When lockdown started in March last year, we were restricted in more ways than one. Although staying at home was the safest option and helped save lives, you can’t deny the substantial impact COVID had on the live music sector as well as on our lives, those organisations and staff who support the musicians through setting up stages and electrics; sound systems and pyrotechnics, alongside the actual musicians themselves`. These restrictions caused unforeseeable changes for singers and bands.
Whilst people splurged in non-essential shops, or online, the live music industry was suffering dramatically this year compared to years before. Taken from ukmusic.org, it was estimated that live music brought in around £1.1 billion in 2018 and music tourism added a £4.5 billion to the economy in 2018. Moreover, live music doesn’t just help our economy, but it’s known to have a positive impact on our mental health too. According to globalcitizen.org, those in their study group who had the chance to go to live concerts, had a 25% increase in self-worth, another of the same percentage in closeness to others and a whopping 75% rise in mental stimulation. Everyone attended the same venue to watch the same artist. Although there are different reasons why you all follow the same artist and like the same music, it’s about unity. It’s about screaming the lyrics until your voice hurts, splurging hard-earned money on “merch” and being inches away from your favourite artist. It’s an all senses experience, not just an event.
However, there are arguments that the limits on live music led to some success. This was evident in the rise of streaming in the last year, it made up 80% of the UK’s music consumption, explained by the guardian. It’s also led to an increase in record sales and players. It’s allowed us time to stream, explore music genres and connect to music like never before. The halt of live music resulted in a multitude of people losing their income. When we think of live gigs, it’s easy to assume that it’s just a live artist, a main band and backup singers; ultimately those such as security, sound and lighting and make-up artists were all furloughed since the start of the pandemic. Many had to rely on doing “at-home” gigs online to bring in views that they lost over the pandemic or even release their albums earlier than anticipated to give those something to stream. This was most evident with artists such as The Weekend, Tame Impala and Dua Lipa who all performed NPR’s Tiny Desk at home gigs.
After months of rescheduling, refunds and cancelling, restrictions finally eased in the UK. Outdoor festivals such as Reading and Leeds brought hundreds of thousands from all over the British Isles together, camping and singing shoulder-to-shoulder. It led to tickets being bought for more intimate gigs in smaller bars and venues, which supported local areas and businesses. Travelling up and down the country to new cities and enjoying the nightlife. The excitement of purchasing tickets and dancing until the night ends are things we are only starting to now experience again, every pound saved through furlough and going back into the office resulted in tickets meaning even more to fans as money was limited.
Though COVID-19 changed life as we knew it, it’s still important that gigs are safe for people to attend as it’s going to be something that we have to live with. So, whether that means wearing masks, doing lateral flow tests and isolating; it’s a small ask when it’ll be such an unforgettable experience.
Article by Young Reporter Beth Downes
First published in Grimsby Telegraph 28th September 2021