We're all familiar with the term "Starving artist." Unfortunately, some of us are a little too familiar. Like, making payment arrangements and doomsday prepping the freezer with 39 cent Tina's burritos familiar. Fear not! We have some ways you can support your artist friends and make sure the utility companies don't come breaking down their doors:
1. Say It With me: It's A Real J.O.B.
While there are some who sing, dance, tell jokes, or sculpt celebrity cats out of corn cobs as a hobby, most artists are not in this category. We have to start thinking of people in the creative community as people who are working. Just because a person chooses to work on what they love doesn't make the product any less necessary to our lives. What would our world be like without art? Children's hospitals would be drab without colorful paintings, there'd be nothing to bust a move to at parties, and your Netflix and chill, well, that would just be chill. We need art and we need people to be able to work on their craft full time. Generating material, rehearsing, going on the road, setting up a show or an exhibition, and meeting with press and fans takes a lot of time. If we don't start to see art as work artists will continue to need day jobs and the content we crave will remain a slow trickle.
2. A Fine Establish-MINT
If you run a venue and you make sure your performers get paid you've earned a well-deserved slow clap. Different establishments have different budgets depending on size and clientele but it is really important that anyone who graces your stage be given fair compensation for their work. If you need to charge a cover to help offset the cost go right ahead. While patrons love to get in for free a small cover makes them value your establishment and the talent while still making them feel like they are getting a good deal. While venues offer artists exposure and the occasional free drink ticket landlords don't accept flat PBR's and those three new Twitter followers as rent.
3. When's Your Next Show?
It's great that you are offering moral support but please actually make good on your words. You don't need to ask if you don't have any intention of making it out. No one expects you to be at every show but if you really want to be supportive come out from time to time. There is nothing more soul crushing than performing in front of three people, two of whom are also performers. Come out and bring friends who will appreciate the event as much as you will. In the age of hashtags it seems easy to get content discovered online. Unfortunately this isn't always the case because it is a privileged few who understand the hide-you or shine-you algorithms of social media. Sharing and commenting stack the odds in your favor but there is no substitute for real, live derrieres in the chairs.
4. Merch Obliged
Who doesn't love shirts, vinyls, posters, stickers etc? If your artist has merchandise buy it up. Not only are you helping to finance their work directly, you are helping to promote it. That's two birds with one shirt!
5. Cash Me If You Can
Don't ask for free tickets or guest list unless you really have to. If the event is sold out or the artist happens to offer then go for it. Ticket sales are one of the primary ways artists and the people associated make their money. Freebies are a privilege not a right. If your artist has a project on one of the many crowdfunding sites please support it. Everyone is quick to support an emergency situation which is great. Creative projects, however, often end up on the back burner when it comes to clicking that donate button. If we do better at contributing the artist will be able to produce content which will hopefully generate income. Should a hardship arise, that person will be more economically prepared. Think of it as preventative care.
6. On The Road Again
If you and your artist friend are comfortable with it, offer them a couch to crash on or buy them dinner when they come through town. They will save a ton on accommodation and you'll get a little hang time in.
If we make it easier for artists to make a living in the beginning maybe the road to the "Big break" won't be so bumpy. Remember, you are helping to affect change on a bigger scale than you realize. If you support your friends not only can they take care of themselves and their loved ones but also bring happiness and awareness to the world around them.