Let’s set the scene. Indistinguishable chatter fills the venue. There’s a continuous buzz. Are they going to come out on time, or will we be left to wait? You bellow out to the chorus of a current song in the chart. You begin to get restless, but the excitement keeps you going.
A wave of emotions fills the atmosphere, soaring. One, two, four, now all lights close onto the band. Backlit, you distinguish the artist appearing onstage. Then the strum of a guitar.
Alright, let’s not tiptoe. The next time we’ll be experiencing another major music event is a long way away. Thousands of live music events have been postponed or worse, cancelled, due to COVID-19.
With the current government guidelines including a ban on large gatherings, hundreds of music venues have had to close their doors, leaving those working in the sector in uncertainty. Music fans have had to come to terms with the fact that we will not see live events back to where they were before COVID-19 any time soon. Unfortunately, the earliest turnaround may not be until early 2021, and that’s being very optimistic.
My love for live events is bewildering to some. In 2018 I met my peak of attending over 30 concerts for that year alone. Since then, I have been able to witness a phenomenal range of live events at home in London and across the pond. From festivals such as Demon Dayz, Lovebox and Wireless to Place + Faces events, Travis Scott’s ground-breaking tour and the Brit Awards. The variety of live events in the UK is overwhelming. Yet, it brings me peace of mind.
I don’t recall the last time I’ve gone over 45 days without attending at least one live music event. Withdrawing from the thrill of live music is taking a lot of getting used to. Nonetheless, the halt hasn’t put an end to people sharing music.
The rise of virtual live events
Virtual live events have swarmed the internet. Artists such as Lianne La Havas have streamed a Tiny Desk (Home) Concert on YouTube available to watch back on NPR Music’s channel.
With artist closer to home, we’ve seen,
- Grandunionorchestra use both Instagram and YouTube to live stream performances from the likes of Mahesh Paker, a pianist and tabla player
- Mahogany using Instagram live stream, streaming upcoming artists Hamzaa, Violet Skies and Kyan
- Blogontheque also using Instagram live stream #StayAwayShows, streaming the likes of Arlo Parks, Olivia Dean and more
- ‘At Home with Lovelle’, upcoming artist Lovelle’s Therapy EP launch via AcousticLiveUK Instagram live
- Bandsintown streaming Joy Crookes via Instagram live stream.
New ways for fans to engage with artists
Live-streaming concerts on YouTube isn’t a new idea – last year YouTube live-streamed The Rated Legend Show in tribute to late rapper Cadet. Now,Tory Lanez has tried out an innovative and alternative way of sharing music with fans whilst in lockdown to stream his #SocialDistanceTour.
Fans were able to interact first-hand with the artist, request their favourite songs and personalise how they wanted the live stream concert to look by changing the lighting. Although paid, Tory proclaimed he would donate “a PERCENTAGE of the proceeds to CHARITY … let’s gooo *da baby voice*” on his Instagram post announcing the news.
We’ve even seen new ways artists engage with their fans when releasing new music (Travis Scott recently used Fortnite to create a virtual experience, premiering a brand-new track).
Music battles have now become a trend over quarantine. In April, Skepta and JAE5 went back-to-back with songs they’ve produced. Also, Teddy Riley and Babyface battled each other as well as Erykah Badu v Jill Scott using Instagram live via verzuztv.
We’ve even seen a homegrown black-owned radio station, No Signal, trending frequently on Twitter. Over 670K people pressed play in 99+ countries on their website to tune in for the #NS10v10 Vybz Kartel and WizKid head-to-head.
Created by Jojo and David Sonubi, No Signal’s daily programmes continue to entertain thousands of people, with artists chiming in to share exclusive new music (Ramz) or a few words (Burna Boy). With epic moments like this, there is nothing to say that people won’t find camaraderie at home.
The future of live streams
The abundance of live streaming is filling a void by sustaining an artist-fan relationship in the comfort of our homes. It’s mostly cost-free for both parties, and with the minimal actioning to put a live streaming event on, I envision live streaming prospering even when live music events return.
Artists get to connect with thousands of fans internationally in real-time as well as fans getting to interact with one another in a way that live events don’t allow. In my opinion, live streaming is great! Especially for when we eventually get back on our feet with our typical day-to-day lives and busy schedule. It’s more affordable and trouble-free. No need to set your alarms to secure tickets; everybody can watch!
The future of live events
Sadly, getting live music back on its feet is going to take an insufferably long time. But one thing I hope changes post-COVID19 is that the live music industry reboots itself. There is so much potential in British live music events, yet recently, we keep missing some of the key specs that make live music the beauty it is. There’s a lack of engaging performance and owning the stage, driving the crowd, theatrics and natural interactions with the audience. The live event experience has many faults, including the sound system volume in multiple venues and artist performances. Like me, many music fans have had their issues.
“I personally think artists themselves also need to work harder to make concerts a memorable experience. Concert tickets cost so much nowadays that I think artists should be putting more thought, effort and work into their performance, e.g. for example the set design, dancers, actual have live music and musicians, etc.” - Zen
Merging the real and virtual
Post-COVID19, I would like to witness the birth of a new era in live music. To not considering a merge of virtual and live events during tours would be crazy. In 2012, at Coachella in the US, we saw a Tupac hologram during Snoop Dogg and Dr Dre’s performance! DJs such as Calvin Harris’ tours include multiple screens than even tilt flat. With that said, maybe we’ll be able to reach that Boomtown euphoria inside O2 Academy Venues and all venues across London.
In general artists make most of their income through touring, so we may start to see charges for fans to join live streams. There’s a possibility that we may see a new subscription-based platform birthed to support artists from the effects of COVID19; something that could satiate fans and keep artists afloat.
For now, COVID19 is affecting many artists and venues, and that won’t be changing anytime soon. To continue to support them during this time, keep streaming and check out the following sites to see how you can help make a difference!
Remember #StayHome and #StaySafe
Written by Kara Allen