Many of us are already starting to go stir-crazy at home, and social-distancing measures haven’t even been in place for a week. If you can afford to invest in new music, now’s the time. Did you get ticket refunds for the canceled shows you were planning to go see? Or do you just have beer money in your pocket that you suddenly can’t spend? You can use it to support musicians without making the pandemic worse.

COVID-19 has hit musicians hard—most have had to cancel or postpone tours and upcoming shows. Venues and bars have shut their doors until the end of March, possibly much longer, leaving many industry workers without income for the foreseeable future. Lots of bands rely on touring and selling merchandise at shows, so as important as these cancellations are for public health, they could also mean artists won’t have enough money to pay bills or rent.

Thankfully for musicians, they have an advantage over other artists suffering from the pandemic—unlike theatrical actors or dancers, for instance, they can easily sell their work digitally or by mail. This Tuesday, online music company Bandcamp announced that it would waive its usual revenue share on Friday, March 20, and pass along 100 percent of proceeds from all sales to artists. (For these purposes, Friday lasts from midnight to midnight, Pacific Daylight Time.)

Some artists let customers name their price for downloads, and it’ll be especially helpful now to name the biggest number you can. When there is a fixed asking price, Bandcamp also allows buyers to pay more if they’d like to show extra support. If you want to offer encouragement beyond money, you can add a note or a review of your purchase. The Friday waiver is a small step on Bandcamp’s part, but it could go a long way for musicians—especially if it drives a big sales spike in downloads and merchandise.

Bandcamp offers a huge universe of music, as well as tools to help you discover artists from around the world. It’s also a great way to explore the scene outside your doorstep without leaving your home—you can find a new local favorite and extend a hand to your musician neighbors. These six Chicago acts are a fine place to start: they all have music on Bandcamp, and they’ve all had to cancel or postpone shows due to COVID-19 precautions.

Uma Bloo
“Marguerite’s Novels”

Fans of Angel Olsen or Lucy Dacus should be keen on Uma Bloo’s soft bedroom-pop sound. After the singer-songwriter canceled a March 26 DIY show and a March 27 date at Cole’s Bar, she wrote on Facebook that she’s taking this involuntary time away from live dates to focus on writing. Bloo released her latest single, “Marguerite’s Novels,” last month, and it’s perfect for pining in solitude over a love kept at a pandemic-imposed distance.

Half Gringa

With her band Half Gringa, singer-songwriter Izzy Olive sings of identity, ethnicity, and self-exploration with an indie-folk twang. Her solo set at the Hideout on March 25 was canceled, but she’s announced on Facebook that she’ll livestream a set the same night. You can get a sneak peek with the languid 2019 single “Teggsas” (pronounced like “Texas”)—it’s as expansive as the Lone Star State, and worth more than the $1 Olive is asking for it.

Split 12-inch with Triac

Thrashcore band Sick/Tired haven’t put out new music since 2016, but they remain a staple at underground punk and hardcore shows—they were supposed to play Subterranean on March 21. The four-piece’s discography is full of seven-inch splits with fellow thrash bands such as Baltimore’s Triac and Fort Wayne’s Nak’ay. You may not be scared of COVID-19, but Sick/Tired’s mix of guttural death growls and piercing emoviolence screams will make the hair stand up on your neck.

Teased Pt. II: “Shockin’ and Rockin’ You”

Shoegazers Sorespot released the cassette Teased Pt. II: “Shockin’ and Rockin’ You” in December to preview tracks from the album Gifts of Consciousness, set for release April 2. The airy harmonies of vocalists Maggie Gard and Josh Snader float above murky reverbed melodies. The band will let you have the three-song tape for free, but it’s tempting enough to be worth throwing down a few bucks.

Change Is Bad

Postpunk quartet Stuck will release their first full-length, Change Is Bad, on Friday, April 3. While their record-release show that day at the Hideout is still on the books, it doesn’t seem likely to stay that way—and the rest of their tour through the east coast and Canada has already been canceled. The single “Bells” is streaming now, and you can preorder the entire album (digitally for $7 or on vinyl for $15).

Nothing Blues

Typesetter’s discography deserves a deep listen—especially now that you can’t hear the band play its highlights on March 23 at Sleeping Village, where they were supposed to open for UK hardcore band Petrol Girls. Formed in 2012, they’ve got a sound that spans the vast landscape of hardcore-adjacent genres—it can be as gentle as twinkly midwest emo or as rough as the feedback fuzz of modern posthardcore. Their 2018 album, Nothing Blues, displays the best of the band’s versatile experimentation, and it’s yours for $8 digitally or $18 on vinyl.  v