Now that the coronavirus pandemic has forced a virtual shutdown of cities across the U.S., people nationwide are taking a massive financial and emotional hit from the growing outbreak.
The music industry is no exception, with venues shuttered, artist tours derailed and major festivals postponed or cancelled altogether. With desperation increasing by the day, agencies, promoters and more have announced initiatives to help ease the burden on workers.
Some companies are focusing on employees who have lost income due to COVID-19, others are assisting musicians whose gigs have been cancelled or postponed and still more are emphasizing the health and safety of frontline healthcare workers and others who have been most directly affected by the crisis.
Below we’ve compiled a rundown of music companies who have pledged their support during this time of unprecedented societal upheaval. The list will be continually updated as we receive more information.
Amazon Music has contributed to MusiCares’ COVID-19 relief fund; contributed to the Academy of Country Music’s Lifting Lives COVID-19 Response Fund supporting industry professionals affected by the coronavirus; and worked with Megan Thee Stallion to make a financial donation to a nursing home in the hip-hop artist’s hometown of Houston.
Apple Music has created a $50 million advance fund to help independent labels and distributors during the downturn, sources have told Billboard. Labels and distributors that earn over $100,000 in quarterly revenue from Apple Music and have a direct distribution deal with the company are eligible to receive a one-time advanced payment on future royalties. The streaming service has additionally sourced and donated over 20 million masks to healthcare workers in the U.S. and has been manufacturing 1 million face shields a week. It also launched a COVID-19 screening app for the U.S. and donated $15 million to coronavirus relief efforts.
The online music platform, which waived its revenue share for digital sales and merchandise on March 20 and sent that money to artists and labels, will do so again on May 1, June 5 and July 3. It is also offering a Bandcamp Artist Guide that shows artists how to maximize their sales on the platform.
Events discovery and marketing platform Bandsintown is offering artists who have registered with Bandsintown for Artists free access to Twitch’s monetization tools. Beginning this week, artists with more than 2,000 followers on Bandsintown Concerts will be able to monetize their live-stream performances on Twitch via paid fan subscriptions, with fans who tune in being given the option of purchasing virtual “tips” known as Bits. Artists can learn more about the opportunity here.
Bandsintown is additionally hosting a virtual music marathon on its Twitch channel on Thursday (March 26) and Friday (March 27) for eight hours each day, with all donations going to the MusiCares COVID-19 Relief Fund. The company will also be holding “mini marathons” featuring two to three acts every Thursday over the next several weeks.
Beggars Group contributed to Spotify’s COVID-19 Music Relief fundraiser benefitting MusiCares.
Big Machine Distillery in Tennessee — owned by Big Machine Label Group president and CEO Scott Borchetta and his brother Mark — is helping craft and distribute hand sanitizer for the community. On March 27, hand sanitizer made at the distillery’s Lynnville and Berry Hill locations was donated to local first responders. The company used the World Health Organization’s formula to ensure compliance with industry safety and efficacy standards. Complimentary 50 ml bottles of sanitizer are available for curb-side pickup and delivery customers. Larger quantities can also be purchased online.
BMI pushed its scheduled quarterly distribution by several days, helping its songwriter, composer and publisher members receive their royalties faster. The performance rights organization has also created the BMI Resource Center, which provides royalty information, resources for financial assistance and benefits, tips for staying creative and more.
Through its CAA Foundation, the powerhouse agency co-conceived #FirstRespondersFirst, an initiative to provide first responder healthcare workers with physical and psychological resources as they help fight the pandemic. In partnership with the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and behavior change technology company Thrive Global, #FirstRespondersFirst will launch a fundraiser to help address shortages of personal protective supplies and equipment for frontline healthcare workers while also providing access to online workshops, virtual training, coaching, and content to help improve their psychological well-being. CAA will also utilize its relationships with cultural influencers to help raise awareness around the needs of healthcare workers during the pandemic.
The company has put together a landing page that makes all of Downtown’s in-house coronavirus-related materials and resources publicly available to other companies that wish to use it. The site includes a list of industry-specific resources for creators, links to mental health information, guidelines on remote work and more. Anyone interested in gaining access can use the email on the landing page to request a password.
With Gibson’s facilities in Nashville and Montana shut down due to the pandemic, the guitar maker is providing all of its hourly factory workers with a $1,000 support payment to help them through the crisis. The company has also launched Gibson HomeMade, a global program that will stream original full-length performances by Gibson, Epiphone and Kramer artists to support their current projects while they’re homebound. Additionally, Gibson formed a partnership with its Gibson Gives foundation, Sweetwater.com and Amped Guitar Learning to offer three free months of Premium Access Membership to new users of Amped Guitar Learning in a “limited quantity.”
