6 Easy Ways To Support Bristol Music During Coronavirus

6 Easy Ways To Support Bristol Music During Coronavirus

Posted on: 22 May 2020

Six small, super easy ways to do your bit for the local music scene during the ongoing coronavirus outbreak. 


Coronavirus has meant gigs, festivals and mass gatherings are a no-go, and crucially, no one really knows when it’ll be safe to bring it all back.


In turn, the pandemic has wiped out a huge chunk of income for the local music industry, leaving many unclear of their future. All kinds of people have been impacted; from music venue staff and industry creatives to promoters and musicians.


But there are things, albeit small, that each of us can do to help alleviate the strain of coronavirus on local music. But first, quite how serious is the problem? That brings us to our first solution, illustrated by the national #SaveOurVenues campaign. 


Give what you can to #SaveOurVenues crowdfunding campaigns


The Music Venue Trust has identified 556 grassroots music venues in the UK are at imminent risk of permanent closure due to the obstalces raised by coronvirus. It’s a stat which has formed the basis of the Trust’s nationwide campaign, #SaveOurVenues.


Bristol venues, including The Louisiana, The Old England, and The Exchange, and more recently, The Mother's Ruin, have each launched crowdfunding campaigns in response to the campaign. The crowdfunders will help venues to cover essential running costs whilst doors remain closed, and protect them against the risk of closure.


If we want our music venues to survive coronavirus, a sure-fire way to support them is by contributing to crowfunding campaigns like these. As Lor, The Louisiana’s artist booker told our dedicated music publication LOUD Magazine, “there aren’t many grassroots music venues left in Bristol, and yet they’re described as ‘roots’. Cut the roots and nothing will grow.”

Side note: The Old England has also released a digital album, packed with old, demo and unreleased material from artists who have "lived, worked, played, and drank" at the venue to support their fundraiser.

Credit: Ania ShrimptonThe Louisiana, photographed by Ania Shrimpton


Tune in to live streams: Bristol Takeover Online


While we’re on the subject of #SaveOurVenues, it’s important to mention the power of the live streamed gig. Of course, artists can’t take the (physical) stage for the time being, but many are turning to live stream to show off what they’ve got amid lockdown – and they’re dedicating time and effort to make it happen. Take Mouse: Bristol’s rising pop artist. Her recent live streamed gig, supporting Paper Dragon, saw outfit changes and backing dancers, plus a stripped back acoustic set. So, if you see a local artist promoting their online gig, tune in: your viewership and donations can mean a lot.


Want more than a one-off, digital performance? Colston Hall has got you covered. This Saturday (23 May) from 15:00, Colston Hall is throwing not just a digital gig, but a digital festival, teeming with live streamed gigs in aid of the #SaveOurVenues campaign. Partnered with an array of Bristol music venues, Bristol Takeover Online aims to celebrate and support Bristol music with a nine-hour schedule of performances from local artists.


Hosted by BBC introducing in the West’s Sam Bonham and Richard Pitt, the digital festival will host acts from across Bristol music; including Bristol jazz frontrunners Waldo’s Gift and Ishmael Ensemble to lofi indie/electronica artist Tamu Massif. The just-announced lineup also features the likes of Portishead’s Adrian Utley and Bristol-based singer songwriter Kate Stapley.


Bristol Takeover Online is free to watch via Colston Hall's YouTube channel, but in an effort to support Bristol music amid the pandemic, the venue is asking that viewers donate what they might normally spend on a gig ticket to the event’s crowdfunding page. Half of all donations will support participating artists, and the rest will be donated to Bristol music venues, in collaboration with Music Venue Trust.

Earlier this week, we spoke with Trinity Centre's Events Production Coordinator Aysha Tailor-Whyte and Duty Manager Joe Sawdon, to find out what they've been listening to in lockdown. The pair stressed the importance of tuning into live streams:


"I think it's important not to take live streams for granted," Aysha said. "So many artists rely on live shows to support themselves and they can't do that to the same extent through live streams, as many of them aren't getting paid.


"If you can afford it, donating the price of a gig ticket or a pint for streams, or checking out their Bandcamp and merch, is a great way to help. Now is a perfect time to discover more local artists so you can get more involved with the Bristol music scene once we return to normality."



Read and support local music journalism 


Last month, we released the second edition of our dedicated music publication, LOUD Magazine. The zine’s aim is simple: to make noise about local music. But we’re not the only ones producing content about Bristol sound. In fact, LOUD is lucky to be surrounded by an array of brilliant publications and platforms.


