As cities and states continue to shut down all but essential services and the live music industry has essentially ground to a standstill, the music community has been struggling with the loss of work and an uncertain future. On Friday (March 20), dozens of music companies came together to pen a joint letter to Congressional leaders asking for financial assistance, while others have put in place policies and programs aimed at helping artists reach their fans and make up lost revenue.
With touring — often an artist’s most lucrative revenue stream — now on hiatus for the foreseeable future, musicians are now relying more heavily on streaming income as they look to how to pay the bills and keep money coming in. Others are streaming shows and trying to reach fans in other digital ways.
As New York and California both shut down non-essential businesses and institute shelter-in-place recommendations, with no real end in sight, several streaming services are trying to also find additional ways to help the creator communities whose music is the bedrock of their companies.
For some, that has meant something as simple as Apple Music’s main home page featuring a video titled “A Message from the White House Coronavirus Task Force” on its main home page, or Spotify dedicating space on its home page to a link to the CDC’s site providing information on the coronavirus.
“Spotify has always been a place for inspiration, entertainment and education. Our goal is to continue to be all those things, but during these uncertain times, we believe we also have the added responsibility to ensure our users are getting the most up-to-date public health information,” a Spotify spokesperson said in a statement to Billboard. “To accomplish this on a global scale, we’ve activated our platform and made a portion of our ad inventory available for governments and nonprofits to share that information with users around the world. We are also providing direct financial support for these efforts through the CDC Foundation Emergency Response Fund and COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund for WHO.
“There’s no question this is also a challenging time for our creator community and we are working to assist them through MusiCares’ COVID-19 Relief Fund to provide much needed assistance,” the statement continued. “These efforts are only the beginning. We are actively exploring ways to further leverage the Spotify platform for good in the days and weeks ahead.”
Amazon’s vp of music, Steve Boom, is the chair of MusiCares, and the company confirmed to Billboard that Amazon Music will be contributing to its Relief Fund with the Recording Academy. (The service has always been working behind the scenes to help artists set up live streams on Twitch, which its supporting through its own Twitch channel as well.) “We know this fund will need to be significant,” Boom said in a statement announcing the Relief Fund. “We will not be able to do it alone, and that’s why we are asking the entire music community including labels, streaming services, and anyone who is able to join us in this important effort. We’re all in when the good times roll, and it’s important that we’re all in when times are tough, too.”
Bandcamp, on Friday waived its fees — 15% revenue share for digital sales and 10% for merch — to send all money to artists and labels. The platform delivers funds to rights holders within 24-48 hours and pledged. It is working on refining best practices guidance for artists to increase their income during this time with a new Bandcamp Artist Guide, which includes recommendations for maximizing sales on the platform. These may include live recordings and old demos, or artists offering video hangouts, lessons and gear tutorials as merch items. “Over the coming weeks we’ll collect examples of what’s working best and share those here,” Diamond said in an announcement Tuesday, “so if something is especially effective for you or you’re just excited about an idea, please let us know.”
YouTube, the world’s largest streaming service, has put resources behind the Stay Home #WithMe campaign, which it’s also promoting atop its home page, and has been working with its artists and creators on best practices to stream and post videos from home, including going live on its YouTube app or via webcam, and opening up its YouTube Premieres program to allow artists to pre-record a video and then premiere it live along with their fans. In addition to its ad-supported monetization, YouTube also has Superchat, merch and direct donation functions for creators as well.
SoundCloud has been utilizing its blog to help creators find different ways to keep in touch with their fans during the isolation period, including ideas for online collaborations and tips to boost engagement on the platform.
The company also unveiled a new partnership with Twitch, allowing SoundCloud creators to start making money on the platform through its Affiliate program, with Twitch fast-tracking SoundCloud users through the process. Additionally, SoundCloud Pro Unlimited subscriptions will be 50% off through March 30, and the SoundCloud artist relations and marketing teams will be hosting real-time AMAs for creators beginning next week. “We will continue to look for additional ways to support the global SoundCloud community in the weeks ahead,” CEO Kerry Trainor said in an email sent to SoundCloud’s creators today. “This will include financial and promotional support to organizations that provide creator services beyond what we can deliver on SoundCloud.”
Meanwhile, Tidal is also directly looking to fill the void of live shows by moving a series of its live concerts and live streams in front of its paywall, part of an At Home With Tidal program. The live stream, which began this morning, includes footage from Jay Z and Beyoncé’s Tidal X: 10/20 show; performances by Nicki Minaj, Gucci Mane, Rosalia and Travis Scott from Made In America; Alicia Keys, Becky G and A$AP Ferg performances from Tidal X: Rock The Vote; and Dreamville Festival performances from J. Cole, Pusha T, Big Sean, Teyana Taylor and more.
And Deezer has a collection of playlists and podcasts in its new Stay At Home channel designed to help get people through the period of isolation. “We’ve adapted our product so that you can find the right content,” vp content and productions Frédéric Antelme said. “It may be music, podcasts or radio shows, we’ve got you covered so that you and your family can focus on the things that matter.”
This post will be updated as more information becomes available.