How the music industry reacted to an upside-down 2020

How the music industry reacted to an upside-down 2020 American Express

2020 will truly be one of those years we never forget. From disastrous, fiery beginnings to a world-shaking pandemic, the year has frozen industries in a way many of us have never experienced – or likely will again.

Earlier this year we spoke to Bob Geldof who called musicians the Pied Pipers of society, which is a claim that rings true. Artists and the industry built around them are often where people look to for hope, inspiration, and entertainment when they need it most.

If 2020 has shown us anything, it’s that this industry still has the power to enact positive change, not simply through the brute force of celebrity or cultural influence, but also thanks to a finely-tuned sensitivity to what the world needs to hear.

Backing the Crew

The Australian music industry, even at its peaks, relies on a class of generous do-gooders to keep the wheels spinning. Cash injections such as touring or recording grants are the most obvious examples, but there’s also a number of initiatives out there providing non-financial support and opportunities for less privileged artists, overwhelmed industry workers, and anyone else in need of a helping hand.

Most recently American Express announced a $1 million Music Backers Fund to be invested directly into the Australian music industry through a number of initiatives anyone can apply for. There are grants for businesses and artists for up to $50K, coveted studio time if you’re looking to record that next hit, and even a Nominate a Mate option for your chance to give $1,500 to a friend doing awesome work in the music space

Looking back to earlier in the year, Support Act and a number of similar charities launched emergency appeals in the face of a government who, let’s be real, wasn’t giving the arts community the time of day.

And of course, a thanks needs to be given to every fan who bought an extra piece of merch, held onto a rescheduled concert ticket, or bought a record when Bandcamp redirected their sales revenue directly to artists. Despite being unable to tour, indie and non-major label artists such as Lime Cordiale and Spacey Jane all achieved #1 ARIA albums during the pandemic. Not bad, huh?

How the music industry reacted to an upside-down 2020

Keep the Music Playing

Early-to-mid 2020 was just another reminder of music’s power to bring light to even the least chill situations. Locked inside, online events such as Isol-Aid festival or Powderfinger’s One Night Lonely performance were live streamed to massive audiences, harnessing the power of social media to connect fans with one another, wherever they were.

The Sydney Opera House broadcasted Australia’s finest on the big stage, no seated audience needed. And once restrictions eased a little, a host of special sit-down shows flew through the nation, welcoming our favourite artists back onto the stage for intimate gatherings. Both a taste of what we lost, and what we have to look forward to.

Looking Ahead

As it stands 2020 is almost at a close, and depending on where you are in Australia, you’re either enjoying live music back in force or bunkering down, doing your part to minimise a life-threatening pandemic. Wherever you are, know that if anyone’s going to have your back, it’s a national music industry that puts people first.

And hey – when this is all over, I’ll see you in the pit.


Find out more about or apply for the American Express Music Backers Fund here, and find a full list of terms and conditions here.