3 April 2020

Three ways you can support Canberra's live music scene right now

| Sharona Lin
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Working in the live music industry can be a precarious and low-paying endeavour at the best of times. But in the last few weeks, the industry has been devastated.

The financial and mental impact coronavirus has had on the music community has been rough. At the time of writing, the I Lost My Gig website tallies the impact of gigs lost in Australia at $325 million. That includes the cost to performers, as well as people behind the scenes like roadies, managers, venue operators, bar staff and more.

The good news is that there are plenty of simple ways you can help the music industry, including your favourite artists, by donating, buying and engaging.


Closed until further notice: lifeblood venues for live music in Canberra like Transit Bar are casualties of venue-shuttering due to COVID-19. Photo: Sharona Lin.


Support Act has been helping people working in the live music industry for over 20 years.

In 2018, they established the Support Act Wellbeing Helpline, a counselling service for anyone working in Australian music who needs to talk about any aspect of their mental health (their number is 1800 959 500).

They have also set up an emergency appeal for those in the industry affected by coronavirus. All donations will go towards crisis relief for people in the industry and, of course, donations are tax-deductible.

Donate to the emergency appeal here and maybe consider donating after all this is over as well.

If you have tickets to an event, consider forgoing the refund in favour of waiting for your event to be rescheduled. If it’s cancelled, why not donate the cost of the ticket to the artists?

Nette France fronting Sputnik Sweetheart

Nette France and her band Sputnik Sweetheart were regular performers in Canberra venues. Photo: Harry Chalker.


The best way to get dollars to your favourite artist is to give them dollars.

As convenient as streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music are, when it comes to paying out royalties, they’re not great for artists. The best way to make sure musicians are getting the most revenue from their work is to buy from them.

That might be buying a physical CD or vinyl direct from their website, buying merch or a digital copy of their music from Bandcamp (they take 15 per cent of music sales and 10 per cent of merch), or supporting them on Patreon.

In fact, Triple J’s Ausmusic T-Shirt Day has been moved from November to 17 April, so it’s the perfect time to buy a shirt or two, and give back to the musicians that give us our favourite tunes.

Hope Wilkins

Hope Wilkins paid it forward earlier this year for bushfire relief. Photo: Claire Warren.


If you aren’t in a position to put cash towards music or merch, the good news is you can still support artists.

Despite streaming services’ relatively low revenue share, those plays are still good for artists, so keep streaming their music, especially new music. Request their new tracks on the radio, too. While these plays seem relatively intangible, airplay and streaming numbers are important for artists’ careers.

Watch and (virtually) support artists who put on livestreams, listen to their new music. Share their music, encourage your friends to listen, buy, stream and share.

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