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How to Support Your Favorite Artist: A Guide for Real Fans

Photo by Josephine Bevan / Unsplash

A recent study on music streaming platforms has revealed a concerning trend: in 2023, 86% of music had less than 1,000 plays. This means that out of about 184 million tracks on platforms like Spotify and Apple Music, 158.6 million were listened to less than 1,000 times. Even more alarming is that 45.6 million songs (24.8%) were not streamed at all.

Musicians earn money on these platforms based on the number of streams, with about 6 cents per 100 streams. However, even those who manage to get a few plays may not receive any royalties, as Spotify has announced that they will not pay for tracks with less than 1,000 streams. It was initially meant to be a way of overcoming “artificial streaming” money loss. But even though the intention was to deliver that money to honest artists, this initiative turned out to be harmful to niche and underground music makers.

This is just one of the reasons why it's crucial to help and support the artists you like. It also makes sense to concentrate on the less popular musicians, as this provides them with motivation and resources to continue their journey and improve the quality of their music. We will show you some ways to support music artists apart from just listening to them because, as you have already seen, this might not be enough.

Buy a Ticket to Their Concert

This may be the most obvious advice. If you want to support an artist – purchase a ticket to their concert! This will be a great help in many ways. Firstly, you will help to cover the expenses of renting the space and maybe traveling costs as well. Some musicians go on tour to their disadvantage just to get more people to know them. It is also possible that some less-known musicians play as a support act for other musical artists, and you can also enjoy some similar music.

Secondly, being a part of the crowd at the concert may be a great act of appreciation, especially if the audience is not that big. Seeing people who really enjoy the music is a big motivation for the artists. Finally, taking photos and filming at the concerts and publishing them on your social media can be a great help to artists. They can find out which songs or performances their audience loves the most and use this information to make their setlists or stage presence even better for future shows.

Follow Them on Social Media

Social media accounts are usually musicians' primary source of audience and income. Following them makes it easier to grow further, as a more significant follower base tells algorithms that people are interested in a musical artist. This way, your favorite musician's content appears in recommendations for other people who might also like this type of music. You can also help an artist grow by raising their engagement rates. This can be done by almost any activity on their social media pages: likes or any reactions to their posts, commenting, reposting, and sharing content with others. This can undoubtedly boost engagement metrics and increase visibility.

Finally, it's a great way to build a sense of community among fans and musicians. When fans come together to support and interact with an artist online, it creates a shared sense of belonging to something bigger. It's a beautiful way to connect with other music lovers and show musicians your appreciation by providing feedback and promoting them.

Tip: Some musicians publish their upcoming concerts on their Spotify page

Buy Their Merchandise

Merchandise is a better income source for the artists. According to Intercept Music, the average artist made over $10,000 per show in Gross Merchandise Sales in 2023. This is 16 times more than the average artist made in Spotify streaming royalties in a year. And as per atVenu’s 2021 review, on average, each T-shirt sale is equivalent to almost 9,000 streams. Thus, if we compare merch sales income with the revenue from streaming and music sales, selling merch is more profitable than music streaming. Even artists with fewer than 500 attendees on their shows made three times more from merchandise than streaming royalties. Sounds sad, I know.  

But many musical artists really go beyond selling simple T-shirts and rubber bands and start making more exciting stuff like craft candles, vinyl, or glasses for your favorite drinks. Some even go beyond that.

For example, Mayberg band members have planned a new merch series that is going to be as sustainable and environmentally friendly as possible. Die Toten Hosen band has decided to go a German way and made their own beer brand, which you can try and buy a whole crate for if you like it.

In addition to making a financial impact, you can also help strengthen musicians‘ identities. To some extent, you participate in their advertisement and spread awareness about an artist while using their merch, and people may become interested in listening. Moreover, buying merch adds a sense of value and connection to your favorite musicians and the whole community.

Many musicians integrate some kind of donation system into their social media or websites. This could be a link to their Patreon, Ko-fi, or other similar services. The donation system may also be part of their Spotify page that is connected to PayPal. There are also chances to tip the artists at their concerts, especially if it is a type of concert where you decide how much to pay for a ticket.

Bandcamp is one of the most well-known apps for donating directly to musical artists. It is also usually described as an artist-friendly platform aimed at digital music distribution whose profit split to the artists is the highest among similar services. It might be a great alternative to buying CDs and vinyl, especially when your money goes straight to a musician or a band. You can purchase individual tracks or whole albums in digital format, and in many cases, you have the option of flexible pricing based on what you are willing to pay.

This is important because many musicians, especially those who are independent or less known, face financial struggles and would benefit from financial assistance to cover equipment upgrades and studio costs. Thinking of the recent Spotify payment changes, you can clearly see that direct donations and tips can be a fantastic way to show your appreciation for their work. In addition, your donations, especially if they are regular, are a way more substantial and regular income than listening platform payments.

Buy Their Vinyl

The world of music has seen a great rise in vinyl sales over the past decade. You can even see stands with vinyl records in some stores that seem to be selling other stuff, like clothes or books. There are many reasons for this, including nostalgia, style and the way a record player looks in a room design. Finally, the sound quality is better because it's analogue music, not digital. A true audiophile's dream. In addition, vinyl records can become collectables, especially if they are rare. Owning a physical copy of an album is like owning a piece of music history.

Urban Outfitters selling vinyl

The rise in sales is one of the main reasons why even niche artists have started to make their own vinyl and place it on their merch websites. Buying vinyl records directly from the artist or independent record stores means more of your money goes to the creators and shows your love and support for their efforts. Let your sound nostalgia also help the artists!

Choose the Right Streaming

As you already know, Spotify is not on top of the list of highest-paying streaming platforms on the market. What is more, Amazon music, YouTube Music and SoundCloud pay even less. This might be a great motivation to switch to some of the less popular platforms to make your favorite musicians’ revenue from streaming higher. Here is the list of the platforms that pay more than $0.00437 (Spotify rate) per stream:

  • Qobuz: $0.022 per stream
  • Napster: $0.019 - $0.021 per stream
  • Tidal: $0.013 per stream
  • Deezer: $0.0064 per stream
  • Apple Music: $0.0056 - $0.0078 per stream

There are also great advantages in using some of the platforms in addition to better support of musicians. For example, Qobuz promises the best music quality among streaming platforms (Hi-Res Audio). Napster allows you to watch music videos without advertisement interruptions and has great sound quality as well. Tidal offers a variety of music formats like full lossless, HiRes FLAC, and Dolby Atmos for a better listening experience. Of course, the subscription price may be higher, but remember that more of your money goes to musical artists you really like.

Make a Playlist With Their Music

Many music streaming platforms offer the opportunity to create playlists that are available to the public. There are several reasons why this can help musicians gain more streams and popularity. First, it helps new audiences discover artists. Fans sharing playlists featuring an artist's songs help them gain more followers and fans. For example, you can compile a playlist of a certain genre and mood or even make a playlist of very similar songs to help others discover some new music that is worthy of their attention in their favorite genre. For example, some people make playlists that are literally called “songs like…” that gain quite a lot of saves.

Or you can even try to make a playlist for a certain mood like a lot of other users do, like “Songs to Sing in the Shower” or anything that you feel suits the songs of musical artists and similar songs. Don’t forget to name it respectively so that other people can find a playlist while searching for certain music. In addition, when an artist's songs are included in playlists that get engagement and keep listeners, it shows the platform's algorithms that the music is popular and should be recommended to other users. This can lead to more exposure and placement on algorithmic playlists, which will expand the artist's audience and make the number of streams (and the revenue) bigger.

Diversity of Support is Bliss for any Musician

It's so crucial for a musician to have a variety of income sources! Especially when it comes to streaming royalties, which can be pretty unpredictable. Different ways to make money, like concert ticket sales, merchandise, direct donations, and streaming revenue, can help musicians financially. There are lots of reasons why. Recently, the music industry has seen some significant changes. Lots of music is now streamed, which means that many tracks go unnoticed. This can mean that artists don't earn as much money as they could from their work.

So, it's really helpful to support musicians in other ways, too, and try to counterbalance the streaming income. It's so important for musicians to have many different types of support. This helps them to be resilient, flexible, and free to do what they love in an industry that can sometimes be quite competitive.