It’s been more than six months since various states imposed lockdown supplemented with strict public health regulations in response to the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Performing artists and the entertainment industry professionals have faced the worst of it.
With digital streaming becoming a major player in music consumption, royalty rates were already dipping ever so low. In such a scenario, live performances or concerts were the most bankable option for music creators.
Now, with live concerts on a hiatus due to lockdown, music creators are forced to resort to live-streaming and online concerts. Digital “tip-jar” contributions, watch-party tickets for performances, or royalties from the different programs associated with government or non-government organizations have become regular revenue collection tools in the days of the pandemic.
Now that India has become the third worst-hit country by the pandemic, it’s highly unlikely that the restrictions imposed here on social gatherings are going to be lifted or even eased anytime soon.
The good news is, ingenuity is conquering isolation with adaptability.
To the challenge of conducting shows at home, Musicians are coming up rather creatively, aptly demonstrating that necessity is, in fact, the mother of invention.
This is one idea that has merged elements from two different worlds in an unprecedented fashion. Cool drive-ins ringing with the music of your favorite artist is quite a rejuvenating experience. For many, drive-in concerts is equivalent to a quaint, nostalgic memory.
The very popular Greek singer Natasa Theodoridou performed in a soccer stadium at Athens where all the 300 car positions were filled out of 7000 applications in a lottery. Organized by the town municipality, the event witnessed hundreds of spectators enjoying a free, memorable performance from sunroofs and hoods of parked vehicles, taking precautions, within regulations.
The detail of avoiding crowds and maintaining distance has given birth to the idea of Micro-concerts. A micro-concert is similar to a concert in that a musician gives a live performance in front of a live audience. But unlike a regular concert, a micro-concert has an audience of two or maybe four people max.
Micro-concerts have seen people opening up their backyards or rooftops, terraces, or lawns to serve as stages. Famous rock band Queen’s guitarist Brian May chose Micro concert in an attempt to “isolate and keep rocking together”
Musicians have adapted to and adopted the digital life. Guitarist Jose Thomas who has been using WhatsApp video calls and Skype to teach his online guitar classes and many others like him has understood that a smartphone with an internet connection is enough to make a difference.
Despite factors like connectivity, audio quality, and lack of face-to-face interaction can sometimes become major issues, a lot of organizations have started conducting virtual interviews and concerts in a bid to maintain followership and fanbase.
Some Other Ideas –
- Thank God for Social media, musicians can host watch parties, share music and stories through “Ask Me Anything sessions”, enabling fans to keep up.
- Municipalities across the country might allow restaurants to host open patio performances, in a joint bid to help out restaurants and musicians within regulations. Why not allow live shows at public parks, as long as the audience maintains (moderately enforced) social distancing?
- With all music projects turning into bedroom projects, artists are realizing that this is perhaps the best time for collaborations with other artists, even with international artists.
- Crowdfunding is coming up as an efficient way to maintain support for artists in tough times. Since we’re living in the age of ‘content is king’, the Indie music scene has a decent chance to power through such testing times with the support of its fanbase. If quality is great, it is evident that fans are willing to pay top rupees to watch them.
- There are a number of crowdfunding websites that have been garnering economic support for featured musicians in exchange for exclusive rewards like early access to new releases or merchandise.
These smart ways to adapt to the new normal prove that different kinds of human ingenuity and creativity will ensure that all hope is not lost, even in the worst of times.