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Today is a good day to buy that album you like

Today is a good day to buy that album you like

Bandcamp is giving 100 per cent of their commission directly to artists today to support them during the coronavirus pandemic

TextSelim BulutIllustrationCallum Abbott

For all the talk of the ‘streaming revolution’, the coronavirus pandemic has shown just how much working musicians still rely on IRL engagements to make a living: live shows, radio appearances, record label meetings, studio sessions, etc. Only the luckiest musicians make any meaningful money from their recorded work, and with the ability to travel and hold public gatherings now gone, one of the last viable revenue streams left for artists has dried up almost overnight. As usual, it’s independent musicians who’ll be taking the biggest hit to their finances.

Today, Bandcamp is waiving any commission they’d normally take on music sold through their website. This means that any money from a sale will go directly to the artist and label, and will be paid to them within 48 hours. If there’s a record you’ve been streaming a lot on Spotify that’s available to buy outright on Bandcamp, today is a great day to pick it up. As Bandcamp co-founder Ethan Diamond explained in a statement on the company’s website, “for many artists, a single day of boosted sales can mean the difference between being able to pay rent or not”.

Obviously, this isn’t enough on its own. Scraping together enough money to just about pay your rent isn’t an optimistic long-term vision for music. Other alternatives to touring – like live-streaming digital concerts – are beautiful gestures during this time that nevertheless can’t replace the physical spaces that allow DIY scenes to thrive. The fact that so many musicians have to rely international touring to survive was never going to be sustainable given the looming climate crisis. What COVID-19 has done is throw all of this into sharp relief.

A fiver or a tenner here and there won’t fix everything, nor does it acknowledge the many other workers in the music scene who are going to be impacted by this crisis, from service workers at venues to record store clerks to the contractors who build festival stages and beyond. But it’s a small act of solidarity in a difficult time, and one that’s essential to re-establishing value in music. We can rebuild a better record industry, one that works for all of its artists – but this isn’t going to happen overnight, and they need support right now. So if you have the means to do so, why not buy a couple of things today?