These days turned out nothing like we’d planned.

With Covid cratering the live music sector and grounding travel, artists turned to live streaming in 2020 to stay connected with their fans and — with luck — make a buck.

One ingenious platform that switched on during the darkest days of the pandemic is Serenade, which today (29th January) announces Bernard Fanning as its February Patron Artist, a monthly initiative that sees a headline act selected to sign up, then tap three support acts to whom they pay it forward.

For his Patron Artist Support Acts, Fanning recruits three fellow Queensland artists: multi-instrumentalist and multiple Q Music Award winner Emily Wurramara; The Gin Club and Giants of Science bandleader Ben Salter, and rising alt-pop singer and songwriter Hope-D, whose latest single ‘Second’ cracked triple j’s Hottest 100 countdown.

The brainchild of entrepreneur Max Shand, Serenade enables music fans to go direct to artists and purchase a personalised, virtual — and shareable — performance.

Fans of Fanning and the ‘Finger can get score an exclusive, one-off performance with the veteran Brisbane singer for $1,000.

Max Shand


The platform was created in May 2000, and soft launched to the industry in 1st September, with 30 artists plugged in.

Just six weeks later, more than 70 artists are on board.

According to reps, the platform is growing fast, getting broader and adding bigger names, with Tim Rogers, Solo (Horrorshow) and Tia Gostelow among the newest additions to the Serenade roster.

Fanning stopped by ABC Breakfast on Friday to discuss the dire state of business for touring artists, and the way forward.

“We’re doing what we can as artists, basically, to try and be able to get out there and entertain people again,” he explained from his studio, “and also to provide employment for all the people that are in the arts industry that’s crippled by Covid.”

It’s not the first time Fanning has paid it forward during the pandemic. Last year, the rocker and his former Powderfinger bandmates performed the One Night Lonely virtual concert, which raised more than $500,000 for music industry charity Support Act and mental wellbeing support service Beyond Blue.