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FYI: You Can Support Great Artists While They’re Alive, Too

You’re allowed to honor artists you respect before they’re gone. Here are some no-fail tips and tricks to get you started!
VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA - FEBRUARY 01: Singer-songwriter Sinead O'Connor performs on stage at Vogue Theatre on February 01, 2020 in Vancouver, Canada. (Photo by Andrew Chin/Getty Images)

Tired of waiting until your “favorite” artist passes away to claim they’re you’re favorite? Well, this is your lucky day! Now you can actually support and honor them while they’re still alive. And, by golly, it’s so easy, absolutely anyone can do it. 

Best of all, the benefits of doing so are two-fold: You get to enjoy and witness the evolution of their artistry in real time and they get the benefit of support while they are here on earth. The latter helps them keep going to produce more art. 

What’s more, this isn’t just about music. It applies to creatives of all kinds: independent filmmakers, sculptors, printmakers, performance artists, digital creators. Know a writer who just self-publishing her first novel? You can buy it, read it, review it, and call her a genius before she wins a posthumous Pulitzer. Recognize a talented painter who’s struggling to make ends meet? Chances are, purchasing something from them now (today, before they are gone) will mean more to them than when Christie’s anoints them at auction after they’re dead. Bandwagons be-gone! You’re free to call it early and let the artist – even if it’s in a quiet way – know they’re appreciated.

Best yet, “support” doesn’t have to cost any money at all. There’s lots you can do that won’t cost you a penny. 

However, you will be required to care a little bit and not rely on validation from the nameless, faceless masses. Free thinking and giving a shit are definite musts.

So, what defines “greatness”? Anyone you want to get behind. “Great” defies genre, make, and model. And if you don’t know by now that “great” has nothing to do with commercial success — now you do. Support whomever you choose, though your support will go so much farther with artists who are operating on a smaller scale. 

Here are some easy tips to get you started today: 

1.    Join their email list, follow them on social media, like and comment (you know the drill—it’s all free).

2.    When they release a single, buy it. That won’t cost much. Numbers matter.  

3.    If you can’t afford to purchase fresh merch, you can showcase the artist’s legacy by purchasing used merch via eBay, where many collectors are selling their pre-loved possessions. Some of these items are in good shape and very inexpensive. The money won’t go towards the artist, but you’re still promoting them and helping someone else out in the process. 

4.    For many reasons, live shows aren’t accessible for everyone. In the world of small, local venues, the show is often free or will cost every little. Go. Support live music however you can. Your presence will be so appreciated.

5.    When they ask for help, help them. Help can look like a supportive social media comment and standing guard when critics attack them. 

6.    Protect them against bullies. Just because someone’s a public figure doesn’t mean they are invulnerable. Even more, if they’re a public figure who has taken risks —protested against inhumane acts, for example — they’re using their voice for our communal benefit. 

So, let’s pretend a female singer peacefully protests a well-known corrupt organization and some grammatically challenged actor says he would have “gave her such a smack,” you have the option to tell him to fuck off.

Likewise, when an overrated crooner says, publicly, “he’d kick her ass if she was a guy”— tell him to fuck off, too.

Bullies are cowards. They need followers. If you don’t want to stand up to them, simply don’t follow them.

How would you feel if you said or did something controversial, off the accepted path, and the whole world turned on you? Wouldn’t you feel misunderstood? What are the lasting effects? Try to think of that the next time an artist challenges something passionately and everyone turns on them. 

And in case you’re wondering… no, it’s not your job to devote all your time and energy to keeping an artist alive. However, art of all kinds makes our world warmer and worth living. You already get so much for free.

It is our job, collectively, to keep the arts alive.

Artists who are ahead of their time often need the most support in the here and now. Why wait until they’re gone?