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18 ways to support musicians

I have an article in today's Financial Times about music philanthropy, for which I spoke to some of the legion of generous souls who help nurture the UK's young musicians. It turns out that you don’t have to be rich to be a philanthropist, though: musicians’ needs are many and varied, and some of them can be met without spending a penny. Here are a few, ranging from free moral support to big-figure transactions:

  1. Join a mailing list: you’re more likely to go to concerts and events

  2. Like an artist’s Facebook page or follow their Twitter feed: you’ll be able to keep in touch, and it always looks good to promoters to see that an artist has lots of followers. Some artists do really personal social media feeds and even respond to comments, so you might also get to know them and enjoy their musical travels vicariously

  3. Go to performances at music conservatoires: watching young players in their earliest stages can be fascinating and even inspiring, and if you’re good at talent spotting, you might end up enjoying and supporting these players for life

  4. Get involved in local music festivals: they always need help, and it’s an excellent way to get to know young players

  5. Join your local music society

  6. Go backstage after concerts: everyone likes nice feedback, especially after a concert, so be free and generous with your praise (but don’t stalk!). This is also an excellent way to get to know the players you like, and very often these conversations lead to being able to support them in more concrete ways

  7. Lend a room for rehearsals: chamber musicians often have problems finding big enough rehearsal spaces, especially if they’re all travelling from abroad. If you have a big living room, you can help them out

  8. Offer your piano out: once students graduate they may find it hard to find good instruments to practise and rehearse on

  9. Put on a house concert: this is a great way to offer exposure and performance practice to young musicians, and to raise money for charity. Win–win!

  10. Set up a charity event to raise funds

  11. Host visiting musicians: competitions and festivals often need people to help with this, saving hotel fees

  12. Become a trustee: music organisations always need people with specific business skills on their boards. Being a trustee doesn’t necessarily take up a lot of time, but can be an extremely rewarding way of supporting musicians and learning new aspects of the music business (and it also looks good on your CV)

  13. Offer pro bono advice: legal, tax, marketing advice – musicians need it all and can benefit hugely from some well-chosen words, but often don’t know where to turn

  14. Donate money: feel a warm glow – simple

  15. Endow money for scholarships or chairs at schools, universities and orchestras

  16. Contribute to recordings through crowd-funding sites: it’s hard to get a recording contract these days, so musicians are increasingly going it alone and raising money from their fans. They usually offer a variety of benefits to those who donate, making it a fun and worthwhile transaction

  17. Join an instrument syndicate scheme: some of these veer away from philanthropy into investment, but if set up well and fairly, so that the player can think of the instrument in a long-term way, it can be good for both sides

  18. Buy and lend out an instrument outright – again, as long as the needs of both sides are taken into account, this can be a good result. If you don’t want to spend millions, think about buying or commissioning a modern instrument

Have I missed any ways of supporting musicians? How have you been helped by philanthropy?

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