Words by David C. Obenour
David C. Obenour is the founder and editor for Off Shelf. Prior to that, he served as the editor and co-publisher of Ghettoblaster‘s print magazine, and wrote as a contributor for Under the Radar, The Big Takeover, Filter, Devil in the Woods, Metro.pop, and a number of other current and long gone publications.
Now is the time to pay for music.
As the Covid-19 outbreak limits public gatherings, effectively or actually shutting down venues and bars across the country, many artists are being forced to cancel their spring tours (examples from Kerrang, Newsweek, Billboard and directly from the bands we love on our social media feeds). As physical and digital album sales continue to dry up, these seasonal tours have become the lifeblood of the modern working musician.
This is a big deal.
Unfortunately the United States doesn’t provide an adequate safety net for those in need. For touring musicians, vans have been rented and dayjobs have been called off – what’s worse is the dayjobs are more often than not for businesses that will be equally impacted by the measures to stop the virus. This is going to be hard for the immediate future.
It’s also going to be hard for the near future beyond that. These types of cancellations aren’t as easy as just rescheduling as it may be until summer when all of this has cleared up. School’s out for summer and school is where a large portion of live music’s audience comes from. A summer tour is not necessarily as profitable as a spring or fall tour. It may not be until the fall that many of the bands we know and love are able to rebook these dates.
To be certain, everyone is suffering now, particularly independent small businesses. Be sure to support your local bars and venues that are feeling it even worse than the musicians, along with your favorite breweries, coffee shops, restaurants – anything that makes your city and in turn, your life more interesting and fun. Find ways to give them your money. They need it.
But Off Shelf is predominantly a music and gaming blog [fun fact: games are great things to do inside and at home]. And while it’s always a good time to support the music you love, this is a crucial time. Buy an album, buy a t-shirt, buy a poster, buy a fucking button. If you are feeling well and aren’t in an at-risk population, practice social distancing and regular hand-washing to go and do it in person at your local record stores. If you aren’t, or just prefer not going out, buy a gift certificate. Call in if you don’t see it online. They need your support.
Want to help, but not sure what to buy? I’m glad you asked, intrepid reader! Ismay has a beautiful album of rural California finger-picking aptly titled, Songs from Sonoma Mountain. Drummer Makaya McCraven released We’re New Again, a reimagining of Gil Scott Heron’s I’m New Here. Torres released Silver Tongue maybe her best album yet. Also a bunch of great artists that we’ve already featured this year.
Thank you. We’ll get through this, but it has to be together. Stay safe and stay supportive of the people and things you love.