Ways to Ask For Financial Help Now – Keep Your Career Going

The team here at MusicRow411 reads tons of Music Industry publications daily to keep you up to date with the latest and most helpful information.  There is no way any of us can know everything that is going on, but we try to bring you what we feel are vetted and excellent items of interest that can help you and your career.

Because we are in unprecedented times, we feel it is important to share information with you that comes from a trusted source.  That’s why we are sharing a comprehensive article by Dave Cool that appeared on the BANDZOOGLE site and has been shared in a variety of places because of it’s many resources.

We’ve edited out information that is no longer current and hope you find to your benefit. It is long, but you will see the value once you read on.  Many helpful links are included in this article.  We have boldfaced some things to make it a bit easier.


By Dave Cool

The situation around the coronavirus pandemic is changing by the hour, let alone by the day. 

Performing artists, and bands to make money  No one knows when things will be back to pre-COVID19 operations.

Use your email list and social media to ask for help

Some music fans have the impression that all musicians are rock stars living out lavish lives. As you know, this is simply not the case for the overwhelming majority of artists who rely on regular gigs just to make ends meet.

So don’t assume fans know that you need support. There’s no shame in letting them know that this is a potential crisis for you and your financial well-being. Leverage the online tools you have to communicate that you need their support now more than ever.

Send a dedicated email blast with specific actions your fans can take to help you. You should also take to social media to share the same information, and ask your fans to share your posts and help you spread the word.

Here are some of the best ways for fans to support musicians during the COVID-19 pandemic.

1. Buy your music

If you have music for sale, whether it’s digital downloads or CDs, let your fans know where they can purchase it. Even if they prefer to stream music, they might still buy your music to support you. 

You should also let them know that while streams and playlists are great, streaming revenue is measured in fractions of pennies and it takes a lot of time to accumulate to anything meaningful. Directly purchasing your music means much more money in your pocket — when you need it most.

Where should fans buy your music to maximize revenue?

  1. Bandzoogle: If you have your website on Bandzoogle, you can sell your music with zero commission on music sales. The money goes from the fan’s account directly into the artist’s account, minus only the processing fees from PayPal or Stripe.
  2. CD Baby: CD Baby’s retail store takes 9% of digital sales and $4 from CD sales (for fulfillment).
  3. Bandcamp: It’s free to set up an account, but they keep *15% of sales. (*this Friday, March 20th they will waive their revenue share)
  4. iTunes, Amazon, Google: These popular online retailers take a much higher percentage of music sales (iTunes take 30%), but may be the most comfortable option for your fans if they’re already used to buying from those stores. 

2. Use pay-what-you-want

Bandzoogle or Bandcamp allow you can take advantage of “pay-what-you-want” pricing. So instead of selling individual tracks for $1 or albums for $10, you can set a minimum price and let fans know that they can pay as much as they want for your music.

This can be a great way to let fans support you even more while purchasing your music. When you set the price, that’s as much as you can get. But when you give fans the option to add more, there’s a good chance that you’ll make much more revenue, especially if your fans know that you need their support.

3. Buy your merch 

Have any band merch in stock? Let your fans know that buying a T-shirt, poster, hat, or guitar pick would also really help out. You can sell merch directly with Bandzoogle, and through Bandcamp. 

Note: You may want to give your fans a heads up to expect shipping delays due to the pandemic, but that you’ll get everything mailed out as soon as things are more under control. 

4. Pre-order your album

If you were planning to release new music sometime this year, now might be a good time to launch the pre-order. Even if you don’t have all of the tracks mapped out, you can create some artwork for the album and set up a pre-order campaign through your  website. Just be sure to be honest about the timeline for the new music to be released, and explain why you’re launching the pre-order early.

5. Contribute to your crowdfunding campaign

If you want to take the pre-order strategy even further, consider planning out and launching an extended crowdfunding campaign. This way you can offer not only your music for pre-sale, but other deluxe packages and rewards for your fans.

Generic crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter and Indiegogo are also solid options, but you’ll need to factor in the percentage they take out from the money you raise (5% + processing fees). 

6. Subscribe to your online fan club

An online fan club — where people pay a monthly fee in exchange for exclusive rewards and access to your music — is a great way to let fans support you on an ongoing basis. You can set up fan subscriptions directly through your website on Bandzoogle, and all the revenues are commission-free.

Here are some resources to help you get your fan club set up:

If you’re already using a service like Patreon, this is a great time to remind fans about the rewards you’re offering and encourage them to become a patron.

