How To Support Black Musicians Today And Everyday

George Floyd Protest June 5 Brothers of Brass
Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
Urged on by the music of Denver-based Brothers of Brass, Friday evenings march and protest racism and police brutality felt more like a celebration and demonstration rolled into one. The noise but peaceful procession began at the Capitol, traveled up 14 Street through Capitol Hill, to Cheeseman Park on Friday, June 5, 2020.

COVID-19 devastated the music industry this year. Despite canceled gigs, artists are still creating, making music, talking about mental health and supporting one another. Against this backdrop, protests have erupted all over the world to rally against police brutality and in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.

You'll find music at the center, or close to it, in almost any protest. Denver's New Orleans-style brass band, The Brothers of Brass, has emerged as part of the fabric of protests and rallies. In this particular moment, music is just one of the ways people are sharing the stories of black lives and experiences across the country.

Wondering how you can support Black artists in Colorado? We've compiled 10 ways in which you can help:

  1. Stream their music
    Especially on Bandcamp. On June 19, Bandcamp is donating 100 percent of its share of sales to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. On July 3, the platform is waiving its share of sales and sending it directly to artists or the organizations they support. Keep an eye on Bandcamp's website for other #BandcampFriday events. It also doesn't hurt to stream on other music platforms and on YouTube. Give Indie a follow on Spotify. We have curated many playlists that feature local artists so they can accumulate money from those streams.
  2. Follow local musicians on social media
    Whether it's on Instagram or Twitter or Facebook, follow artists you love on social platforms and discover new artists to support. Share their profiles with your followers to give them an extra boost. You know what also helps? Commenting and liking their posts.
  3. Tell several friends about them
    Word of mouth can get an artist so far. Think of three black musicians you love who haven't yet "hit it big" and tell three friends about them. Have a listening session with friends the next time you're together (in real life or virtually) and talk about the music you love and why.
  4. Buy their merch
    Head to their websites, socials, and streaming platforms to find merchandise from artists. Some are even donating proceeds to organizations in support of racial justice.
  5. Support their side hustles
    Many musicians have side projects: small businesses, making other types of art, podcasting, or teaching music lessons. Share and support those endeavors too.
  6. Donate directly
    Cashapp, Venmo, PayPal. Ask artists if it is OK to send them direct funds. Some may also put their pay information in the bios of their social media profiles. Since your caffeine habit has probably changed since you're working at home, why not use your latte money to show love to a local artist?
  7. Book them for paid gigs
    Shows aren't usually free, so we should be paying the artists we book for these shows. Many of these musicians are musicians full-time. Their livelihood depends on the revenue they produce from shows. We know live music isn't happening right now so start with supporting your local music venues. So many are shutting down across the country and those are the places most likely to book up-and-coming artists. Set up GoFundMe's to #SaveOurVenues and get black artists booked and paid when things start to return to normal.
  8. Support your local radio station
    Oh hey, Indie is a local radio station. But if you don't live in Colorado, find your local radio station and go out and support them. Donate, subscribe to their newsletters, follow them on social media. Tell them to promote and play local artists.
  9. Subscribe to local media publications
    In Colorado a few publications to follow for music news and happenings: 303 Magazine, Do303, Westword, Ultra5280
  10. Show up for racial justice in your daily life
    Local artists Adiel Mitchell and Ramakhandra have said that showing up for black people can be done by showing up for protests, supporting black-owned businesses, and calling out racism every single day every time you see it.

Ready for more? Here's a list of black musicians in Colorado you can support.

Make sure to follow CPR News and our sister site Denverite for the latest updates on protests, COVID-19, and more.