What does the future of live music look like now, mid & post-pandemic?

October 5, 2020

Restaurants, indoor sports, and pubs seem high on the government’s list of businesses to try and reopen, but what does the future hold for live music? Back in March, we never would’ve thought our next boogie with friends, or after club kebab would be over a year away. Although we could all benefit from some live music to raise our spirits, the government has been scarily silent over the matter.

Hope was high for September to be the month that clubs could re-open and we could all be dancing the night away again. But with the new 10pm government restrictions set to last until March 2021, and social distancing measures tightening, live music will have to adapt to survive.

Indeed, some places have been adapting very creatively. Big London music venues such as Studio 338, Night Tales, and Brixton Jamm have ingeniously been throwing ‘socially distanced raves’. These have strict seating areas of 6, which people must remain in all night, allowing people to see some of their favourite artists such as Dan Shake, Shanti Celeste, and Flume to name a few. Although these are not quite the convulsing crowds that party goers are used to, these venues have a great atmosphere of perseverance and their precise planning allows people to enjoy music even under these strange circumstances.

Sam Fender was another example of a socially distanced gig at Virgin Money Unity Arena in Gosford Park Newcastle. Here the audience was split into groups of 5 in raised socially distanced pens. Although some critics, such as Piers Morgan, took to Twitter to express the weirdness of the situation, people enjoyed being able to experience live music even in a very different setting. 

Drive-in gigs have been another inventive way to safely give people the experience they so desperately crave. These entail people sitting in their cars and tuning into the channel of the gig, staying social distanced but still being able to dance in their Daewoo

We have also seen a huge rise in ‘illegal’ raves, as people have been forced outside of establishments to get their fix of music and find feelings of togetherness. Despite the hefty fine of £10,000 for hosting these events their popularity shows that nothing can stop the appetite for live music and the demand is stronger than ever.

Even though the live music industry has been hit hard, Covid-19 could lead to some positive and innovative changes within the industry. Some artists have been forced to utilise technology to make their music more accessible through live streams and online clubs. Indeed, early on in lockdown some headline artists took to live streaming as a way to directly engage with their fans. Peggy Gou performed a spectacular live stream from the top of the Namsam Seoul Tower in South Korea, which allowed people to enjoy her music from the comfort of their own homes. It also enabled views of this incredible backdrop for her music which would not have been possible without it being live streamed. Moreover, the streaming company Tourlife argue that live streaming is the future of the music industry as it can be broadcast on a global scale and they think it will quickly become the new normal.

Even some huge festivals such as Tomorrowland and Junction 2 have gone virtual, so whilst people won’t be getting their wellies muddy in a field, they will be able to listen to some great tracks from their own gardens. One of the most ingenious online events was the online club Quarantane, which sold tickets over social media. Clubs goers could access this virtual club with an avatar and even go into virtual toilets, or chat rooms to socialise. Whilst this may seem very strange, there are benefits to live music being conducted in this way. Certainly, it is much more sustainable to run large scale events online and this focuses the experience solely on the music rather than gimmicks. So, although we will be dancing from a social distance, we will all still be virtually connected by our love of the music.

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