, it’s that this hurts. In the era of free streaming, leaks (read: hackers), and the availability of just about anything via smartphone at our fingertips, the whole “musician as a full-time job” thing is no cakewalk—nor is it much of a money tree for most. That’s why your favorite acts are always all, “Link in bio,” “Buy some merch,” “Get to the gig!” Promo is dough, yo.
In all seriousness, with no clear end to the corona-madness in sight and more cancellations rolling in by the day, it’s evident that festival and spring touring season are not going to be the midriff-bearing, sunny dreamscapes we had anticipated. Nevertheless, in the recent words of a quarantined Tom Hanks, “There’s no crying in baseball.” That’s right. Now isn’t the time to pity our missed experiences – it’s time to step up and show support in alternative ways to our favorite bands and artists. Cop some merch. Order the limited-edition vinyl. Buy the entire record on Bandcamp. Share their pages on your social media. Venmo where venmo is due (sorry Cash App, shameless personal plug). Also, consider making direct donations to independent labels and venues – they, too, are feeling the heavy weight of this. Seriously, be there for these folks. After all, the sounds they create and share with the world are what get us through difficult times like these.
Once the dust settles and we (hopefully) return to whatever pre-pandemic version of normalcy that existed, it’ll be your continued support that allows artists and venues to reschedule and keep the groove alive.
For more information on how to support artists, view live-streaming events, and stay updated on further cancellations, visit the Virtual Music Events Directory, compiled by Cherie Hu. The featured photo at the top was shot by Tye Truitt via SXSW.
As an added aside, recently featured artists: Shormey, Alfred., LOVELORN, LEYA, and Suburban Living‘s tours have been cut short. In good nature of the article above, directly purchasing any content/items from the artists/bands would be a great way of showing some support.
Unfamiliar with any of these artists? Take some time to get familiar below: