Opinion: Now is the Time for Solidarity in Electronic Music
Over the weekend, tensions flared up across social media, as Discwoman found themselves under attack by artists and fans. The American collective were accused of being “entitled idiots” during a time of crisis. They’d asked for donations to help the artists on their roster — many of whom are already marginalized by society — while reeling from the loss of thousands of dollars in gig fees due to coronavirus. Suddenly, everyone was taking sides, hurling accusations of “privilege” and “racism” at one another.
While it’s true that artists in America are facing much more dire circumstances than many of their European counterparts — one trip to the doctor for a poor and uninsured person can be financially unrecoverable there — how true or untrue these specific accusations are isn’t the point of this article.
We’re facing what the Berlin Club Commission has called “the greatest crisis since the post-war period.” And Berlin’s clubs are hardly the only part of our community under serious threat. Around the world, everyone who’s connected to the live events industry or is self-employed, including artists big and small, are watching in real time as their their income vanishes for the next few months. For those who’ve been unable to save money — and that likely includes far more artists than the general public imagines — panic and fear are understandable.
As streaming giants have decimated alternative revenue streams for most artists, live events have become central to survival. Suddenly, many artists are watching helplessly as their sole source of income disappears. Clubs and promoters are in a similar position. Many promoters lamented the difficulty in making ends meet before coronavirus. Their problems will likely only be compounded due to this crisis. Clubs, too, faced a precarious existence pre-coronavirus. Like artists and promoters, they’ll need all the help they can get before this is over; that is, if we want places in which we can dance and celebrate once the isolation ends.
The DJ behind the Discwoman attack was the UK’s Jane Fitz, who has since deleted her original post. And yesterday, she published a message conceding the “anger” and “divisions” she’d stirred. “At the time of unique crisis, more than ever, that is the very last thing we need,” she wrote.
However you may feel about her original statement, what’s been crystallized in the past few days is the desperate need for solidarity within our community. We need understanding and compassion, not thoughtlessness, antagonism and vitriol. Instead of backbiting, we should be looking for ways to help each other during this time of great need.
Buy music, then share the tracks you’ve recently purchased on social media so others can listen and potentially buy themselves. Watch all the livestreams you can. If you can afford it, buy that tee-shirt from your favorite artist or record label you’ve long been meaning to. And more importantly, be prepared to give your time and money away to those who will inevitably need it. For example, consider helping independent promoters and venues by not collecting refunds for cancelled gigs. Donate to Nowadays NYC, who are asking for help on Patreon. Or sign up for Berlin Club Commission’s crowdfunding campaign, which will raise money for city’s most vulnerable clubs — and donate when the time comes. (For more resources like this, check out RA’s Coronavirus: How to help the electronic music community). But most importantly, remember what’s at stake.
Our community can make it through this. But only if we prioritize solidarity above all else.
Chandler Shortlidge is the editor of Beatportal. Find him on Twitter.