How To 'Actually' Help Your Musician Friends in 2020

Runway Vertical supporting Storm Riders, a local teenage rock band in Ibiza - February 2020 (Pic by Ryan Koriya)

Happy New Decade!

As 2020 kicks into life, one thing is still quite obvious to me, and that is musicians are finding it hard to keep up with the new 'Wild West' of the arts world, never mind the music fans knowing what's what!

The current Coronavirus outbreak isn't helping either, as scores of artists around the world are now unable to play their usual paid live shows amidst international quarantines. Then there are the travel complications to be expected with the new Brexit/EU laws across Europe. This only drives home the point of how crucial it is for artists to have online income strategies in today's digital world. We've shared some helpful tips on how to make the most of the current mayhem, check it out HERE

How To Actually Help Artists in 2020

If you are a music fan, the chances are you personally know, or are related to an artist who you would love to see doing their 'mostest' to a sold-out crowd, no matter the venue size. 

Maybe you've even asked them the brilliant question... 'How do we help you succeed?'

This is indeed a great question and I would love to hear what answers come back from artists when presented with the all powerful 'what can I do for you?'

Feel free to let us know in the comments. That's a great way for us to really start helping and presenting actionable solutions.

'How do we help you succeed?'

The truth is, lots of artists don't have a good answer to such a question. Some may typically say something along the lines of...

  • I need a record deal
  • I need a manager
  • I need a booking agent
  • I need radio play

So how do you, as a friend or a fan, help an artist with any of the above?

Actually, all of the above statements come from an outdated mindset, but more on that later.

Maybe you actually do know a record label executive, a booking agent, a music manager or a radio DJ.

Whether you do or don't, probably won't make much of a difference, as any one of these people gets approached by the masses on the weekly and sadly, most likely can't actually help!

Here's why...

The best way to help an independent artist in 2020 is actually in your hands!
Yes, you, the friend or fan have become more important in launching a musician's career than ever before.

Let's look at the list again with that in mind...

  • Record labels tend to sign artists who already have loads of engaging fans.
  • Music managers tend to work with artists already making money (from paying fans) so they can also get paid with a manager's fee from a percentage of the income.
  • Booking agents mostly need to book artists in their venue who are going to bring paying fans (ie: you) through the door.
  • Radio stations tend to playlist acts that are already creating a buzz or whose fans (you) keep requesting their music.

The list goes on but just to get the ball rolling, a few major ways to help your favourite independent artists are...

  1. Engage with and share their music and online content (earnestly). This is how the industry players who can help are going to a) discover them in the first place and b) see how well they are already doing in terms of commanding an audience. The data does all the talking these days.

    Plus there's nothing worse for independent artists to see their friends and family sharing 'shock factor' viral videos of terrible singers or successful major artists while their own posts go un-shared. Especially if their content is actually good.
  2. Actually go to their gigs to help them build a reputation for great live shows and demonstrate their pulling power, all for obvious reasons. In 2020 and possibly beyond, that would likely be buying tickets to live streamed events and interacting with their videos during the show and afterwards, if you catch the replay.
  3. Spend money on them! Pay for gig tickets (in person or live streams), buy/stream their music and purchase their merchandise.
    (Asking to be on the free guest list for every show is just keeping the artist broke and dooming them to the underground scene for years to come).

    If you're always broke then being good at tip number one costs nothing and still creates value for the artist.

  4. Help them stay informed and up to date with what actually works currently in terms of which actions to take and which strategies to spend time on!

    This could be by forwarding them useful articles (like this one) and industry tips that you may come across, or by gifting them with an online course, a musicians conference ticket or one-on-one time with an industry professional who knows about the new music business.

    This is crucial! Following the wrong advice can cost an artist a lot more than you'd imagine.

    I highly recommend the annual CD Baby DIY Musician's Conference in The US and in Europe. They are great places for an artist or music manager to learn how to empower themselves and also great for meeting fellow driven musopreneurs which is just as important. The best thing is CD Baby tickets are very affordable. A powerful and thoughtful gift for an artist. The next one should be in Summer 2021.

    Rebecca Smart Bakken is a great music marketing professional that your artist friends can follow for free marketing advice online. She even has a free strategy on how to release new music in the current digital economy.

  5. Put up the artist when they are on tour. Accommodation and living expenses can be the 'make or break' of a tour actually happening. Hopefully artists will be able to tour again in 2021.
  6. Host a house concert for the artist if you have the space. This can be a cost effective way for them to tour and make new fans (ie: your friends and family), all while you score coolness points for providing such an awesome intimate experience with a usually hard-to-access performer.

    Some fans even hire out a local hall or bar to host the artist. Not to mention that this will allow you to enjoy your favourite indie artist's performance for free whilst providing them with value at the same time!

  7. Sponsor or fund the artist with occasional or monthly payments, big or small, in exchange for exclusive access and content. Sites like Patreon allow for huge success stories such as Pentatonix and Walk Off The Earth both of whom you will certainly have seen in action by now. 

    Pentatonix are currently raising just under $13 000 per video on their Patreon site. This is fully fan-driven income and is only one of their many revenue streams. They have even won three Grammys to date and got re-signed.

    They had actually been dropped from their record label early on in 2011 and then went on to use YouTube to launch their career into the stratosphere. Again, driving home the point that what really matters in 2020 is fueling the relationship between the musicians and their fans.


Pentatonix have high quality fan-funded music videos like this medley of Daft Punk songs

You can be as creative as you like with all of the above tips to help artists you support.

You can be creative in a dozen of other ways which will help the artist get better at their craft and also connect them with even more dedicated fans. The bottom line is, the musicians can't do it all on their own and  they need your help.

Tip number four is probably the most important of them all as the music world has changed so much and the artists who are keeping themselves informed are the ones seeing the success.

(Edit October 2020: You may have seen Kanye West being the latest of major label artists fighting to get back the rights to their own music, others you may remember doing the same are Prince and Taylor Swift)...

Getting a record deal isn't even the goal for most entrepreneurial musicians today for the following reasons and more...

  • Owning your music and copyrights means you make the profit instead of getting a small percentage from a label. This is especially powerful if you create a successful indie career which is very doable in the digital age.
  • You maintain creative control over your music and your brand.
  • You choose where, when and how you wish to create and perform.

There are lots more reasons but one thing is for sure. The music industry has changed and rules that applied in the past don't apply anymore. You will see more and more artists catching onto this by empowering themselves and learning how to market directly to their fans, so help them get caught up with the current business aspects of the industry.

Then you can one day enjoy the privilege of personally knowing the kick-ass musician onstage and feeling like you've been part of the journey from the start.

Through the days of open mic nights, playing small (often empty or noisy) venues, all the way to hopefully enjoying the VIP access in awesome theatres or arenas! 

If you'd like me to elaborate on any of the above tips with their own dedicated blog post... let me know by commenting on our Instagram or our Facebook.

I'd like to write along the lines of what you guys find more useful and interesting.  


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Give An Artist You Know A Supercharge

If you know an artist in need of help in terms of finding out what will work for them in 2020, you can also gift them an RV Career Supercharge Masterclass which includes a free 15 minute video call to assess which part of the package will be most valuable at this point in their career. To find out more, click here: Musicians Career Supercharge

Every artist is different, so taking on a unique approach to building a career in music is key.