Crack Magazine, Bristol in Stereo, Nitelife, Bristol 247, The Bristol Cable, Tap The Feed – each of these outlets play an essential role in pushing Bristol music forward. It’s these platforms which often provide new, local talent with their first bits of coverage, setting the stage for their ascent to national and international heights. They celebrate the return of established artists; they give the world a truly unique insight into Bristol music.


But to keep going, these publications need your help.


At the moment, In Stereo is selling a limited print by Babak Ganjei to support its staff and freelancers, with 10% of all profits being donated to The Trussell Trust. Elsewhere, Nitelife has launched a supporter bundle, packed with exclusive digital releases. You can also become a member of publications like Crack Magazine (who recently launched their first digital edition), Bristol 247 and The Bristol Cable


Listen to and support local radio stations


Like music publications, local radio stations also play a crucial role in nurturing and celebrating Bristol music. So tune in! Tell your friends to do the same! Share the shows (and the music) you like.


There’s an abundance of radio stations in Bristol - Ujima, 1020, and Noods to name a few. Each work to provide an essential platform to new talent, budding DJs and rising broadcasters. Take Noods Radio: recently, we met up with Tilly, a rising selector and radio show host, who got her first shot at radio with Noods. Tilly is just one success story of dozens when it comes to these local stations. 


Not only that, but there’s the local BBC music shows, such as BBC Introducing in the West and BBC Upload with Adam Crowther, where you’ll find heaps of brand-new music from local talent.

Inside the 1020 Radio studio, photographed by Mark Sleap

Inside the 1020 Radio studio, photographed by Mark Sleap

Support Bristol record shops: order records, buy merch 


It’s obvious: to support local music; you should buy local music. And what better place to do so than a local record shop? Record shops don’t just sell records, but often enough, they’re a hub for the local music community.


Take Idle Hands: Chris Farrell’s dance music haven. Idle Hands, as well as being a specialist dance music retailer and label, is an event space and a true representative for Bristol’s dance music scene. Recently, Farrell has worked with local initiatives such as Mix Nights (a DJ workshop programme for womxn), to host their Open Decks series, and has appeared on the BBC to discuss the impact of coronavirus on business. 


So how can we support the local record shops? First off: head to their online shops and get your mitts on a record or two. Idle Hands are offering free delivery on orders over £50, Specialist Subject Records (a record shop based above The Exchange) are posting out online orders every day from Monday to Friday, and Wanted Records have launched an eBay shop to keep afloat.


Elsewhere, Keynsham’s Longwell Records is operating a free, Bristol and Bath bike delivery service, and is asking their customers to donate what they would have spent on delivery to Keynsham’s food bank.


North Street’s Friendly Records have also got an online shop, alongside some brand-new membership scheme, ‘Friends of Friendly.’ Become a member and get a limited-edition, locally-printed t-shirt, 10% off all records instore and more.

Mix Nights Open Decks @ Idle Hands, January 2020

Mix Nights Open Decks @ Idle Hands, January 2020 | Photographed by Ash Reynolds


Follow the lockdown initiatives of Bristol music venues and promoters 


Podcasts, playlists and digital gig listings and beer deliveries: promoters and local venues alike have been busy whilst venue doors remain closed, forging on to produce a range of creative projects amid lockdown. Whether it’s a like, share, follow, listen – an order, even – every single interaction with these projects can help to keep the buzz around a venue or a project alive, which is crucial during fundraising campaigns. 


Thekla, for instance, has launched a weekly podcast, titled Isolation Discs. Each week, the floating music venue and former German cargo ship invite a different artist to chat (remotely) with Isolation Discs host, Chris Arnold. Since its launch, the podcast has featured Bristol MC Gardna, folk singer Beans on Toast and Dev, the bassist of IDLES. Elsewhere, Bristol’s heavy metal and real ale pub, The Gryphon, has launched a local beer delivery service, whilst Motion has launched a #StaffSelects Spotify playlist.

As for promoters, Bitch, Please! have launched a full month of lockdown live streams to raise money for local homeless charity Caring in Bristol. Find out more right here


Buy Bristol music via Bandcamp on Friday 5 June 


On Friday 5 June (and again, on Friday 3 July), the online music publisher and retailer Bandcamp will be waiving its administration fees, meaning all proceeds from sales will go directly to artists and labels. (Usually, the site collects 15% of sales from digital music and 10% from physical goods.)


From local record shops, to artists and labels - just about everyone making and releasing music will have a Bandcamp page, so why not hold off on that next purchase? In times like these, it's important artists et al. recieve every single penny for their efforts. Find out more:


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Article by:

Kate Hutchison


Kate Hutchison

Get in touch with Kate at kate@365bristol.com