photo by Julia Reihs/KUTX
We’re all beginning to feel the nasty side effects of the growing coronavirus pandemic, but for Austin musicians and the businesses that support them, the financial pain is particularly acute. Widespread cancellations of festivals and concerts prompted by city, state, and federal disaster declarations pose a significant threat to their livelihood.
Luckily, there are still a few ways we can support these artists, workers, and businesses without having to face big crowds. To get you started, we’ve rounded up some links and info on how local musicians and their fans can help keep the Austin music scene happy and healthy.
Check In with Local Health Departments
Stay up to date on the latest advisories about COVID-19 from local and state health departments. Austin musicians can keep up with the latest information from Austin Public Health here and from the Texas Department of State Health Services here. Touring musicians should check in to regional health departments for notifications and advice.
Track Your Losses
While there is still much uncertainty on how artists may recoup money lost from canceled events and tours, artists should be diligent in tracking the impact of COVID-19 on their work and income. Some organizations are already trying to document lost wages. Austin Texas Musicians, a local non-profit organization, is currently gathering information from music industry professionals about their estimated losses from the cancellation of SXSW — fill out their survey here.
Apply For Relevant Grants and Assistance
The Texas Music Office has compiled a list of both local and international grants and loans applicable to Texas music industry professionals across genres. While some of the grants require membership of specific music organizations, there are also some more general grants for artists who have cancelled shows and lost income due to coronavirus, including Sweet Relief’s COVID-19 Fund and the Equal Sound Corona Relief Fund. The full list of grants and applications can be found here.
The Red River Cultural District set up a fund specifically for workers in the music, hospitality, and service industry businesses who have suffered economically as a result of event cancelations and business closures.
Austin members of the music scene may also be eligible for disaster unemployment assistance from the Texas Workforce Commission — more information on eligibility and details on applying for benefits can be found here.
Adjust Your Business Strategy
With touring and live shows out of the question for the foreseeable future, musicians may need to rethink their business plan. To help tackle these hurdles the Austin Music Foundation is providing one-on-one virtual meetings with their artist consultants.
Know Health Resources Available to You
Many musicians and music industry staff work as independent contractors, so access to reliable and affordable healthcare can often be difficult to find. Thankfully, there are national organizations like MusicCares and local non-profits like HAAM that can provide a safety net for some.
The past few weeks have been overwhelming and anxious for many, and it’s important to look after mental health just as much as physical. The SIMS Foundation is a local group dedicated to providing mental health and substance use recovery services for the Austin music community. For immediate support, 512-472-HELP (4357) is a 24/7 helpline run by Integral Care for those in mental health crisis in Travis County. Find more information about the helpline and its services here.
Share Your Information with Crowdsourced Campaigns
The I Lost My Gig campaign allows people to directly donate to Austin creatives and small business owners who have lost revenue following the cancellation of SXSW. Artists can share their story, their estimated losses, and their IDs for payment services like Venmo, Cash App, and Paypal. Austin artists can learn more about the campaign and submit their information here.
Let the People Know About Your Virtual Gig!
Austin 360 is staying on top of virtual shows! Share yours here.
Donate to Local Organizations and Crowdsourced Campaigns
Many individuals and organizations are stepping up to help ease some of the financials burdens due to COVID-19 related closures and cancellations.
- I Lost My Gig allows you to directly donate to Austin artists and industry professionals via payment services like Venmo, Cash App and Paypal.
- The Red River Cultural District is raising funds for venues, artists, and other industry workers with their Banding Together ATX crowdsourced campaign.
- The Austin Community Foundation’s Stand with Austin Fund will grant donated funds to Austin-area nonprofits that are helping individuals and small businesses suffering from the cancellation of SXSW.
- South by South Best, a crowdsourced campaign by T3 Thinktank, is distributing surprise tips to Austin service industry workers and donating to Black Fret, a non-profits that supports Austin musicians.
Buy Music and Merch
Support your favorite artists, labels, venues, etc. by moseying over to their websites to purchase songs, albums, and physical merch directly. Goodies for you, commerce for them!
In a giving mood? Consider purchasing one of your favorite albums for a friend or family member to brighten their day. Bandcamp and some artist websites have the option to gift a digital download link, so you can safely send a present from the comfort of your home!
Share the Music You Love
Keep your social media feeds full of fresh distractions and positivity by sharing your favorite music videos, Spotify playlists, and Bandcamp links!
Discover and Share
Now is a great time to dive into that backlog of artists you’ve been meaning to listen to and go deeper into the discographies of those you already dig.
Enjoy Austin Artists Livestreaming from Home
Despite widespread concert cancellations, there’s still live music in Austin — it’s just taking place virtually, of course. Artists are getting innovative by performing shows via livestream to keep bringing you the music you love. The SX-ATX Livestream Network Facebook group provides a hub for artists to share their videos, and Austin360 has a running list of other livestreams to tune into. Be sure to also check in with your favorite artists on their social media to see who’s throwing an impromptu virtual show!
Remote Listening Parties, Anyone?
If the social distancing is leaving your extrovert batteries drained, hold a remote listening party with your buds! Get on that text thread, conference call, or other technological loophole and hit play at the same time!
Follow Venues and Music Organizations
Things are changing every day, multiple times a day. Keep up with venues and their cancellations via their social media and websites.
If You’re Sick, Stay Home
- Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If not available, use hand sanitizer.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.
- Cover your mouth/nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing.
For more comprehensive advice on how you can do your part to stop the spread of illness, consult this guide from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Make sure you have the information you need to protect yourself and your community by checking in with trusted sources, like the City of Austin website. For more Austin-specific coronavirus news, you can find live updates from our sister-station KUT 90.5 here.