The coronavirus has brought many changes to the world, and, unfortunately, most are not for the better.
When it comes to the music industry, we don’t even need to tell you how many venues and artists are suffering. But to recap…
With live music all about the sweat, the grit, the spit flying, pulling off live shows has become nearly impossible. Artists have been forced to cancel tours and many venues had to shut down on a temporary or permanent basis.
Now there is a silver lining as a vaccine is becoming available to more people. But will the music industry come back the same as it was? Probably not.
Here are a few changes you can expect.
More AI Generated Music
AI generated music is not a new thing. For years, computers have been used to simulate the sound of current recording artists to provide a sound that mimics popular music making it a safer bet for record companies looking to invest.
Now OpenAI, a research laboratory in San Francisco has released Jukebox, an algorithmic system capable of generating songs in the style of popular artists. It was so effective that one song produced in the style of Jay-Z received a takedown notice from the rapper’s company Roc Nation.
Unfortunately, the notice did not work.
AI generated music may not be great for the art, but record companies like it because it is a safe bet. They know it will appeal to fans and they don’t have to spend as much money supporting artists.
Now that record companies are becoming depleted of funding and the new software is available, this just might be the path many will take.
More Artists Gravitate Towards Artist Friendly Streaming Platforms
During the pandemic, many artists have turned to online platforms to reach their fans outside of live shows. Releasing music on streaming services has been an effective way to do this.
Spotify is one of the biggest streaming platforms out there. Unfortunately, you wouldn’t know that based on the payout. For example, artists that get 100,000 streams on Spotify only stand to make $437.
Audiomack, on the other hand, is more artist friendly, with payouts ranging from $.0007 to $.001 with rates that increase the more the artist streams.
Bandcamp is also doing a lot for artists during the pandemic. It has been waiving its revenue on certain days throughout the live music lockdown. In doing so, they have raised $4 million for artists. As a subscription service, they have more freedom over how they delegate their funds as compared to streaming services.
The pandemic has made starving artists even hungrier and platforms like Spotify, that are saturated with artists and don’t provide decent payouts, may fall by the wayside.
Fewer Meet and Greets
Meet and greets are often part of a concert package. Hardcore fans may spring for the VIP tickets which include the experience of meeting with artists before and after the show.
Over the years, meet and greets have become less popular. A lot of artists claim they make them uncomfortable. Furthermore, there have been incidents where overzealous fans have committed violent acts against their idols. For instance, Voice singer Christina Grimmie was shot and killed at a meet and greet.
The pandemic certainly isn’t helping things. And even when the pandemic is over, it’s predicted the artists will want to keep their distance from fans who may be sick, mentally or physically.
In coming years, it’s likely that meet and greets will be replaced by virtual meetings such as a Facetime call from the artist to the fan.
An Increased Need for Physical Product
When the pandemic started, music streaming was down.
As months went on, numbers increased, but something was still lacking.
It may be that during this time, when people have a need to connect to music on a physical and emotional level, they are looking for physical products to fulfil them. People need a product they can touch and feel in order to make a true connection.
It’s unclear as to whether vinyl will become even bigger, whether CD’s will come back or whether an entirely new music format will take over, but experts feel something will be replacing streaming when it comes to bonding fans with artists.
There Will Be More Competition
When stadiums open up, artists will be eager to plan tours. They will be competing with one another to get the tour dates they so desperately need. But it won’t only be musicians that are competing.
Sports events, conferences and other types of public gatherings will also be vying for space at major arenas.
Given the competitive state of the post corona music industry, it will be difficult for bands and music businesses to make back the money they lost during the pandemic. It is hopeful that they will be able to make enough off of releases and virtual platforms to make up for the lost revenue.
Artists and businesses will also have to get creative. They may have to swallow their pride and play at smaller venues. Backyard tours may even become a thing.
And while many musicians are looking forward to getting back to live shows, many will have to continue to rely on virtual platforms for the time being.
Less Opportunities for Smaller Artists
Taking this one step further, if bigger artists are forced to play smaller venues, this may mean the smaller artists will start to get edged out. In this already highly competitive industry, it’s hard enough for musicians to get the gigs that hundreds of artists are vying for.
Now imagine that they will also have to compete with the big boys.
The competition will be even more unfairly balanced considering the fact that many clubs were not able to survive the pandemic. With fewer places to play, bands will be hungry to find opportunities to perform.
Of course, eventually, more clubs will open and more opportunities will arise. But with the music industry taking possibly the hardest hits of any business, it’s more a matter of how soon that will happen.
Fans Will Have Less Disposable Income
The pandemic didn’t only hit the music industry hard, it hit everyone hard. As a result, fans have less money.
If you look at post-Depression trends, during that era, music fell behind cinema and other entertainment options when it came to where people were spending their money. Now, with so many more choices available, like social media, streaming TV and movie and other virtual platforms, music faces even more competition.
Fans that don’t have a lot of money will have to decide how they will spend their next dollar and music may not always be the way to go.
How this will affect the music industry is as yet unknown. It may result in a lowering of the prices of recorded and live music that will make it even harder for businesses and artists to recoup what they’ve lost. The possibilities are scary.
More Drive In Concert Experiences
The pandemic has made the drive-in concert experience a thing. Instead of hanging out with the germy masses, people saw their favorite artists playing live from the comfort of their own car.
Well, guess what? A lot of people decided that they preferred having their personal space during a concert. They enjoyed watching a band without getting jostled around. They liked seeing musicians with a clear view instead of having to worry that some six foot ten fan would step in front of them. They enjoyed having food served to their car instead of having to push through crowds and wait on line for a 12 dollar hamburger.
