15 free ways to support local musicians!
Access to music has never been easier, and as a result our ears are exposed to music all the time. Often this music seems free whether it’s in the background at a store or in video game or online on Youtube or Pandora. Obviously we pay with our attention by watching (or skipping…) ads, but this leaves out the musicians that are close to home. This easy access to music may make us reluctant to pay to go to a concert or pay local musicians directly for their services, but other ways you can still support them, and they’re free! Here are 15 free ways to support local musicians around you.
1. Watch their kids so they can perform or practice
Playing an instrument well takes hours of daily practice and this may be a scheduling nightmare for working musicians with kids. If you manage to make friends with some musicians you would like to support, perhaps by following the other suggestions in this list, they will love you if you free up time for them to rehearse by watching their kids for an hour. Sometimes even hanging out with the kids at the performance can be a huge help.
2. Offer transport
Setting up transportation for personnel or equipment can be a challenge for independent musicians. I remember an occasion of each member of my quintet carrying a music stand an instrument and random equipment on a city bus to make sure our concert was a success. We would have been over the moon for someone with a car to help get us and our stuff to the venue.
If you have a car or a van and would like to support the local music scene you could be the hero of the day and earn the gratitude of your musician friends.
3. Put up Flyers or Posters
Promoting concerts is difficult and a lot of work! By putting up posters or flyers on bulletin boards in cafes and libraries and sharing the event info with your church and school communities, you can help musicians gain exposure to a new audience. It is free and easy to do and is a huge help to the musicians, and they will appreciate the boost in their marketing and attendance.
4. Go see them perform
This one is obvious, but people tend to forget how impactful it is. Musicians often perform in spaces or house concerts that are free to attend. And even if a concert is not free, the performers can get you comp tickets if you express interest with enough advance notice and enthusiasm. All you have to do is ask! Coming to a local musician’s live concerts does a lot more than just lend moral support; there are actual financial and career implications to filling up a space with active fans.
When musicians start performing, one of the most discouraging things they can experience is to not have an audience. I have seen extremely talented musicians put on a concert in their own home city to a crowd of ten people. The music may be great, but there is nothing like a large audience to make the evening more fun. Additionally, bigger crowds inspire people in attendance who may not yet know the musicians to follow them and see them perform again.
Musicians are constantly trying to build their fan base and sometimes it seems as if the only way to build a community is to already have fans. So if you would like a free and easy way to support a local musician, you should go to their shows or concerts, and make sure you bring your friends too!
5. Support them on social media
Subscribing to musicians’ YouTube channels and following them on Instagram is already an important way to support them, but you can do so much more and make a much bigger impact for absolutely free! Share their posts, and invite friends to like their page and attend their events. Comments and shares go a long way in giving musicians legitimacy online, and if you are a fan they will love you for it! So be sure to comment, like, share, and subscribe!
Want to go beyond the clickable help? Pose with them for a photo at their live events! Be sure to post the photo on your own social media and tag them. Bonus points if you include the link to their website or YouTube channel. This goes a really long way and is totally free for you to do. It might even boost your own social media following!
6. Visit and share their blog
Many musicians, chamber groups, and bands have a website, and many of them post regular updates, photos, or articles with valuable information. By visiting their website you can gain a personal connection with your favorite musicians and stay up to date with their tour schedule or new music. If you see something worth sharing, don’t be shy to post it to Pinterest or share links. The more visitors and shares a website gets, the more Google will favor it in search results, so this is actually a great help! And once again, it’stotally free!
Many musicians sell merchandise on their websites. So if you are not opposed to spending a few dollars, buy a T-shirt, sticker, or whatever other cool merchandise is available. This is one of the best ways to support musicians, and you can go even further by sharing your new look on social media and following the tips in #7.
A perhaps less obvious fact is that some musicians also make great blogs that may give lessons or provide free guides to music or suggestions for what to listen to. This is great information for those who look, but if you help it get seen on Pinterest or Facebook, you also help the musicians out a ton!
