Part Two: The Future Lives on a Stream?
Using the hashtag #SaveOurStages, entertainment venues marked one year since lockdown last weekend with social media posts about the last concert dates played behind their doors.
Even before the pandemic, musicians were doing some stuff with live streaming at home. For example, Tash Sultana did bedroom recording sessions of her songs from her first EP and Flow State. Another artist, Allen Stone, filmed songs like “Unaware” from his mother’s living room. And, with the introduction of Instagram Live, celebrities from all walks of life began using it as a way to communicate and entertain their fans without the use of press. Honesty (or something close to it) in it’s purest form. They could be unfiltered and up close with an audience. And there was no indication whatsoever it would be one of our saviors while shut in our homes and dealing with the Great Toilet Paper Shortage of 2020.
YouTube, however, became one of the biggest solaces in the wake of canceled concerts. In March 2020, Canadian band Walk Off the Earth released a cover of Dua Lipa’s “Don’t Start Now” with some of their fellow musician friends over a Zoom call. Other bands have also used YouTube to film their recording sessions at home. For example, bands like Pomplamoose (created by Patreon’s founder Jack Conte) and UK band Friends Like These began filming sessions in their own homes during lockdown. Others began incorporating home sessions into their music videos like rock band Evanescence’s “Wasted On You.” Music collaborations also became popular on the platform with live streams from Two Minutes to Midnight, who worked with members of Coheed and Cambria, Mastodon, Primus, Tool, and Mutoid Man to cover Rush’s “Anthem.” Then there was A cover of Foo Fighters’ “Times Like These” by BBC Live Lounge Allstars. Featuring a number of popular artists like Hailee Steinfeld, Chris Martin, Dermot Kennedy, Dua Lipa and Dave Grohl himself, has garnered over 14 million views on YouTube since it’s premiere.
The growth in numbers was also very apparent. According to The Verge, Twitch saw the biggest growth in hours spent on the platform with 45% between March to April 2020 and 101% for the full year. In addition to the gaming community, musicians like Psychostick flocked there as a potential solution to regaining some of the lost revenue from cancelled show dates. Another article in Mashable said microphones, green screens, and other streaming needs like webcams were in low supply during the second half of the pandemic.
However, this does not mean live streaming comes with problems. The 2021 Golden Globes were rife with technological mishaps, For example, connection issues almost prompted Daniel Kaluuya, who won Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture for Judas and the Black Messiah, to forgo an acceptance speech. This, along with the issues Tina Fey and Amy Poehler had hosting in two different locations, did not fare well for ratings because they dipped below 63% in viewers from last year. The Grammy Awards also hit a record low, dipping 53% even though the event was mostly in-person.
Despite the kinks in the system, though, live-streaming still remains popular for live entertainment. On March 21, actor Matthew McConaughey hosted fundraiser “We’re Texas: Giddy Up to Give Back” on YouTube featuring performances and appearances from artists like Miranda Lambert, Los Lonely Boys, Post Malone, and the Jonas Brothers. The event was held to benefit relief efforts from the devastating winter storm that left most of the state and millions of people without power. Since it’s premiere, there has been more than 500k views and counting and response from commenters has been positive, especially from Texas communities severely impacted by storm damages.
In these past twelve months, the music industry has been getting creative about promotion of music. And time, of course, will be the deciding factor once concerts are allowed again. But live streaming concerts, give or take, may still be a popular method of promoting music long after quarantine is done.