7. Make a donation through your website

Add donation button on your homepage

Include a message about any canceled shows, and that you likely won’t be able to play gigs for the next few months. Be sure to emphasize that any amount helps if they’re able to donate.

Sell music, merch, and tickets, take direct donations, pledges for crowdfunding, and create monthly fan subscriptions from your website, all commission-free. 

8. Live stream concerts

Between tours getting canceled and local venues closing until further notice, many musicians are turning to live streaming shows from their homes and rehearsal spaces. It could be as simple as using Facebook Live or Instagram Live, then asking fans to make donations through your website, Venmo, or PayPal.

YouTube Live allows you to broadcast for free, but their terms of service seem to indicate that selling or monetizing live streams outside of YouTube is prohibited. (If anyone can provide more clarity about this, please leave a comment below.)

StageIt is a great choice if you’re looking to sell tickets and accept tips during your performance. (They also recently announced that they’re upping artist payouts to 80%.)

Consider looking into Twitch as well if you’re interested in streaming shows, rehearsals, songwriting sessions, Q&As, and more. Those live streams can be monetized through tips/donations, subscriptions, and even sponsorships.   

If you plan on doing a lot of live streaming in the upcoming months, it might be worth investing in a paid platform that can give you more options, like selling tickets and putting the videos behind a paywall:

  • Zoom (free for 40 minutes up to 100 participants + paid options)
  • Crowdcast ($30/month)
  • Vimeo ($75/month)
  • Dacast (monthly or per-event pricing available) 
  • BoxCast ($119/month)

Further live streaming resources

If you have fan subscriptions on your website (or plan to set it up soon), you might be looking to offer exclusive virtual concerts for your subscribers.

We’d recommend investing in a platform like Crowdcast or Vimeo, and embedding the live video stream on a paywall page. Just give your subscribers the link and let them know the date and time for the event.

9. Take online music lessons

If you feel comfortable teaching your musical skills online, offering lessons is a fun and unique way for fans to support you, while also getting something of tremendous value in return.

You can teach via Skype, Google Hangouts, or even offer group lessons using one of the paid streaming platforms we mentioned above. You can have people pay you for sessions directly through your website’s store or on PayPal.

Our friend Bree Noble of Female Entrepreneur Musician is very passionate about this potential revenue stream for artists, especially when it comes to earning passive income from online courses. She recommends checking out Reach Summit, a free online conference hosted by Teachable, where artists and creators learn how to put together an online course and monetize it.

Bonus: other ways to support

Countless industries and livelihoods are being affected right now, and the reality is that not all of your fans will have the capacity to support you financially during this pandemic. 

Feel free to suggest small gestures like these that are still helpful, even just for boosting morale and showing solidarity with artists:

  • Play and share your music with their friends 
  • Make a playlist of your music and share it with their friends
  • Add your music to their existing playlists 
  • Play and share your videos with their friends
  • Like/follow/subscribe to all of your online profiles
  • Send an encouraging note to you and their other favorite artists 

Credit to Kevin Breuner from CD Baby for many of the suggestions above!

Helpful resources for musicians 

We want to thank our friends at Folk Alliance for sharing this list of resources for freelance artists dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic and loss of revenues. Folk Alliance are also co-hosting a free webinar on March 18 called “We Are Stronger Together: Navigating Crises and Sustaining Healthy Relationships in the Era of Coronavirus

CD Baby published these Resources for musicians during the COVID-19 pandemic 

Some great advice in this post from Ari Herstand: 9 Things To Do Now That Your Gigs Are Cancelled Because of Coronavirus

Bandsintown post on communicating with fans about cancelled gigs: How To Keep In Touch With Fans During These Difficult Times

Music Managers Forum Canada is constantly updating this list of resources: COVID-19 Updates

Here’s a list of resources for Canadian musicians from the Unison Benevolent Fund in Canada.

Sound Royalties announced a new $20m fund from which music creators impacted by coronavirus can get no-fee royalty advances.

The Recording Academy and its charitable foundation MusiCares have established the COVID-19 Relief Fund

If you’re looking to record, mix, and collaborate remotely with other musicians right now, Sessionwire is currently offering free 60 day account passes with unlimited access. Details on their Facebook page.

Take 20 seconds and enter the Free Ultimate Songwriters Sweepstakes! Over $35k of total prizes are being offered to help you with your career and learn during this time at home.  Enter here to register for free.