Festivals canceled. Tours postponed. Ticket holders refunded or awaiting rescheduled dates. This is the reality of live entertainment in the time of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Musicians now unable to hold in-person performances as a result of the pandemic are turning to at-home live-streams and publishing unreleased content.
“Live events are quickly shaping up to be the most lucrative space for musicians in the digital-music era,” wrote Amy X. Wang for Rolling Stone. “As listeners become inundated with cheap access to music provided by streaming services, dedicated music fans crave more intimate experiences with their favorite artists.”
Costa Mesa surf-rock band Spendtime Palace was set to play South by Southwest (SXSW) before authorities canceled the event. Now, the four-piece who lost money after hiring a drummer and paying for travel to the festival are connecting with fans through live-streaming.
Spendtime Palace took part in a festival-like live-stream last weekend where bands on Park the Van Records were given a slot to perform and streamed on the label’s official website.
Park the Van Records produced t-shirts memorializing the live stream with the phrase “I Was Kind of There …?” on the back above the names of bands who participated.
Bands are also reaching fans — and trying to make ends meet financially — by publishing unreleased content.
“The last weeks have not only been scary, [but] they’ve brought various cancellations/postponements, and we’d be lying if we said that It hasn’t hit us hard financially,” the band said on Instagram. “If you feel like supporting us in these wild times, and can, this is the best way to do it!”
Despite bands asking for support by streaming their music, there was a decline in music streaming last week.
“In the United States, the total number of streams of the top 200 songs on Spotify last week dropped 14 percent from the week before, according to publicly available data from the service; around the world, the decline was 11 percent,” Ben Sisario wrote for The New York Times.
With these declining streaming rates, bands continue to push for people to stream their music and buy merchandise.
“Artists generally have a few various sources of income, the main ones typically being touring (first and foremost), album sales, licensing/syncs, and merchandise,” wrote Fred Pessaro for Vice. “All come with their pitfalls, but album sales and merchandise will be crucial for artists as touring is taken off the table.”
One of the organizations helping in this time void of live entertainment is the GRAMMY Museum, who is providing free music education programs, digital public programs — featuring interviews with artists like Billie Eilish and Courtney Barnett — and slideshows of their exhibits.
The non-profit museum based in L.A. Live was working to publish their content online to be more accessible for those unable to physically visit the museum, but expedited the process when they had to close their doors indefinitely as a result of the pandemic.
“This is a community service that the GRAMMY Museum is providing people while they are quarantined,” GRAMMY Museum President Michael Sticka said in an interview.
Read the full interview with the GRAMMY Museum President Michael Sticks below.