How to support local artists when concerts are canceled

No live shows means no income for many local artists, but everyone can help out.

Morgan La Casse

Morgan La Casse

Alex Strangman

Boredom, stress, anxiety. As the COVID-19 lockdown continues to ramp up, people everywhere are feeling the effects in one way or another.

For artists, the pause on normal life has created a stressful financial situation as shows are being canceled weeks and even months into the future.

Lazerbeak, CEO of Doomtree Records and manager of acts including Sophia Eris and Chastity Brown, said across the eight to 10 artists he works with on a regular basis, they’ve already had to cancel or postpone over 80 shows.

Right now, he says people in the music industry are simply trying their best to make sure as many shows are rescheduled as possible, amid an uncertain future.

“All we can do right now is try to postpone and reschedule, knowing full well that that postponed and rescheduled show might also be postponed and rescheduled. … Everyone is just kind of kicking the ball a little bit forward, not knowing if any of this is going to happen,” he said.

The shutdown of normal life has also created issues for musicians beyond just finances. It is also affecting some artists’ ability to create new music.

Local musician Grace Baldwin, known for her work in Minneapolis surf-punk trio Last Import, says the shutdown has made going to record with people almost impossible, forcing her to revert to old-school methods.

“I’ve kind of been sitting in my room trying to figure out like, ‘Okay how do I make something sound good on GarageBand that I can put out?’ I feel like I’m in fourth grade again, clicking around with everything,” she said.

Many artists are using this time to work on their craft as best they can.

However, according to Lazerbeak, it’s important to remember that musicians are just like everyone else, and fans should allow them room to deal with everything that’s happening, not “bugging them to make a new song about all this stuff.”

What fans can do though is support their favorite local artists in a host of different ways.

Jake Berglove, vocalist in indie-pop group Early Eyes, says first and foremost, fans should do their part to ensure things can resume normally as soon as possible.

“The best thing everyone could do is stay home, wash your hands and get a hold of this thing as best we can, so everyone can get on the road sooner rather than later,” they said.

For people looking to make fiscal contributions, Lazerbeak, Baldwin and Berglove all agree that using sites like Bandcamp, which takes a relatively low percentage fee from musicians,  purchasing merchandise and streaming music are the best ways to financially support artists.

Beyond that, fans are being encouraged to use their social means to support artists by engaging with them online, allowing them to reach a larger audience.

There are also relief funds set up, like the Twin Cities Music Community Trust, which disperses funds to people in the industry affected by show cancellations.

We live in a time where artists are more accessible to fans than ever before. Lazerbeak says simply reaching out on social media is a great way to find out how to support local artists.

“If you really are wanting to help out and there’s a specific act, I would say be bold and reach out. And don’t be condescending, but just ask, because there’s definitely people out here that are not going to be able to pay their rent because they just had a bunch of shows canceled,” he said.