Art is not created in a vacuum. It is made by artists, human individuals who not only dream up, labor at, and sweat over their art, but who also need to survive, like all of us do. At the very minimum, we need food, water, shelter, clothing, and access to basic goods and services to live, but right now even that access is uncertain for many, especially for those people who work in financially unstable fields or in the gig economy, like every musician does.

The pandemic is causing financial ruin for many of our beloved artists and community members, particularly for those who depend heavily on touring income, common in today’s music industry. That’s not just an obstacle to creativity, it’s actual livelihoods at stake and people being left in desperate situations.

One way to help is to put money directly into the pockets of musicians. That’s exactly what we’re trying to do with Co-Mission: An Artist Relief Compilation. We’re proposing to get money to artists in need in two ways.

First, we’re commissioning new recordings by directly paying musicians for their time and their craft, to track a song in their bedroom, home studio, or whatever safe space they may have and deliver it to us. The artist will retain rights, ownership, and ability to use their recording in any manner they see fit, simply licensing it to us for a period of time and solely for this compilation.

Second, we’re creating the Co-Mission: An Artist Relief Compilation album, a donation-based priced compilation of all of the recordings we’ve commissioned. The compilation will be available on a pay-what-you-will basis on Folkadelphia’s Bandcamp page, where it will also serve as an outlet for these artists to tell visitors in real terms the impact of this pandemic on their life and work. I hope that it will also point listeners and contributors to other tangible ways that they can support these artists, whether that means direct links to purchase albums, Venmo/Paypal accounts, ways to support their other artistic or financial endeavors, or other avenues.

Any and all money that we receive from donations for the Co-Mission compilation album will be pooled back to the original cause – to commission recordings from musicians who have been affected by the current world situation. These new recordings will then become part of the compilation and thus we hope to create a chaining of support directly between people in positions to help and artists in need. If at some point we stop commissioning new recordings, we will have new discussions with each contributor, and likely any donations that we receive will be divided up and distributed equally to the compilation contributors on a prescribed schedule.

We have no grand ambitions with the Co-Mission: An Artist Relief Compilation project and we cannot pay much for each commission. What we do hope for is that this idea will shine a light on the uncertainty that artists are feeling, the plight they are experiencing, and the small ways that those of us in more financially secure positions can lend them extra support and love in these unsettling times.

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