Tiny Ruins (pictured) joins the list of local musicians cancelling tours. Photo / @tinyruins

Coronavirus & The Music Industry: How To Support Your Favourite Local Artists

Hold onto concert tickets, buy some cool artist merch, and more simple ways to help out New Zealand artists right now

The music industry in New Zealand has been hit hard by the coronavirus outbreak.

Local artists have had to cancel overseas tours and postpone hometown gigs, cutting off the vital revenue stream that live music provides.

Thirteen Kiwi acts were due to play at influential South by Southwest music festival in Austin, Texas, this month including Tami Neilson, Nadia Reid, and pop band Yumi Zouma.

Both Tami Neilson and Nadia Reid have also had to pull the plug on their European tours, halting major international and local momentum off the back of new albums released in the last few weeks.

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Fat Freddy’s Drop likewise had to head home early on their booked European tour after just one show.  

A website, I Lost My Gig, has been set up for Australian and New Zealand artists to register their cancelled shows and tally the income lost during this period of crisis. The collated data showed losses of over $2.6 million in earnings by New Zealand musicians and music businesses in the first 24 hours of the survey going live. Currently, the tally sits at a combined $A300 million.

APRA-AMCOS NZ, which represents a vast number of Kiwi composers, songwriters and publishers, has since set up a New Zealand-specific page with the option of those registering to share their story with its audience.

The significant impact of Coronavirus reverberates far past musicians too and has threatened the livelihoods of music’s behind-the-scenes workforce.

Tour managers, directors, sound and lighting technicians, venue owners, and many other contractors, have lost work and found themselves in limbo without income.

“On a livelihood front, it has been an especially scary time for Banished Music, and for the amazing artists who we work with,” Reuben Bonner, director of Banished Music NZ, says.

 “It's very wide-ranging, beyond us and the artists: sound and lighting techs, tour managers are affected, but also all the great people who run and work at venues across New Zealand have just had their livelihoods taken away too.”

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His Auckland-based music label, booking and music management agency has been adversely affected, with artists represented Nadia Reid, Finn Andrews, Tiny Ruins, Lawrence Arabia, Borneo Band, among others, all having to cancel or postpone shows. 

Reb Fountain’s tour beginning late May is still planned to go ahead at this stage.

“We don't know where things are going to be at in late May and June. We see this as our tour of optimism — a little shiny lighthouse if things go in a really positive way,” says Bonner.  

“If it's safe to go out to shows, then we have an incredible tour for people to go to after being hunkered down for a while. That said, our priority is the safety of all parties, and the community at large. If it's feeling risky, then we have a backup tour booked.

“The silver lining is that once we have gotten through this period we will have some incredible gigs to look forward to in the future. The show will go on! [In the meantime] I think we're going to see an onslaught of live-streamed events.”

Buy artist merch from Na Noise, Reb Fountain, Finn Andrews, Anthonie Tonnon, Yumi Zouma, and more. Photo / Supplied

HOW YOU CAN HELP

• Visit Banished Music's 'Banished 4 Life' page for a comprehensive list of links on how to help and support their artists most directly. The page also includes a link to a $10 raffle to go in the draw to win double passes to every one of Banished Music's shows — forever. Their artists include Reb Fountain, Finn Andrews, Lawrence Arabia, Pluto, and more. All ticket proceeds to go to local independent promoters, and local live music venues.

• Hold onto the concert tickets rather than asking for a refund if the gig has been cancelled for now. Even if there isn't a new date, you will be able to donate the cost of that ticket to the artist and organiser, if that's a financial option for you.  

If you’re not spending money on concerts there’s always artist merch as a way to send largely unmediated money to musicians. Most artists have cool t-shirts, socks, hats, and more, along with vinyl and CDs, to buy from their websites or US music company Bandcamp.  Fat Freddy's Drop even has a hot sauce

• No audiences will mean live music venues will have to shut and will likely be unable to pay their bills. Look out for initiatives and fundraisers from your favourite local music venues such as Whammy Bar and The Wine Cellar in the next few weeks. In the meantime, Whammy and Wine Cellar both have t-shirts you can buy through Flying Out

• If you have the means, donate to Music Helps — a charity who will help support people who make live and recorded music possible in Aotearoa impacted by Covid-19. 

• Buy vinyl or CDs of your fave artists and if you listen on Spotify subscribe to the streaming service as musicians make more money that way. 

• Stream the 'ilostmygig' Spotify playlist which features artists who have registered on the I Lost My Gig website after being affected by Covid-19. 

MOVING FORWARD 

• Local artists are lifting our spirits with live-streamed performances on Instagram and Facebook — stay tuned for more from Nadia Reid, Tiny Ruins, and more. Marlon Williams is taking part in Australia's Instagram-streamed music festival Isol-Aid and will be performing this Sunday, 10pm NZ time. They join big overseas stars such as Neil Young, James Blake, Ariana Grande, and John Legend, adapting to the current crisis with creative at-home solutions.

•  Have a laugh at parody songs that are helping to (lightly) spread coronavirus information. A parody of The Knack's classic 1979 hit My Sharona by a Californian band whose members do a bat dance in the song's video is, unsurprisingly, going viral on YouTube. 

"Ooh my little deadly one, my deadly one, symptoms don’t show up for some time, Corona … m m m My Corona.”

• For Coronavirus information visit the Government's official Covid-19 advisory website Covid19.govt.nz

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