The future of live music is unprecedented in the age of COVID-19.
(Jan Střecha / Unsplash)
I’ll never take those nights for granted again. Stumbling out of the High Dive after a glorious, high-energy set, and immediately going around back for a parking lot slice of Five Star pizza. (If you know, you know.) Sadly, what was once an unsuspecting Friday night outing, is now an invitation for the coronavirus.
It’s a rough time for the live music industry. The shoebox venues with sticky floors where you used to dance next to sweaty strangers no longer seem like safe spaces. This leads us to wonder where will we get our concert fix when all the venues are closed?
Well, from the early stages of the pandemic some of the biggest names in the business are keeping the music alive through avenues only the internet could provide. Weird times call for weird solutions — thus the birth of livestream concerts.
From James Corden hosting HomeFest (which featured Billie Eilish and BTS), to my personal favorite event, Streaming Outta Fenway with populist king, Bruce Springsteen, it was a hopeful time, despite the quarantining.
There was undoubtedly an element of excitement, knowing that we were experiencing a new frontier of performance from the comfort of our couches. However, with case numbers on the rise here in the states and minimal progress, it’s becoming increasingly clear that live concerts aren't a viable, permanent answer for the music industry as a whole.
Instagram livestream concerts and drive-in concerts are dope, but all possible remedies involve massively cutting down on capacity. There’s still no real alternative to the intimacy of live music.
Karrie Keyes, a monitor engineer for the grunge icons of Pearl Jam and co-founder of SoundGirls, had a conversation with Rolling Stone about the unfortunate future for those who have dedicated their lives to this business.
“There are not going to be huge stadium shows any time soon…I don’t think anybody knows realistically how it’s going to change. Most people who work live events have accepted the fact that they’re not going to work this year.”
For the performers at these live events, that means losing about 75% of their income. Then, there's the team of people behind the performers who the show wouldn't go on without.
Gouge Away, a punk group whose fan base thrives on the visceral atmosphere created during gigs, made this clear when they said, “Let's not forget about everyone else who makes our lives easier on the road who are also struggling right now. To all the merch people, drivers, tour managers, sound and light people, photographers, all the road crew, and those who want to open up their venues every day, we appreciate you and miss you.”
So, how do we protect the futures of indie venues and small artists until the day that it’s safe to return? The National Independent Venue Association is trying to do just that.
Through #SaveOurStages, NIVA is asking Congress for federal and financial support. According to the non-profit, “90 percent of venues report that if the shutdown lasts six months and there’s no federal assistance, they will lever reopen again.” Over 600 major artists, ranging anywhere from Lady Gaga to Robert Plant, have signed this letter that could save countless businesses.
Given that ‘entertainment is America’s largest economic export’, supporting this notion and finally properly funding the arts only makes sense.
If you want to ensure that the music industry will still be there for you to consume and enjoy after the pandemic, be sure to support your local bands and venues in whatever way you can. And as always: Wear. A. Mask. To headbanging with the homies sometime in the future.
Madeline Murphy is an Online Writer at Rowdy Magazine. She’s currently studying journalism with a minor in Women’s Studies. Madeline can be found making Apple Music playlists, trying Nigella Lawson recipes and binging SATC. She’s fiercely passionate about social justice and the power of words.