The music industry and artists alike have been hit hard by the coronavirus. With live gigs out the window, music consumption has almost entirely been digital. Musicians and people in the business have been forced to find new and creative ways to promote their music.
Most of the revenue that boosts the music industry comes from gigs and tours, as well as the ability to sell merchandise at the venues musicians play at. Despite it being old news, the near closure of beloved grassroots venues such as Gorilla and The Deaf Institute is still shocking. A new wave of digital marketing has forced musicians and producers to make a dominant standing on social media platforms in order to promote sales and streams. Since lockdown, venues and artists have resorted to livestreaming gigs so fans can still enjoy their favourites from the comfort of their own home, but it’s just not the same.
The boom in social media presence from a lot of artists has also seen gigs streaming on popular sites such as Instagram TV and YouTube. Streaming platforms have also accommodated to the loss of physical shows by enabling membership to artist channels that allow exclusive access to new releases and virtual gatherings. Bandcamp, a streaming service for bands to have total control over music and pricing, has been a light to the artists in these times. It offers a way to keep revenue while promoting new material without fully losing out. This is a streaming site I personally love, and I hope people begin to turn to such sites to give a little back to artists.
It is clear that everyone is missing the energy and community feel of physical live performances from their favourite artists and the possibility to find new underground bands in the scene. Zak Davies is a rap artist who produces under the name of Saint Nusu. He opened up explaining how he missed all live performance; not just his own, but also seeing other musicians do what they do best, in great venues, and how it all feels heartbreakingly far away. Davies added, “I miss meeting up with other artists and creatives to make something, no second guesses around whether it’s safe, feasible or worth the risk.” Creativity, according to a number of musicians, has come in ebbs and flows.
Tilda Gratton, one-half of atmos bloom and head music editor of The Mancunion, has admitted that “sometimes it’s amazing and other times it’s hard to find motivation”. But she also points out that the pandemic has allowed more time to listen to a lot of different kinds of music and to enhance new ways of writing and producing music.
As head editor, this year should have involved a choice of passes to live performance but she admits that although it’s disappointing, it’s opened up opportunities to livestreams of bigger artist and gigs to review. However, Tilda expresses that with the amount of interview opportunities, there are only so many times you can ask how an artist is finding lockdown. She also expresses how tricky it is to ensure that each interview isn’t boring given the circumstances.
Blake Crompton, member of Rock Music of Canada and self-proclaimed “wailing spirit” explained that despite the dampening effect of having no one to collaborate with, and the fact that no matter how much you write or produce it won’t be heard properly for a long time, the past year has brought amazingly introspective months. He shares how it has striped artists “down to the roots of their inner monologues with a lot of amazing things coming out of it”. Personally, he believes his lifestyle has been enhanced creatively, claiming that when this is all over he is probably going to create “a political concept album, just about the blunders of the last year and a bit and it will be hilarious and satirical and hopefully brilliant.” I for one, cannot wait for this creative masterpiece to materialise!
We have all felt the highs and lows of lockdown and the strains that the coronavirus has implemented on the arts. Going forward as an entire industry, we need to view the situation with a different approach; with the possibility of live gigs unavailable, money needs to be made elsewhere. It is clear the business is doing well by working around this with streaming bringing in more revenue as ever. But the thought of a sweaty venue filled with fans and loud music is definitely keeping everyone going. When the floodgates open for such opportunities, hopefully our beloved music community will benefit greatly.
If anyone is alien to the world Bandcamp opens up, please don’t hesitate to check it out and give some support to your favourite artists.