The independent concert promotion and production company has launched the I.M.P. Family Fund to assist the company’s hourly employees who have been put out of work by the pandemic. When people buy an I.M.P. gift card for future shows, food and beverages, the company will match that amount via a donation to the fund; I.M.P.’s salaried staff also have the option of donating a portion of their salaries to the company’s hourly workers.
I.M.P. will also pay the employee portion of company health insurance premiums for hourly workers while venues remain closed; give customers the option of donating their refunds for cancelled or postponed shows to the fund; establish a food pantry at I.M.P.’s Washington D.C. venue 9:30 Club for hourly employees; and offer hourly employees the opportunity to work on alternative projects while venues remain closed.
The audio equipment manufacturer has donated headphones to schools in seven cities through the organization Little Kids Rock in order to support virtual online classes and free streaming music lessons. JBL brand ambassadors, including New York Yankees player Aaron Judge and Priyanka Chopra Jonas, will be helping with the initiative and announcing donation details on their Instagram channels. More information can also be found on JBL’s Instagram account.
Live Nation has established the Crew Nation fund to help support concert crews around the world. The fund will provide monetary relief for concert crew members impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The live entertainment giant has committed $10 million to Crew Nation – contributing an initial $5 million to the fund, then matching the next $5 million given by artists, fans and employees dollar for dollar. Crew Nation is powered by Music Forward Foundation, a charitable 501c3 organization, that will be administering the fund.
The streaming company has launched LÜM Cares, an initiative that will allow artists on the platform to receive direct financial support from their fans using an in-app currency called Notes (each of which is equivalent to the financial value of a single stream). The service’s direct-to-artist virtual gifting system launched prior to the pandemic in January, but LÜM is now enhancing the impact of that program by giving all fans and artists on the platform 200 Notes for free. LÜM will also match 20% of all Notes purchased, with the amount being deposited directly into the purchaser’s LÜM “wallet” as a thank you.
For the next three months, the DJ-centric streaming service Mixcloud is waiving its revenue share for the recently-launched Mixcloud SELECT platform, a fan subscription service that allows listeners to support creators for a monthly fee. 100% of the income from these subscriptions will go to SELECT channel creators after the underlying artists and songwriters played in the shows have been paid. The company is additionally offering a three-month trial of Mixcloud PRO, which will allow creators to turn on SELECT for their channels and monetize their content for free.
Beginning tomorrow (March 28), the synth manufacturer will be livestreaming performances, Q&A sessions, synth demos and tutorials, and more on its Instagram page in a new series entitled “Synthesize Live.” People can receive notifications about upcoming streams by signing up for Moog’s email newsletter and enabling push notifications from their Instagram accounts. Additionally, the company is enabling free downloads of its Minimoog sound app for iOS.
The classical music streaming service has committed to donating £8,500 ($10,426 USD) to Help Musicians UK’s Coronavirus Financial Hardship Fund and New Music USA’s New Music Solidarity Fund. It will additionally donate £8.50 ($10.43 USD) for every new user who signs up for two months of Primephonic, free of charge, using the voucher code ‘KEEPPLAYING.’ The company hopes to raise a total of £85,000 ($104,265 USD).
PRS for Music
British collecting society PRS For Music has launched the PRS Emergency Relief Fund to support members affected by the pandemic. The effort is a partnership between the PRS Members’ Fund and the PRS Foundation and will got to members facing financial hardship due to loss of earning opportunities due to the virus. Members can apply for a grant here.
Music service Qobuz has announced that it is waiving its revenue share on all download sales, passing 100% of this revenue through to the rightsholders beginning March 27. The ‘Gimme Shelter’ program is currently scheduled to last through April 26.
Quality Control Music
The Atlanta-based record label donated $100,000 to Goodr, an Atlanta company that collects surplus food from restaurants to distribute to the needy. The funds will allow Goodr to provide free grocery deliveries to up to 1,000 local families — who can apply on the Goodr website — with a preference for families with children or seniors.
Royalty Exchange is challenging other music companies to cut the time they typically take to pay artists in half, as well as to alter any revenue share with artists by 30% in the artist’s favor for the next 90 days. To help set a precedent, the royalty platform has committed to reducing the amount of time it takes the company to distribute royalties from 30 days to 15, and to reduce its standard commission on sales from 15% to 10% for 90 days beginning April 1.
Through its Sennheiser SoundAcademy, the audio electronics company is now offering free pro audio training webinars and product demonstrations for music professionals during the crisis. A full list of forthcoming webinars, including registration links, is available here.
SiriusXM and Pandora contributed to MusiCares’ COVID-19 relief fund.
Sofar Sounds is advancing a full show payment to all artists who had a Sofar event canceled and plans to reschedule all the cancelled events. Sofar is also establishing a fund with an initial goal of $250,000, which will be focused on providing direct financial support to the artists who rely on Sofar and other local gigs to make a living. The company’s city teams all around the world are pulling together local resources and information for artists affected by COVID-19, covering topics from healthcare to relief fund applications.
