Supporting Local Music for Thriving Communities.

2023-03-26 Small & Local Blog Supporting Local Musicians Featured Image

Music is the artistic pulse of any lively community. An active local music scene is always a sign that the community’s arts and culture play a valuable role in its social life. 

That being said, it’s important to keep in mind that local music doesn’t typically encapsulate what we think of as mainstream music. Oftentimes, local music is much more eclectic, and believe it or not, harder to find. 

During the pandemic, the local and independent music scene took a hard hit. Musicians lost the ability to perform live at venues and instead had to rely on a streaming model, according to a CBC article. This meant that they lost a large portion of their income. According to a study conducted by researchers at the University of Hamburg, overall consumer spending on music has decreased by over 45 percent. 

While it’s easier to rely on streaming to get your daily dose of music, it, unfortunately, doesn’t really help musicians pay their bills. Musicians only make $0.0038 per stream, according to Justice At Spotify, a unionized petition created during the pandemic to argue for better streaming pay for musicians.

Young black woman with eyes closed, enjoying listening to music through headphones

Clearly, there is invaluable importance in actively attending live shows and venues to support local musicians in your community. 

And here are some ways to do just that!

Educate yourself about your local music scene

Music varies according to its landscape. When you get down to the meat of it, every community has a unique flavour of music. For example, all communities have different cultural diasporas. This means that different musical influences saturate your local community.

Additionally, every community has go-to music venues. Bars, clubs, and concert halls all hold different kinds of music for different kinds of music lovers. Scope out the scene around you and figure out what kind of music you most want to hear live. Better yet, explore a new-to-you kind of local music. It may become a new fav!

Do some exploring online as well. It’s easy to search for upcoming concerts and performances in your area. Maybe there’s a live show or event you’d be interested in attending. If anything, it’s also possible to use that information to find different artists in your community.

Local artists don’t have the advantage that a big-name artist has, so it’s harder for them to reach out to a larger audience. So when you actively do some research to find out about them, it makes a world of difference.

Keep yourself up to date with your local music industry 

Most cities have a pretty active music scene, so you can make it a point to keep up with local news about upcoming music events. They will usually pop up later in the cultural sections of newscasts, as well as the news online. The artists will also make posts about upcoming events on their social media that you can follow. You can also scroll through sites like Eventbrite where you can usually also get your tickets. Handy.

There are also local social media groups or pages where musicians share their upcoming performances. For example, there is a Facebook group where Halifax locals & musicians share upcoming events, featuring local favourites like Fraser Martin, the Slightly Slanted Band, Geoff Kennedy, and many more.

Attend live events Young hip-hop performer on stage

Yeah, you can stream local musicians’ music, but, as we discussed above, they get very little money from this. That’s why it’s so important to also attend local live events. That is one of the best ways to enjoy music, after all; live and in-person! Plus, live events at your local dive bar and clubs are a great way to get some drinks with your friends and enjoy some unique music that you otherwise would not have been exposed to. Everybody wins. You, your friends, and the musicians!

You can also attend the many music festivals held at some larger concert venues. You can check out our Nova Scotia Local Festivals blog for local music, food, and art festivals for some inspiration. Churches will also hold classical music concerts for classical music lovers. Attend concerts that you know you’ll love, and you can directly support local musicians while you’re at it.

Commission local music for your next event

Many local artists will also perform at your private event. For example, if you or anyone you know is planning for live music at a wedding, find out if there are local musicians you could hire.

Terry Kelly is an iconic Nova Scotia example of commissioning local musicians. Not only can you book him for house, private, or corporate concerts. He can also help source other local musicians for all manner of events—personal or corporate.

Birthday parties, graduation parties, and other small events could be a great way to go about supporting small musicians in your community. Not only do you get to enjoy—your guests do too. So your booked musician gets all that extra exposure, no doubt resulting in some new fans!

Support budding musicians

Musicians usually start out small. Whether that’d be going to piano classes, or attending guitar lessons, these spaces provide valuable introductions to the world of music. However, not all children have the ability to afford those lessons. By supporting those events, or donating to fundraisers held by local organizations such as the Women for Music Society, you can play a part in making the joy of music accessible to everyone.

You can attend youth concerts as well. Symphony Nova Scotia runs a non-profit Nova Scotia Youth Orchestra, a young group of musicians who perform advanced and high-quality classical music. You can check out their live performance schedules here

Young girl learning to play sax in a youth orchestra

Even attending your child’s band concert is a great way to show support for young local musicians. While it sounds like a small gesture, taking the time to show up tells young musicians that their work in this field is valuable.

You can also consider sending your own children for music lessons. It’s a great way to support local music teachers who make a living from sharing the beauty of music with kids. For example, Mansion on the Hill is a great music studio with two locations in Halifax. They provide a multitude of instrument lessons in person and online. Ekko Mindful Music Studio is another example of a valuable teaching hub. Offering lessons in voice, piano, fiddle, violin, guitar, cello, bass, ukulele, mandolin, banjo, saxophone, and woodwinds.

Word of mouth and sharing

If there is a particular concert that you’re eager to attend, invite a friend or two. Concerts are always more fun with other people. Local artists usually host more intimate concerts in local bars, so not only can it be a fun concert-going experience for your group, but also a great chance to grab a drink or two while indulging in new forms of music.

Purchase merchandise

Many local musicians sell their own merchandise, whether it be sweaters, keychains, notebooks, etc. If you’re a fan of a local artist, buy some of their merchandise to represent them. Your cool band shirt might make for a really interesting conversation with a stranger at a bus stop, and you might have even introduced them to that small band that you like so much!

Actions speak louder than music

While it’s important to listen to and stream music, we still need to support the local music industry by attending live performances. It’s about being mindful of your music consumption. Where is that music coming from? Is this way of listening to local music the best way to support the local artists you love so much?

If not, we’ve already given you some alternatives to think about. And, if you have some tips about more ways to support local musicians please do share in the comments!

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