The quarantine has presented challenges to artists in every way. Gigs are gone, touring is postponed until 2021 (which is an estimate), and along with concerts goes all other avenues of income for musicians. And this is entirely fair, concerts do involve hundreds or thousands of people in tight spaces; not great in a pandemic. But how can musicians perform for people when they can’t leave their homes?
Taking to the Internet
Live streaming has become the new standard for shows thanks to Zoom, YouTube Live, and even Facebook and Instagram. With established artists like Ben Gibbard (Death Cab for Cutie) and Mike Shinoda (Linkin Park) doing consistent livestreams on YouTube, and indie artists like Dan Mangan using his company Side Door to sell tickets to private zoom meetings, live streaming may be the best we can hope for in the current situation. Going live in their homes has given artists their voices back.
So what are the advantages? Are people enjoying the shows? For the most part yes! While it may not be as interesting to tune into a livestream, it does allow for clear audio, a comfortable environment, and free access (or lower ticket prices) for anyone with internet access. Many people do report being less interested in staying for the entire stream, but it should be noted that this is not the case for the paid private concerts. Dan Mangan reports that 90% of the viewers will stay for over half of the event if they pay for it, while YouTube reports a 1 minute average view for livestreams on its platform.
Other platforms such as Twitch.tv by Amazon are mostly used for video game live streams, but Twitch also features a platform for musicians and producers to stream their own shows. Twitch is a more popular option for those who value interaction between the audience and the artist. This preference comes from the low lag time on the chat next to the stream. This allows newer artists to interact with their viewer such as Marc Rebillet, an electronic artist who rose to fame via his underwear clad solo jam sessions on Twitch.
Live streaming may be the future due to its incredibly low cost compared to touring. Thinking about it in terms of a new artist, a livestream costs at most a few computer upgrades to ensure quality while touring costs time, sweat, and tears. Even after this pandemic ends, many artists will still choose to livestream often and tour more rarely. Why put in all that effort into performing for a few people when the potential for unlimited viewers is right there?