Songtradr has made a commitment to increasing the revenue of artists during the pandemic by giving them 100% of licensing fees on any new transaction through April 18. Additionally, the company has made its distribution services entirely free through September 30, 2020.
On Thursday (April 2) the Tokyo-based conglomerate launched a $100 million fund to support frontline medical professionals and first responders; children and educators who must work remotely; and members of the entertainment creative community affected by the coronavirus crisis. It will additionally match donations to select COVID-19 relief funds made by its employees worldwide.
To assist music creators impacted by the coronavirus, the music-centric finance firm has dedicated $20 million to offer a no-cost royalty advance funding option on every new application through May 16, or until the fund is depleted. Creators with royalty income can apply for cash advances on a one-year repayment schedule with no fees or costs attached, with terms extending beyond one year also being made available.
Through a new agreement with Twitch, SoundCloud users can now utilize Twitch’s Affiliate program, allowing them to garner additional income during the shutdown. Additionally, SoundCloud Pro Unlimited subscriptions will be 50% off through March 30, while the SoundCloud artist relations and marketing teams will be hosting real-time AMAs for creators. The company also plans on providing financial and promotional support to organizations offering additional creator services.
Spotify is providing direct financial support to the CDC Foundation Emergency Response Fund and the World Health Organization’s COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund to help spread information about the coronavirus, and is additionally making a portion of its ad inventory available for governments and nonprofits to share that information with users globally. The company also contributed to MusiCares’ COVID-19 relief fund. Additionally, on March 25 Spotify launched its COVID-19 Music Relief fundraising site, through which the company will match donations to organizations helping musicians in need dollar-for-dollar, for up to a total Spotify contribution of $10 million. The company is now working on a new Spotify For Artists tool that would allow artists to fundraise directly from fans on the platform.
In addition to sending face masks from the company’s factory to hospitals in need, the piano manufacturer has set up a number of free webinars for the piano teaching community. The first, held Thursday (March 26), attracted an estimated 1,000 piano teachers. You can find more information on upcoming webinars at the company’s official website.
Symphonic has set up a page on their website to help supplement the income of independent artists and record labels affected by the pandemic. Each time the page is refreshed, a link to donate to a different artist or record label will appear (Symphonic notes it will not be taking a cut of donations). Artists interested in being featured can are being invited to apply.
Tidal is moving a number of its live concerts and live streams in front of the paywall as part of a program entitled At Home With Tidal. The service additionally contributed to MusiCares’ COVID-19 relief fund.
The video-sharing app has pledged a total of $375 million to COVID-19 relief efforts, including a direct donation to The Recording Academy’s MusiCares Foundation COVID-19 relief fund; the establishment of a $150 million TikTok Health Heroes Relief Fund to support medical workers; $40 million in cash to local organizations, including $2 million for music workers who have lost jobs due to the pandemic; $50 million in grants to help educators, experts and non-profits support distance-learning efforts; $100 million in ad credits to small and medium-sized businesses affected by closures; and $25 million in “prominent in-feed ad space” for nonprofits and local authorities. It is also matching employee contributions to organizations including Direct Relief and The Red Cross, and matching an additional $10 million in donations to support artists and music professionals.
The online recording studio and music publisher has cut prices for its music production services by 50% without reducing payouts to session musicians. Note that the discount is limited to a maximum of three projects per client and that Tunedly Dollars cannot be used to pay for the half-price productions.
Universal Music Group
The music group has rolled out a multi-million dollar initiative to support its artists, songwriters and employees. Its new UMG All Together Now Foundation for employees facing hardship brought on by the virus includes enhanced HR offerings and other programs, as well as the commitment that any employees who cannot work remotely will not see their pay change through June 30. The company is also offering a suite of economic flexibility initiatives for its artists and assorted companies, like interest-free royalty advances and fee waivers. It is donating directly to MusiCares’ COVID-19 Relief Fund and Help Musicians UK, and will match donations that U.S. employees make to those organizations. Finally, it is backing several initiatives and projects from its artists and labels — for example, Billie Eilish released a downloadable coloring book to raise money for Unicef.
For a limited time, the online ticket marketplace will donate 10% of every Vivid Seats gift card purchase to MusiCares’ COVID-19 Relief Fund, while tacking an extra 10% credit onto the gift cards’ value as a thank you to its customers.
To help combat the growing pandemic, YouTube launched StayHome #WithMe, a campaign highlighting content by creators who have found unique ways to encourage people to “stay home and save lives.” The company is also working to provide all creators and music partners with access to features that enable alternative sources of revenue, including merchandise and commerce products such as Super Chat. Creators now also have the option of setting up donations for a coronavirus-related charity of their choice via YouTube Giving. Additionally, the company has contributed to MusiCares’ COVID-19 relief fund, and it has expanded its YouTube Premieres program, which allows creators to pre-record a video and premiere it live along with their fans.