Arts

Artists grapple with new reality as tours turn digital

Wallows is one of the many bands turning to virtual touring amid COVID-19. 

Wallows is one of the many bands turning to virtual touring amid COVID-19. 

Image By: Wallows Music

As musicians grapple with the past few months that proved to be a pause on their regular scheduled programming, the silence has given them a chance to redefine what it means to interact, or in this case, perform live. Gathering in a sweaty music venue and watching someone perform live is a hard thing to imagine right now. With numbers across the country still going up as thousands of students return to college campuses, a slight return to normalcy serves as a dream. Local music venues are struggling to hold on as their main sources of income are at a halt. Patrons are encouraged to donate and support them in whatever way they can. 

For musicians, ways of keeping a steady revenue and also remaining relevant proves to be a bit harder. Without shows to headline and countries to travel, the pandemic has raised questions around the future of live music and what it will look like in the months to come. With Broadway making some of the industry’s hardest decisions first, artists have followed, starting to sell tickets for summer 2021, hoping to get fans excited about the future. It’s also been a unique time for the art of a livestream. 

Musicians have turned to Instagram Live or even the software Twitch to still have a chance to share their music and strengthen the relationship that live music cultivates. Just this past week, artists like Waxahatchee and the War on Drugs came together to promote voting with a virtual concert for HeadCount’s “Vote Ready.” By tying some sort of encouragement of social activism, the outreach proves to be bigger and hopefully carry more of a meaning in testing times. 

Even apps like TikTok are doing live streams with a series of new artists to reiterate the importance of live music for early-on industry exposure. Many are feeling the pressure to be relevant in many different ways, as the internet continues to grow at the same rate as the virus, it seems. 

One of the pillars of the music industry is live shows. Without the chance to tour and reach people all around the world, some artists can feel as though the landscapes of their career have changed drastically. Artists are trying to keep up with the ways of the world and stay connected to those that fuel and contribute to their success. 

Wallows, whose frontman is Dylan Minnette, have just released a schedule of live-streamed shows, where tickets go for just $15. Those with a ticket will also be able to have access to the full show until the first week of October. 

While nothing can really replace hearing your favorite song by your favorite band live with hundreds of other people, these times are forcing creatives to be innovative. With the risk of COVID-19 being as serious as it is, we must reimagine our favorite pastimes. Things might be frustrating but there really is no blueprint for how things should look. Artists can engage with people in ways that they never have before. 

As people have more freetime now than they ever did before, people can take advantage of the fact that the soundtrack to someone’s Monday night might just be a live-streamed show from someone else's living room. Along with his album release, set to drop on Sept. 4, British artist Declan McKenna is taking advantage of the new ways of performing live. McKenna is currently selling tickets for his first-ever album’s debut show, where he’ll play the album in its entirety. While it’s not as ideal as McKenna might want it to be, it still allows people to not go through the motions that might prove to be dangerous of going to a release show. 

It’s easier for some to watch something from their bedroom, rather than get on a train, find something to wear, the list goes on and on. Costs are cut dramatically, soon enough, people might prefer to watch a show from their bed.

It’s a testing time for everyone, all types of careers are shifting entirely. Working from home looks like a reality for people until at least early 2021. We need to think of new ways to interact with one another and Netflix can only go such a long way. Missing a live show is a feeling that won’t go away but can definitely be helped. 

Take time to look into what your favorite artists are doing and how they’re choosing to be creative during a time where things are far from normal. We might just find that live streams of shows aren’t necessarily a bad thing, but a new thing. 

It might be a long time until things are back to normal but this is a chance to redefine what the norms across the music industry are. There’s no longer a clear structure required to be a success. There’s an artist and audience for everyone. Right now, people are eager for things to catch their eye. Music is a great way to grab it. 

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