Now we’re not saying that hamburgers will be any cheaper, but we are saying that they will come with the convenience of having them brought to you.
It is for these reasons that drive in concerts may become a thing of the future. They may not replace more personal experiences entirely, but they may become a preferred option for many people.
The Internet Isn’t Going Anywhere
During the pandemic, many artists have moved towards virtual platforms for connecting with audiences. Livestreams, online shows and even video conference meet and greets have taken the place of in person appearances and concerts.
Even when live concerts come back, it’s expected that many of these artists will maintain the online media they’ve created.
For instance, the show Versuz has gotten quite popular while people were quarantining. Launched by Timbaland and Swizz Beatz, the Instagram based show paired artists with producers to go head-to-head in song battles.
The popularity of the show makes it a mainstay and one that is expected to continue on beyond the pandemic.
For a more general example, artists were going on social media and interacting live with fans. This is another trend that is not likely to go anywhere.
More Streaming Services Available
In order to meet the demands of the many artists who have turned to livestreaming services to connect with fans during the pandemic, music platforms such as Spotify are creating livestreaming platforms.
Even when the pandemic ends, many artists will continue to seek out livestreaming services to connect with fans in different ways. The internet will also provide a way for artists to stay active while they are waiting for tours to be rescheduled or for competition to die down.
With this in mind, expect to see livestreaming platforms popping up everywhere.
Artists Will Have to DIY
With record companies making less money, and not having as much of a budget to support their artists, more musicians will have to do it for themselves. They may have to start picking up the phone or hire teams of lower-level workers to help them book tours, create videos and do publicity.
They will also have to use DIY outlets like social media to promote.
This is all doable considering the fact that they have already made a name for themselves, but the question is, how well will they survive the transition? After all, they will be competing with internet stars and indie artists who already have tons of experience promoting themselves.
Without the right teams behind them they may fall by the wayside.
There Will Be More Consolidation
If artists and music businesses are unable to sustain themselves on reduced budgets, they may have to consolidate. Consider booking companies, record labels and managers partnering up to make one big business that doesn’t require as much office space or staff.
When it comes to artists getting together, the festival trend has already been thriving in providing a way for artists to sell out stadiums. Festivals will continue to dominate the concert scene, but it may be quite some time before they can become organized.
Already into 2021, most promoters have missed their window to get festivals going for the new year. It may be 2022 before we see any major festivals happening.
With so many people out of work and stuck at home more people have been doing all those things they’ve been putting off for so long… like learning how to play those instruments that have been lying around their home ignored. By the time the pandemic ends, there will likely to be an explosion of musicians looking to form bands.
Unfortunately, with limited venues to play, this will add to the competitive factor but it will also make for a bigger focus on music and the arts.
With so many people making music out of their homes, there will be a need for smaller gear. Need a bass amp you can play in the kitchen? A recording system for the bedroom? Yeah, they’ll be something for that.
In fact, there are already companies that are making mini versions of the gear that has previously been available as larger models only. Here are some examples.
- Teenage Engineering: This company produces a pocket operator modular series.
- Native Instruments: Native Instruments recently received a $59 million investment to make smaller music creation devices.
- Korg: Korg is working on making their equipment smaller. The have recently produced a compact keyboard, an analogue loop synth and an MS-20 monophonic synthesizer.
- Lumi: This company is changing the way we learn piano by providing smaller instruments and equipment.
- MOD Devices: MOD Devices is developing open-source black boxes which will replace the need for synthesizers, effects pedals and computers.
This pandemic has thrown us all for a loop, but it is hopeful that the music industry will come out of it stronger. There artists and businesses that have suffered through this will need to give each other a helping hand. This new attitude may replace the competitive spirit and drama that often plagues the music industry.
Fans may also gain a new respect for musicians. Even before the pandemic, less fans were going to shows, whether it be supporting friends who were in local bands or major artists touring the world.
After the pandemic, people who miss music may be coming to clubs more often to celebrate their new lease on life. Of course, how long this appreciation lasts is something no one can truly predict.
As far as the pandemic goes, good news is on the horizon. The vaccine has been released and, as of the time this article is being written, it is available for health care workers and the elderly. However, limited availability is making it difficult for even these groups to get the care they need. Experts are predicting that we will have to wait to the middle of the year until the vaccine is readily available to all workers and age groups.
Another small glimmer of hope is the new round of PPP. The Paycheck Protection Program has been reactivated and this time, $15 billion of the $900 billion the government has made available is being designated to live venues, independent movie theaters and cultural institutions. Businesses are optimistic that this may help the venues who managed to keep their heads above water during the pandemic to continue to do so.
But in the face of so much uncertainty, the industry is reluctant to book major shows and tours. Rather than waste time and money scheduling events that may not happen, they are waiting until they are sure the world is safe for travel and big gatherings. Once they get the green light, they will be booking tours months in advance.
Therefore, it’s likely that we won’t be seeing major tours until late 2021 or even early 2022. Smaller venues that can schedule events with less planning will be more fortunate.
In the meantime, venues can try to move events outdoors, use their spaces for livestreams or turn to other facets of their business to try and stay afloat. For instance, if they sell food, they may try to convert their venue into a takeout restaurant until live music gets back to being a thing.
The pandemic has hit the world hard and the music industry even harder. Some may wonder if it will ever fully recover. This article outlines changes we may be seeing, some for the better and some for the worse. In any case, music is resilient, and we will come out of this stronger than ever.