The Times They Are a-Changin’: Performers Vs. Pandemic

The music industry has been hit by COVID-19 in a unique way. While many are currently grafting from home or perhaps striving in key positions, those tasked with keeping the wonderful world of music going are experiencing different battles altogether. For some, ensuring the money continues to flow is the most pressing matter; The Musician’s Union (UK) reckons that over half of all musicians have no regular employment and that a whopping 94% of them are freelancers. That’s bad news in the middle of a pandemic, where just heading to the shops is a massive risk. Busking, getting studio work and performing live are all out of the question.

It’s perhaps a little easier for established artists and acts. They of course have the problem of keeping audiences engaged when their fans are now spending almost all their time at home, but in a creative twist it’s forced plenty to innovate. Post-metalcore titans Code Orange did a live stream to promote their newest album Underneath last month and The Killers did their own live performance via Instagram yesterday.

Rock band Audrey perform live from a back garden.

The trend for bands to stay home with their fans, together but apart, has worked magnificently. Every avenue has been investigated, from Paul Oakenfold bringing the Madchester back to the future to Robyn hosting a DJ set from her virtual venue, Club Domo. And stoners, don’t fret; Willie Nelson and Cypress Hill are both set to host performances through Luck Productions and LiveXLive respectively. Plus, Weedmaps are also championing “Higher Together: Sessions From Home”, boasting Wiz Khalifa, Ari Lennox and Billy Ray Cyrus. Of course, these three events all take place tomorrow on 4/20. Smoke em’ if you got em’.

Live streams aren’t the only methods being used. On April 25th, 100 gecs will partner up with the likes of Charli XCX, Kero Kero Bonito and Tommy Cash for a one-off festival experience, all live from a unique Minecraft seed. All proceeds go to Feeding America; another example of a growing trend to donate profits to charity from these new and exciting ways to connect.

‘Coalchella’, a Minecraft music festival which saw 450 people cram in for organiser Max Schramp’s birthday.

The charitable side of this ongoing desire to keep popular music alive and well has fed into the UK’s NHS, which is heaving at the seams thanks to dozens of new patients each day and lack of proper equipment. Artists ranging from Liam Gallagher to Manic Street Preachers to Fatboy Slim have called for and announced their own concerts, with profits going straight to the service and workers permitted free entry.

All of this has led to One World: Together At Home, the Live Aid of the COVID-19 pandemic. The star-studded lineup includes Paul McCartney, Lady Gaga, Stevie Wonder, Elton John and even David Beckham. The eight-hour stream saw thousands glued to their screens and millions donated to charitable causes; keep an eye out on LDN later for an in-depth overview of what went down.

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