Support music in the time of Coronavirus

Touring is the lifeblood of all musicians, and live music is cancelled for the moment. But there are other ways to help the bands you love.

We’re already seeing the effects of Coronavirus on the music industry. SXSW was cancelled, imperiling so many in Austin who count on the uptick in business. Coachella has been moved to October. Berghain is shutting down for a month. Pearl Jam’s Ottawa and Quebec City dates were turfed. Our very own Wolf Parade’s European tour was postponed, and many cancellations are coming.

The music industry is screwed up enough on a good day. It forces artists to gas up their vans and live on the road to make ends meet because recorded music has been completely devalued. Now Coronavirus has put touring and concerts — the lifeblood of any artist today — on hold. Of course, artists have bills to pay in the meantime, and they’re not getting extensions from their landlords and phone companies.

It’s bad enough that we live in a society where people are afraid to take work off because they might get fired, so they’re forced to come in sick and endanger everyone around them.

Musicians have it hard enough

Something like Coronavirus also exposes how poorly we treat artists, most of whom barely eke out a living despite the joy and lasting memories they bring to people.

A cancelled tour also doesn’t just mean a loss of future income — artists have already incurred costs in preparation for hitting the road, and they won’t be getting their money back.

And once Coronavirus is in the rearview, perhaps we’ll be in a recession where, you guessed it, people have to cut back on entertainment spending like live music.

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Wolf Parade tour postponed (Support music in the time of Coronavirus)

To ensure that the important music ecosystem in Montreal withstands a blow like this, do something a little old-school: if you like an artist’s music, go buy it. Go to a record shop and support the artist and a local business in one fell swoop. Or stay home and hit up Bandcamp. We’re now 20 years into the age of illegal downloading and well into the streaming age, so you’ve been conditioned to think $10 or $20 is too much to spend on music, let alone $40 for a vinyl. It’s simply not true. You won’t regret dropping some hard-earned cash on a piece of music you truly love.

Streaming is messing with you

There’s still value in collecting and possessing music. I won’t deny that streaming services have plenty to choose from, but there’s nothing stopping them from removing a record you like in the future, like Netflix does with movies and TV shows. The endless possibilities of streaming have also messed up your brain.

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Streaming is messing with you (Support music in the time of Coronavirus)

You’ve probably got a queue with a million new songs to listen to, but the algorithm keeps sending you back to the same albums over and over.

You listen to new tracks and forget them an hour later because you’ve been bombarded with another batch of new cuts.

You’ve got a dozen half-done playlists on your account. Or worse, you’ve given up and just listen to thoughtlessly compiled mood lists for productivity or chill hangs etc. It all becomes a little disposable after a while.

Owning and cataloguing your music in a way that’s personal will deepen your connection to it. You’ll appreciate it more.

And then when things return to relative normalcy, keep buying music. Uber Eats charges, what, a $4 fee per use? Walk to the pizza place and drop that cash on music. It’s worth it. ■

For more coverage of the Montreal music scene, see our Music section.

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