by Anissa Sanchez
The world has come to a jolting halt since the beginning of the year. Our everyday life was altered when the widespread Coronavirus pandemic took over. As a result, the deadly virus seized any future that live music concerts might have had lined up – making what’s in store for live music seem bleak.
As predicted, this significant change has had an effect on the entire music industry. From Zoom concerts to live-streams, many musicians are turning to virtual streaming platforms to connect with their fans in this digital age. One artist in particular who has been vocal about taking precautions during these uncertain times is Rock and Roll Hall of Fame musician, Stevie Nicks. In her frequent journal entries that Nicks shares across her social media, she reminds her followers just how real this pandemic is. In August, the singer wrote, “This virus can kill you. It can kill me. Kill my chances of pulling on those boots and hitting the road. Kill the chances that any of us in the music community will ever get back to the stage, because we would never put you in danger. Never take you and your life for granted.” The same sentiment that Nicks expressed can relate to how various other artists feel during this time. Out of precaution, musicians have chosen to reschedule their shows, encouraging fans to protect their own health. Despite how much musicians want to get back to performing on stage again, the risk of putting their fans’ health in jeopardy is the most important factor to consider. Nicks closes out her thoughts by meaningfully stating, “Call it Armageddon, Call it a Pandemic, Call it the Apocalypse… This is a real American Horror Story. This is not a mini-series, it is a tragedy.” Powerful and eloquent, the Fleetwood Mac singer’s words speak directly to today’s generation who are living through this unfortunate historical event.
Although the overall live industry has taken a hard hit, the hardest hit has specifically been targeted at the live music venues themselves across the United States. The venues that have been struggling with experiencing a significant loss of revenue are mainly small, independently owned places. The closure of these venues would mean the disintegration of live music presented to multiple cities and towns around the country. Fortunately, as of April 17th, an act has been put in place to ensure the continued existence of the independent venues at stake. The National Independent Venue Association is an organization that promotes the music appreciation community to take action and contact their legislators in an attempt to save these independent music venues. It is obvious that music venues are what piece together live music and provide a cultural impact on local communities. With this act to “Save Our Stages,” there is a glimmer of hope for the entire music community amidst these uncertain times.
It becomes intuitively clear that the future of live music concerts as we know it might see a dramatic change in the future. The mosh pits and standing room only floors will likely be transformed into a more suitably socially distant area, with stricter sanitation regulations and reduced overall attendance. Artist and fan “VIP meet and greets” are also expected to become a thing of the past, as the potential exposure to the virus is too great. Long lines for entry into the music venue or to purchase merchandise will likely be conducted with a new approach as well.
However, in the recent summer months, the United Kingdom proved to the rest of the world that concerts do not have to end altogether. The country became a pioneer with their outdoor concert series at the Virgin Money Unity Arena, earning them the title of being the host of the world’s first socially distant arena show. With fans sitting in designated platform pens, the August performance took drive-in shows to the next level with a more engaging experience. Additionally, fans were able to pre-order food and drinks to avoid queues. This strategically planned concert saw thousands of fans enjoying live music while practicing social distancing and mask-wearing. While this was the first concert of its kind, it nevertheless provided people with a small sense of normalcy by being able to enjoy live music in unison with others.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, there has been multiple things that we have come to realize that we took for granted, with concerts being one of those things. For many, quarantine has since proved to be challenging as the option of attending live music concerts has been taken away. A void now rests within many, as listening to a favorite song or album through headphones doesn’t exactly come near to the ambiance that live music provides. There is an unmatched sensation that is felt as the crowd sways rhythmically together to a song, or when the room of fans sing along with the lead singer – an energy that can be found nowhere else except at live concerts. Whether it be rock and roll, rap, or pop music, concerts have the ability to bring a community of fans together from different backgrounds who all share the same love for an artist. Music is a universal language and has the powerful ability to evoke certain emotions and memories within someone. Without it our world would be considerably dull.
With England setting an example of how live music still has a definite possibility to be delivered to crowds of fans, there is now optimism for resuming those postponed concert dates, giving us something to look forward to in the near future. Without the current ability to go to concerts, it is easy to recognize the profound influence that music has in our lives. No matter the platform, live music continues to find a way to persevere and bring us together in new socially distant methods.