7. Talk to your friends and family about their music and give them honest reviews
Seriously, though – bring your friends, bring your parents; bring anyone you know, even your Tinder date! In our modern digital age this may seem old-fashioned, but there is no review or recommendation that is more impactful than one from someone you know personally. I would not have even heard of most of my favorite groups if it weren’t for the recommendation of a friend, and no number of Facebook ads or NPR interviews can replace that personal connection.
It can feel awkward to recommend a group to someone whose tastes you don’t know well, but just be honest and remember that it is free to do. Best case scenario: you helped double a musician’s fan base; worse case scenario: more people have heard about them.
8. Tell the venue, restaurant, cafe, or bar where they are performing how much you enjoy their music and that you came to see them.
Musicians are often hired or “allowed to play for tips” at a restaurant, bar, or other public space. After you have followed the first two tips, make sure to tell any employees and managers how much you enjoy the music. This will signal to the people in power that they should hire the musicians again; perhaps even under more favorable terms.
Restaurant owners want people to come to their establishments and will gladly pay talented musicians if they know they have a strong following. By vocalizing your support to the right people, you can increase job security for the musicians you love. Obviously don’t be obnoxious, but do be sincere and direct. This is both free for you to do and invaluable to the musicians on the stage.
9. Help them collect tips
Musicians give a lot of attention to producing great music, but this leaves little room for them to execute the other aspects of profitable performing to the highest level. It can be awkward or difficult for performers to find the right time to smoothly encourage contributions to the tip jar in the middle of a show, and it can go a long way for a friend to remind the crowd of the value of their entertainment. At one concert a friend took the contributions box and walked around the room collecting tips and greeting people – we collected $500 more than usual that night!
If you’re an extroverted person and don’t mind collecting tips for a concert, this will make your musician friends love you forever.
10. Recommend them to perform at the office party or library event
Most offices or firms have holiday events funded by the company. If you have the ear of a manager or boss, recommend a local musician to provide live music for the reception. If they are of capable holding everyone’s attention with their act, recommend them to provide the opening entertainment before a big speech.
11. Host a house concert
Booking concert venues is a huge but necessary investment for many musicians. They may struggle to find places that will represent their music well and be comfortable for their audience. If you offer to host a concert at your home, it can be a great opportunity for the musicians to get in another performance while on tour and reduce their cost per show. This is a great way to interact with the musicians much more closely! It can also be a fun night for you and your friends and family, as musicians are notoriously fun to hang out with.
Musicians will be extremely grateful for any level of support, whether you can provide the space, reception, and audience promotion, or just the space. They can handle the rest. Either way, offering your space for a night will evoke the love of your favorite musicians for years to come!
12. Put ‘em up - offer lodging!
Often musicians will decide if they can take there performances on the road based on cost and feasibility. They may not be able to justify a performance if they have nowhere in town to stay. If you offer to house them they will be able to promote their music in more places and will love the support.
Even if all you can offer is a floor musicians are often into bohemian lifestyles and will gladly sleep on a sleeping bag they can pack or often much less.
Musicians understand the generosity involved with providing shelter and you will form a strong bond with them from then on. This is a great free way to support growing artists that has led to many important friendships.
13. Offer to volunteer at their next event
Even if you can not offer shelter or a concert venue there are still more free ways to help. Perhaps you could give an hour or so of your time and get to listen to great music all the while?
The truth is there are never enough people helping with the execution of a concert and more hands are always welcome! You may be asked to hand out programs, help sell CD’s or even just let the artists know that they are ready to play the next piece or part of the show. By volunteering at a concert you will again make fast friends with the musicians, and maybe even learn somethings about show business.
14. Refer them students
Many musicians teach students for supplemental income. When you refer students to them they can more easily eat between performance opportunities and put more energy into making great music.
When referring students it’s a great idea to encourage the potential pupil to visit the musicians website, or even better is to send an email to the student with the musicians contact information and even some links to performances and their online materials.
15. Be vocal about your appreciation
Even in the current age of Facebook and Youtube the best advertisement is from people in our personal social circle of friends and family. Don’t forget to tell those closest to you about the great music happening in your area and help inspire others to support local musicians as well. This is the best way to make sure the culture in your neighborhood remains vibrant and colorful.