From small independent venues and record shop owners, to festival organisers and promoters, there isn’t a corner of the music industry that will emerge from the shadow of the coronavirus unscathed.
An almost global shutdown has left close to 20% of the world’s population unable to leave their homes. 2020 has, in effect, been cancelled.
But the music industry is starting to respond to this pandemic in the most 21st century way it can; through the medium of social media.
In partnership with the World Health Organisation (WHO), charity Global Citizen launched ‘Together at Home’ with the help of Coldplay’s frontman, Chris Martin. Martin live streamed a half hour set of Coldplay classics and covers, that has since been viewed 4.5m times on Instagram alone.
Since that initial video was broadcast, a proliferation of artists, from Chris Young to Neil Young, either plan to or have shared intimate afternoons with their fans all over the world.
Unsurprisingly, the trend was an instant hit with the global music diaspora, providing a momentary escape for millions around the world from their present isolation.
It’s been fantastic seeing music’s biggest stars doing what they do best to lift the spirits of those in grim circumstances while emphasising the importance of staying at home. But these small sets seem to have had another, unintended, consequence. They’ve reminded us of the power of live music (not that we needed reminding).
Unlike Martin’s disjointed, but very genuine ad hoc performance, Coldplay’s gigs are carefully choreographed theatre, with each song meticulously planned in tandem with the lights and pyrotechnics.
These all combine to create an atmosphere paramount to, as one critic said, a “big budget IMAX focus-tested to get your heart racing”. The noise meeting each song makes it sound like the centrepiece, time and time again.
Neil Young who, along with Bob Dylan, was one of the earliest pioneers of electric guitar, earnt the nickname ‘Godfather of Grunge’ through his distorted sounds; a far cry from the cosy ‘Fireside Sessions’ he recently posted to his website.
This year is already proving extremely difficult for billions of people around the world, and music has an incredibly important role to play in helping us get through it.
How we listen to music to always evolving. 12-inch vinyl’s made way for the smaller 10-inch, before the cassette was introduced. Then came the CD, until Apple gave the world the iPod, which in-turn led the way for the streaming services that now dominate.
But one thing throughout all this time has remained a constant; live music.
There’s no doubt that when the dust settles from this pandemic, live music will play an extremely important role in helping to normalise things once more.
Global Citizen and the WHO are currently doing important work in communicating the latest developments relating to the coronavirus, and every musician that takes part in the ‘Together at Home’ trend is helping share that message. But it certainly makes you appreciate the real deal a lot more.