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Giving Back: Helping Artists Survive the Apocalypse

They tour endlessly, and show themselves more to us than their own families.

Obituary fought against limitations and cancellations to finish their 2020 Winter Tour. (Photo: Jake Sanders)

We live in unsettling times.

In what was supposed to be one of the most promising spring seasons in years for the music community, concertgoers worldwide have watched in increasing disappointment as their favorite artists and festivals have been forced to cancel, or postpone. The venues themselves, having been put in a difficult position as small businesses, are taking drastic measures in order to remain open until the lock-downs and isolation period finally come to an end.

Undoubtedly, you've seen the messages flood your inbox with an almost clinical indifference now. Heartfelt, slightly tone-deaf brands appealing to you using phrases such as ‘In light of recent events’, ‘Due to COVID-19’, and ‘we want to assure you’, all while asking that you still keep coming out, buy from pickup points and online ordering, and continue to step out just as often for food and fun as you did before.

The messages that strike a chord here at Heaviest of Art however, are the ones that we recognize were difficult to send. Bands who prepared for months before their tours only to have it ripped away from them in hours are in serious trouble. Many of them going into debt in the process — these artists have had travel plans cancelled, orders fulfilled for no reason, some making minimal use of transportation that they were aboard when said tours were promptly buried. These bands are now reaching out to their fans through social media accounts and e-mail to request some assistance. Selling merch with dates that never happened or have yet to pass, though, is a hard pill to swallow.

Sure — they'll sell some of it. They'll be able to recoup a small part of those losses, but realistically, many of them will be left tens of thousands of dollars in debt through no fault of their own. That's the kind of devastating hit that forces artists to make the difficult choice of continuing to support their passion, or focusing on survival at all costs, even when that cost is the music itself.

That's where we come in.

As fans of Heavy Metal, we often spend an absurd amount of money to make our way to these shows. Whether it's in ticket prices (and their ridiculously inflated fees), gasoline, bus fare, airfare, or simply in money to buy a souvenir, we usually do more to help a band in a single show than they make in several months on a streaming service. We're dedicated, and media outlets have taken notice of the will of Metalheads to support their chosen artists.

Several digital/physical mediums have stepped forward to help out bands in this trying time. Bandcamp has announced that this Friday, March 20th, they'll be waiving their revenue share for all sales to help out bands affected by the pandemic. That's doing a lot in a big way and we applaud their efforts.

We can do more.

While it's easy to talk, we understand the harsh realities of living in a time where funds are uncertain and futures are in the air. If you're one of those families living paycheck to paycheck in a difficult situation, streaming music is a fantastic way to support artists; after all, every little bit counts and that adds up to a significant contribution over time. We're only asking that you take that one step further for the bands you love the most.

Everyone has that band. The one you can't get out of your head. The riffs that make your hands do ridiculous movements and the hair on your neck stand up. As fans, we develop these profound emotional attachments to artists that inspire us to do more — to be more than we are. Maybe their music just allowed you to persevere through one of the most difficult times of your life? If they did, this is the greatest opportunity you have to thank them.

It's time to use those concert funds for the greater good, if you can afford it. Buy a CD. Buy a vinyl record. Buy a shirt. Find their Bandcamp page. Oftentimes, the ‘name your price’ function is available and will allow you to set whatever meager price-tag on there you'd like, for some bargain music. We're asking you to set that price a little bit above the average, for them. This is their living, and if you love them enough to want them to continue making great music for a long time, then you can rest easy knowing your much-appreciated funds will be keeping their heads above water in the eleventh hour.

This is asking a lot. We're asking you to spend money on merchandise and music that is great on paper, but may tighten your wallet a little in the process. It's time to look back and consider what these groups have done for you, though. Personally, I look back and consider the bad months I've had that were wiped away like a bad dream when I got to see one of my favorite groups live. I consider the personal sacrifices these groups make in order to come stand on a stage thousands of miles from home just to make a living.

They've lost time with their families. They've lost many of the moments we take for granted so that you get to hear a handful of songs you enjoy with your friends on a fun night out. They write the words that we sing to ourselves in the shower. They play the notes that you whistle while you're forgetting how painfully dull and tedious life can be. They lift the stress that you carry on your shoulders, for however brief a time.

Write them a note. Find their contact page and send them positive words. Thank them for all they do. If you don't think you'll be saving them and their families, we encourage you to reach out to these bands and see how much of a difference you're making. We're all in this together, and the less our musical friends have to worry about whether or not they'll be able to survive another week, the better chance that when we're all together in the pit again, we'll be celebrating all the new music they've crafted in isolation.

Stay safe, and keep the music alive.


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