It’s been clear for months that the effects of COVID-19 have no bounds. Whether you’re working from your kitchen table or belong to the millions of people that filed for unemployment in the U.S. in the past several months, you’ve felt it—the world turning at a different pace. If you’re like me, your inbox is filled with cancellations ranging from Memorial Day cookouts to doctor’s appointments, but nothing cuts quite as deep as your graveyard of emails from Ticketmaster and Live Nation offering refunds for the shows you were holding out for all spring. Whether you’re a concert junkie or not, the way we’re getting our music is changing. With live shows out the window, musicians are finding new ways to interact with their fans, streaming is more important than ever, and the adjustments made to suit a contactless-world are likely to carry into the music industry’s post-pandemic ways.
A few ways that the COVID-19 pandemic is seriously changing the music industry:
There’s a new focus on streaming. Since the introduction of streaming services like Spotify and Apple music, streaming revenues now make up more than half of the recorded music industry. And with everyone at home, streaming has increased on almost all platforms.
The ways we’re streaming are changing. We’re not just listening to music more frequently, we’re actually listening in new ways. While stuck at home, we’re putting down our headphones more often and listening through more home devices like Apple TV and Amazon's Alexa—streaming platforms that we seem to have neglected back when we had more to do.
Artists are delaying releases and cancelling tours. Live ticket sales make up the majority of the music industry’s income stream, alongside recorded music, and it’s down to nearly zero. With social distancing guidelines in place that limit large gatherings, fans who bought concert tickets to their favorite bands before March are left all dressed up with nowhere to go. And in a time where nothing is for sure, most artists are reluctant to officially reschedule any concert dates. In addition, many summer album releases fans were looking forward to are being postponed due to the slashing of advertising budgets and fewer PR opportunities.
In A Post-Pandemic World…
It’ll take time to rebuild consumer confidence. For most of us, it’s going to take some time to reacquaint ourselves with concertgoing as a casual, comfortable act. One survey says that even with an effective vaccine available to everyone, less than half of consumers in the U.S. will attend sporting events and concerts once they reopen. This means a second buffer period of losses for the music industry while the public comes around to the idea of buying tickets. And with a six-month shutdown costing the music industry roughly $10 billion in sponsorships alone, each day without a live show counts.
There will be new ways to support crews and artists. After the pandemic passes and crews and musicians are back on stage, we’ll have countless new ways to support our favorite artists. New donation avenues that saw success during COVID-19 outbreaks when artists and crews lost the majority of their income will likely expand to make sure small artists and venue crews have the funds they need to revamp the industry and keep it running.
While right now the music industry seems unfamiliar to artists and fans alike, it’s worth about $11.1 billion, so slowly but surely, it will recover. In time we’ll be back to enjoying live music and our favorite artists will be back to releasing their work like old times. We likely won’t be attending stadium concerts or seeing our favorite bands at intimate gigs anytime soon, but as restrictions lift we should expect to hear small acoustic artists at outdoor restaurants and gatherings. And until then, you can still get your music fix from the safety of your home by keeping up with your favorite artists on social media. Musicians are live streaming concerts and posting all types of unique content to connect with their audiences in new ways—so take advantage of it!
And don’t forget to support your favorite artists by donating to the many new relief funds helping thousands of artists and crews in need. If you’re not sure where to get started, visit Spotify’s COVID-19 Music Relief Project website where you can find a list of 20+ organizations taking donations with Spotify matching every donation dollar-for-dollar up to $10 million: https://covid19musicrelief.byspotify.com/en-us.