Photo by Gear Patrol // T-shirt waiting in shopping cart. Song ready to be streamed. Color vinyl bundle bought.
Participating in the purchasing of music and merchandise has more strings attached to it than ever before. It’s hard to know exactly where your money is going nowadays let alone how much is actually getting into the pocket of your favorite artist.
I first realized this dilemma a few days ago when I wanted to buy some music from a newer artist online but realized I hadn’t done that in a long time. I was surprised I hadn’t given this issue more thought before now, but this blog has got me way more woke about how I support indie art lately.
So, what’s the best way to financially support your favorite independent artists?
I don’t claim to be an expert on the subject, but I decided to make this cheat sheet for music lovers who might not realize they could be making smarter choices with their money.
Photo by KiteBa.se
Buy Music/Merch at Concerts
Going to shows is a given. You like a band, you go to see them live. Going to concerts IRL is the best way to support your band. But problems lie in the purchasing of the ticket. Often, they’re sold through third parties like Ticketfly, Event Brite or some other platform that takes a portion of sales away from artists. So, making sure you pick up a record or shirt at the merch table at the show should help make up for that.
Buy Music/Merch From Artist’s Websites
Many indie bands have their own websites with merch stores linked to sites like Big Cartel, Shopify or CafePress. Again, these outside platforms take money for their use. Counteract this by buying physical copies of music from the artist instead of digital. I still don’t really understand the science behind this, but I know that purchasing hard copies of music results in more money for the artist vs downloads.
Buy Music/Merch From Indie Labels
If your artist is signed to an indie label like Domino or Burger Records it’s better to buy through their web stores vs. some random website or retailer. At least you’re supporting a business that has your artists interests in mind. Always avoid purchasing through major labels and watch for people selling bootleg music.
Buy Music/Merch From Small Platforms
If you must have your music in a digital format, try buying from small platforms that only take a small percentage from artists like Bandcamp (although I’ve read that Bandcamp uses PayPal which takes an additional fee from the artist so that it’s two instead of one). Do your research on other similar content sites to make sure the artist is getting the most bang for your buck.
If only one music lover reads this I hope that I’ve made a difference. It’s important to make sure our favorite artists stay strong and not starving and that we support them financially as well as creatively.
Peace, love and good tuneage,