The novel coronavirus has changed music in seismic ways over the past year. Career touring musicians who’ve spent decades on the road suddenly found themselves out of work and stuck at home last spring, and countless developing artists woke up to the reality of live shows becoming inaccessible at the same time as well. From the way we promote music during this strange time to how we pull off collaborating with other musicians has changed due to lockdowns. However, some things about music haven’t been transformed because of the pandemic. Here are four of them:
Listener demand for live music performances
The demand for live music hasn’t died during the past year, so don’t worry about that. When things return to normal and indoor venues are allowed to host concerts safely again, we can expect enthusiasm for in-person music experiences to hit levels never seen before in our lifetimes, potentially even for unknown developing musicians who take the stage. But in the meantime, a great deal of the current live show demand has shifted towards the next best thing, which is live-streamed music performances. Artists who aren’t currently making the effort to live-stream performances for their fans are missing out on a huge opportunity to connect with and show up for their audience in a meaningful way.
The power of online streaming platforms
Influential playlists and music discovery algorithms haven’t become less powerful during the pandemic. These important listening tools have been made possible by streaming platforms, which haven’t lost any clout over the past year, and in fact, online music listening has surged at certain points this year. The obvious takeaway is that homebound music fans have taken to the most accessible and affordable method for listening to music during this time, which has been playlists and the music discovery features large streaming platforms offer.
The intimate ways listeners connect with recorded music
It’s safe to say that your day-to-day life looks a lot different right now than it used to, and the same goes for your listeners. However, the intimate ways your fans connect with music are probably the same. For example, the hour-long subway commute when a listener typically checks out new music or streams an old favorite album might not exist right now, but her overall listening habits remain intact if she transfers that same music ritual to a morning walk. In this way, music is a constant comfort for audiences that doesn’t change even when everything else around them does. In fact, the familiarity of the specific music audiences turn to right now could have a far greater impact compared to more normal times because we’re all bound to remember this difficult year for the rest of our lives. If it’s your music someone listens to to feel better or more understood right now, there’s a chance that listeners will remember and appreciate your work for the rest of their lives.
Music’s crucial role of relating to and comforting audiences during difficult times
The pandemic has upended, ruined, and changed countless things about music, but it doesn’t have the ability to diminish music’s power to comfort listeners during difficult times. On the contrary, more people have turned to music to help see them through this time than ever before. Whether it’s a locked down city block being uplifted by an impromptu music performance or the comfort of listening to a familiar song, music is playing a vital part in helping people of all ages and walks of life cope with their trying circumstances right now. For developing artists, this means that what you do is important whether you have a large, devout following or are just getting started in music. If you’re creating music at home, there’s a chance that what you do will be heard and appreciated in someone’s life during a fragile and uncertain period. Forget music promotion, forget money, and forget the drive to be successful for a moment, and focus on just how important and special this sort of connectivity really is. There’s a universe of things we can’t change about the pandemic-stricken world right now, but something many of us can do is interpret the way we feel through music and share it with people. Your songs might be exactly what someone needs to hear right now.
Patrick McGuire is a writer, musician, and human man. He lives nowhere in particular, creates music under the name Straight White Teeth, and has a great affinity for dogs and putting his hands in his pockets.