Local musicians use live-streaming to give Hoosiers hope, happiness while giving back to those in need

In Your Neighborhood

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — For many, music is a sort of therapy. Therefore, the shutdown of music and entertainment venues amid the corona virus outbreak added even more of a sting to the current situation for local music lovers.

Fortunately, when Hoosiers could no longer head out to enjoy their favorite local artists, Indiana’s local artists brought the music back to them.

To add even more music to their ears? In the process, musicians also found a way to give back to their fans, the service industry, and even the medical community in a multitude of ways.

We’re staying home but turning up the volume for this visit In Your Neighborhood.

“When your job relies on having a gig, which is music..whether you’re top or bottom, it’s a gig. So It hit pretty hard because we had a list of shows lined up for March, April….that’s when we start to pick up and the bank account starts dwindling,” explained Indiana’s own Clayton Anderson. “So it was a pretty big, ‘Oh my Gosh, what are we going to do?”

Well, if you’re Anderson, you’re going to throw a concert for a crowd of absolutely no one.

At least, not in-person. 

Photo Credit: Clayton Anderson official Facebook Page

He and his band had already done a couple of live streamed shows while in quarantine together on Facebook. That’s how he realized there was an opportunity to use their virtual platform to do something even bigger than simply entertaining.

“I thought it’d be really cool to create kind of a community to take care of each other,” he explained.

Within a short time, his quarantine Facebook lives morphed into something bigger… a full-on concert— sans audience— in one of the most popular live music venues in downtown Indianapolis.

“Bud Light came on board, drink distributors here in Indianapolis and it’s been a blessing to have them,” said Anderson. “And it kind of snowballed into where the Pan Am Pavilion has jumped on.”

Then, on April 2nd, Anderson and his band hit the stage at Pan Am Pavilion with a mission to raise money for local bartenders and servers.

“We set a goal of raising $10,000,” he noted. “Anheuser-Busch and Zink Distributors are going to match that  up to $10,000 so… the sky’s the limit.”

So far, they’ve already raised about $6,000, but they’re pressing on with even more live-streamed shows on Facebook in hopes of reaching the goal 

 In the midst of these tough times, Anderson admits it’s difficult to ask for money— especially since he’s never been the type of artist who plays for tips—- but their goal of helping his friends and colleagues in the industry was a clear and necessary focus. 

“We’re trying to take care of one another and the folks out there who have a little spare pocket change— maybe a couple dollars— we would love to have you donate to the  fundly.com/indybars account.”

And he’s not the only one using an online platform to raise money for struggling service industry employees.

Some of indy’s most popular DJs have also been streaming with a similar goal. Such as Austin Tyler— also known as DJ Trilli— who  rallied over two dozen of his closest DJ friends for a 25-hour digital streaming music festival called “Togetherness.” 

“We got it rolling Saturday at 3 o’clock and went through until 5pm on Sunday,” he said. “Within that time, we had 25 DJs that either sent me a recorded mix or they sent me them with their webcams and everything.”

Instead of buying a traditional admission ticket, viewers made a donation and all proceeds were gifted back to service industry workers.

“We raised a little over a thousand dollars that we are going to donate to all the service industry,” Tyler noted. “We’re just randomly selecting people based on a dispersement amount that we came up with, which is like $50. We kind of figured that’s a decent grocery run.”

Another local DJ, Jake Massey, is using his talent and network to give back to healthcare workers. As a registered nurse, he deeply understands the need for nurses and medical staff to have the necessary personal protective equipment to best do their jobs safely. So, he combined the inspiration from his “day-job” as an RN as well as his stage persona, “DJ Mass Appeal” to launch his  “Mask Appeal” fundraiser, which raised almost $3,000 in the first few days. 

Photo Credit: DJ Mass Appeal Facebook Page

His main goal is using the funds to procure a large quantity of personal protective equipment to send to nurses in America’s hardest hit areas, like New York and New Orleans.

Another goal is simply spreading good vibes through music.

And that is a movement musicians of all genres are getting behind. Like the Carmel Symphony Orchestra, which recently launched free weekly shows on Facebook.

Photo Credit: Carmel Symphony Orchestra Facebook page

And then there’s Purdue University’s favorite piano man, Bruce Barker. A few weeks ago, Barker went viral after sitting down at the piano in his basement in a lively tropical shirt for his first-ever “Quarantined Cactus” live stream. For two hours that night, Barker united Boilermakers past and present, from all over the nation and world through classic songs like Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin” and Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline”.

Those beloved sing-alongs took viewers out of their current reality and off on a trip down memory lane… back to their time at the Neon Cactus (a highly popular bar for college students and locals where Barker has been the resident piano man for 25 years) in West Lafayette.  The stream was shared so many times, it ended up garnering over 219,000 views and 57,000 comments. And nearly all of those comments echo the same thing: a hearty “Thank You” for some much-needed music therapy.

Photo Credit: Bruce Barker Facebook page

Four Things You Need to Know About Local Musicians’ Efforts to Make a Difference, From a Distance: 

  • One of the heavily impacted industries since the coronavirus outbreak (and the related shutdowns) is that of local musicians/artists, including DJs like Austin Tyler. “What a lot of people don’t realize is that pretty much every DJ is self-employed,” he explained. “We’re all 1099 workers…So while pretty much everyone else in the service industry is receiving unemployment benefits, currently we’re not until the state updates on the [CARES Act] that was just passed.” Despite their own struggles, local DJs and other artists have all banded together to raise money for their fellow service industry workers through live-streamed performances on platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitch.
  • Some of those efforts that were specifically aimed at supporting local service industry workers include a 25-hour virtual music festival by dozens of DJs as a fundraising effort, as well as a large-scale live streamed concert featuring popular Indiana-based musician, Clayton Anderson, which was broadcast from downtown’s Pan Am Pavilion. Anderson even teamed up with Bud Light and local distributors to raise $10,000 for local bartenders and servers through that show and his other “Live in Quarantine” streamed shows. 
  • All of the artists we spoke to shared a common desire to bring some joy and normalcy back to people through music. “Music really affects your life,” said Anderson. “[And] If you have a positive mindset you can get through anything… so We’re gonna keep doing this for as long as it takes.” Austin Tyler (also known as DJ Trilli) agrees, saying “If you go and look at any of the streams that people are doing…people are saying ‘This at least lets us feel a little bit normal for an hour or two a day…I even played on my porch for a couple hours and nearly everybody that walked by just had a huge smile so you could tell music was helping.”
  • Initially intended to entertain and bring joy to whoever tuned in, Bruce Barker’s first “Quarantined Cactus” stream ended up going viral. Since then, he’s turned his live stream into a weekly tradition and has used his momentum (and his well-known status as Purdue University’s favorite piano man) to start raising money by selling his own “Basement Quarantine Show” T-shirts.  Within one week of launching, he was able to gift $5,000 in proceeds to a local food pantry. 
Photo Credit: Bruce Barker Facebook page

To learn more about how to tune in and/or support some of these artist’s efforts to make a difference through their craft, check out the following links:

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