Music has a way of bringing people together; but in this time of imposed social distancing, what are we to do? Also, it is good to know that even though our physical presence at live performances has been taken off the table as a show of support, we are far from helpless to the hazards that the virus and subsequently imposed restrictions have brought to society as a whole. From signed artists to your local music scene, there’s been a large impact made. There has been a hindrance in the sense of the musicianship and the music community as a whole; spanning beyond the behind the scenes music makers, this has had an effect on everyone from executives to audience members, and everyone in between. The pandemic has had an ever-outreaching effect on musicians and fans alike. Having concerts in venues being suspended while the concern over the pandemic has heightened, everyone from the performers to the audience has been affected. So how else has this era had an effect? 

I used to go to at least two concerts a month before Covid… I still have 6 tickets from the past year that I never had the chance to use.

-Alex Weaver: Live Music Enthusiast, Detroit, Michigan

The Financial Impact

   The music industry is worth about $50 billion annually. Now if we break down how the music industry achieves such astronomical revenues, there are basically two main sources from which we prosper: Live Music (Ticket Sales) & Digital Sales (buying the newest releases of your favorite artists). Imagine that you’re a business owner—though many of you may not need to imagine—and one half of your revenue sources have been swiftly swept out from beneath your feet! What are you to do? What would you expect would happen? As you could ascertain, physical sales (which account for 25% of the industry’s revenue) have in fact dropped by one-third.

The Struggling Artist

There are many different ways the artists and industry have seen a result: the camaraderie between bands on the road, the absence of ticket-sale revenue, etc. The nostalgia of the live venue concerts is something that plagues both audiences and performers alike. The fans have suffered from the circumstances as well, but as a devout fan to your favorite band or your local music scene, you may have wondered what way you can show support for the musicians.

coming together during social distancing

What Are We To Do

A lot of the community of any artist’s fan base has transferred into an online forum, remember to follow and interact with your favorite social media page. They always share updates on their progress, new music coming out, their individual or group philanthropic efforts. Even watching or listening to the new content does help the artist achieve popularity online. Also, many people only buy band merchandise when they see it at a show, but remember to find their own availability on the band’s website; this includes the new masks some artists have employed as a merchandising opportunity. There’s also been an implementation of virtual concerts many artists have offered either for a price, or for what I like to think of as “emotional relief” of some sort, a morale boost for their fans. I do understand, however, that this is not a reasonable replacement, at least in the grand scheme of things. We must remember these compromises and alternate tactics are not based in permanence. Bringing the performance to the audience, as opposed to the audience coming to the performance is a temporary accommodation. Although, you must admit, coming from a “top-down” mindset, it’s as rewarding as it is challenging to make such concessions. There’s something to this era that has been forcing the hand of creativity in a positive direction. Coming up with new, fresh ways to simulate that esoteric sensation of being in a crowd of fanatical fellowship, cheering on your favorite musicians seems to be the contemporary frontier.

music brings people together

So Where Does This Leave Us?

In a time of social distancing, we don’t need to remain distant in our community, our passions, our creative influences or our emotional outlets. There may be more idealized simulation methods lying just beyond the horizon. As we patiently wait for these advancements to expand our physical realm in order to shrink the virtual realm; just remember, even though we’ve separated ourselves from one another, does not mean that we’re “separate”. Never forget, even when you’re feeling helpless in the midst of the pandemic, your favorite artists are still there cherishing the support you do provide, and that you are completely free to utilize all these outlets as much as possible for your beloved musicians out there. I’m comfortable in speaking for the entirety of the music industry in saying that they do indeed appreciate your support. 

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