How you can affordably support musicians in 2021

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As we move into 2021, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for musicians to make a living. With concerts still on hold indefinitely, many artists have been without their main source of income for almost a year now. 

On top of the pandemic, streaming services also pose a threat to an artist’s livelihood. Although it can vary between platforms and individual artists, many of these services pay an artist an average of around half a cent per stream. 

Since the popularity of these services has drastically decreased the sales of physical music, combined with the loss of concerts over this past year, many artists are now having to rely on their streaming paycheck alone.

Despite all this, there are some very easy, effective and affordable ways to help out your favourite musicians during this difficult time. 

Especially since many music fans have been filling their extra spare time in lockdown by streaming more music, it’s very important to think about how we can show our appreciation for the people who created the art that has kept us company. 

For small artists in particular, it can be very reassuring to know that there are individual fans out there who are dedicated to you, especially during a time when musicians can’t go on tour and physically connect with their listeners.

One of the easiest, most inexpensive things you can do to support an artist is to quite simply spread the word about their music. In today’s digital world, it’s absolutely essential to involve your streaming service’s algorithm in this conversation. 

For instance, if you’re a Spotify user, a great way to do this is to make sure that you’re following your favourite artists, by visiting their profile and hitting the “Follow” button. It’s also a good idea to save the artist’s songs to your library, which you can do on pretty much any streaming service these days. 

If you interact with an artist’s page and songs on a streaming service, “the algorithm is going to work harder to push that song out to more audiences,” as musician Gabe Goodman explains in an informative video on Twitter. 

This means the song will start to show up in other users’ recommendations, and therefore reach a bigger audience, which helps your favourite artist make just a little bit more money from streaming. 

Of course, you can tell your real human friends about what music you’re loving right now. This could even be a good conversation-starter for friends you haven’t seen or spoken to in a while due to the pandemic. And of course, never feel guilty about posting too many songs on your Instagram story. 

Speaking of social media, you can also help your favourite musicians reach a larger audience by following them on platforms like Instagram and TikTok, as these apps are becoming more and more popular for music discovery. 

By following artists while liking, sharing and saving their posts, you’re encouraging the social media algorithms to blow their page up.

However, if you do happen to have a bit of extra cash kicking around, it’s always nice to buy some merch from your favourite musicians. By wearing a t-shirt, hoodie or even socks with an artist’s logo on it, this also acts as a form of promotion and exposure. 

Another tip if you’re able to spend money right now is to buy tickets to online concert streams. Not only is this a great way to put money more directly into a musician’s pocket, it also gives you a taste of that concert experience we’ve all been missing so much this year.  

If you’ve got a little bit more time and money to invest, why not try out a new hobby of collecting physical music. Experiment with vinyl records, CDs or even cassette tapes, as there are now so many options available on artists’ websites. 

So, whether you’re working an algorithm in favour of artists, suggesting new music to your friends or buying a t-shirt, make it one of your New Year’s resolutions to support the music industry however you can.

By taking a bit of time to show artists that you care, you will be helping the music industry stay alive until the pandemic is finally over.

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