Helping musicians stay afloat while we’re all drowning in the fight against coronavirus

by Nick Gonzales

Unless you’re just coming out of a coma, you probably already know: Everything sucks right now. COVID-19 is taking its toll on humanity, bringing down our collective morale and hurting millions of people financially.

Among all the industries taking a hit are the performing arts. Whether you’re on Broadway or playing weeknights at the local pub, gigs and tours are canceled. And if you rely on those to survive, like many a local musician, you’re probably wondering how you’re going to sustain yourself until the end of the crisis.

In Durango, the iAM Music Institute is creating the Four Corners Performing Artist Relief fund through GoFundMe. As soon as it has raised at least $2,000, musicians within 100 miles of Durango will be able to apply for financial help, says Alissa Wolf, executive director of iAM Music.

“They’ll basically fill out the application and explain to us how many gigs are canceled, how much they normally rely on gig income versus how much they had as a loss because of this so far,” she says. “And then … based on need, we’ll start allocating money to musicians in the Four Corners as much as we can as it comes in.”

[html:2]In the meantime, the institute itself, which provides music lessons and hosts events to showcase local musicians, is closing its doors and is looking to move as much online as possible. This may involve not only online lessons, but a series of virtual student showcases, a digital continuation of iAM’s songwriting nights and the like, Wolf said. Like many nonprofits, iAM is doing everything it can to avoid laying off employees.

In general, she says, there are a number of things that bands can be doing to connect with audiences and the money they’re losing out on during the coronavirus scare.

The Stillhouse Junkies, the roots band for which Wolf plays fiddle, for example, is launching a Patreon service that fans can to subscribe to for exclusive content and perks. The band, which was supposed to head overseas for a tour through the United Kingdom, is also planning to host a virtual show at 5 p.m. March 25 through Facebook Live (admission is free, but donations will be accepted).

Performing online not only puts musicians out there, but also keeps the rest of us sane by giving us art to fill our souls in a time too many are trapped at home binging Netflix.

Fans of musicians can help them out by straight-up donating to them.

“If you know a musician, and they’re struggling, and this goes on for more than another month, maybe throw them a gift card or 50 bucks cash,” Wolf says.

Buying their music and merch also can’t hurt. Neither can the simple act of not asking for a refund.

“If you bought tickets to shows, a lot of venues are saying, instead of asking for a refund, donate your ticket if you can afford to … because it either goes to the artist or it goes to the venue,” Wolf says.

If nothing else, just be careful and follow the rules to avoid the spread of the coronavirus.

“The sooner we can get over the hump, the sooner musicians can go back to work,” she says, exasperated. “But if people keep being idiots … and people are ignoring the rules, they’re going to keep spreading this shit, and it’s going to elongate into the summer, which is going to affect festivals. … People, can you just be smart please?”

Nick Gonzales


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