The pandemic has changed everyone's lives, mostly for the worse. A lot of us are suffering from lost wages, but those in the gig economy, especially musicians, have been hit particularly hard.
With gatherings being banned until the health crisis gets under control, restaurants and clubs have closed, leaving nowhere for musicians to play.
Most musicians rely on concerts for a lot of their income, with the ticket and merchandise sales getting them further down the road to their next gig. With no gigs comes no income.
The arts are one of things that has made isolation at home bearable during these difficult times. Many musicians have taken to the internet for virtual concerts from their homes.
Big names like Radiohead have done special concerts for their fans, and Elton John has created a virtual concert series called Living Room Concert for America that raised $8 million for COVID-19 relief.
Even local artists like Sabrina Weeks and Mike Hilliard have been doing regular live concerts on YouTube and Facebook, raising money for the Kamloops Food Bank.
The National Arts Centre of Canada and Facebook Canada have teamed together to offer grants to musicians who are performing live online. They're created a $100,000 pool of grant money that musicians can apply for, $1,000 per grant. Actors and comedians can also tap into the grant money to keep their art going and getting out to their audiences.
Fans can also help musicians by doing something old fashioned: buying music. While we may be turning to the internet to stream our favourite musicians, it's most cost effective for the musicians if you buy their music instead of using an intermediary like a streaming service. Buy their records digitally, or order physical copies for yourself. This gets the money directly to musicians quickly and when they need it the most.
For all that artists do for us, and especially during these times of isolation, we deserve to pay them back for their service. Every book you read, or song you listen to, or movie you watch involved thousands of hours of work and practice. Surely, that effort deserves some payback. Support your local artists so they can continue to help us through tough times, and can continue after those times are over.
Steve Marlow is the program co-ordinator at CFBX, an independent radio station in Kamloops. Tune in at 92.5 FM on the dial or go online to thex.ca.