Once the COVID-19 pandemic became more serious in the UK, it was inevitable that we’d see the cancellation of gigs. As sad as it’s been, the industry has been getting inventive, and we’ve had the rise of live-streamed shows online in their place, including the ‘Streaming From Isolation’ series from London venue The Boiler Room.
Rising neo-soul star Greentea Peng made an appearance as part of the series on April 2nd, streaming live from her home, with donated funds going to Global FoodBanking Network. Also featuring on The Boiler Room’s website are a DJ set from Four Tet and performances from Joe Armon-Jones and Fatima, as well as Sons of Kemet leader Shabaka Hutchings.
Everyone from Sam Fender to Erykah Badu are at it, and using the opportunity to raise money for charity too. Folk-punk troubadour Frank Turner livestreamed a gig to fundraise for independent Southampton venue The Joiners, and raised over £10,000 while doing so.
One of the biggest issues with events being cancelled is the financial impact on smaller venues. Therefore, fundraising efforts like these are invaluable to ensuring the survival of local music ecosystems. Around one-fifth of small music venues have closed over the past 15 years, which is a worrying state of affairs when it comes to rising artists breaking out and getting a following.
Of course, these livestreamed gigs aren’t only good for financial reasons, but to keep a community going between fans of an artist. People will have been looking forward to seeing their favourite artists live, and this is an attempt to recreate the atmosphere of the real event as much as possible. DIY went one step further, curating their DIYsolation Festival and raising over £3,000 for UK charity Help Musicians over the Easter weekend. Artists included Marika Hackman, Lynks Afrikka and a DJ set from Metronomy’s Anna Prior, with three days of interaction between artists and fans.
Likewise, remote listening parties have also been springing up and seeing fans join together. The Charlatans’ frontman Tim Burgess has been hosting a number on Twitter, featuring albums from the likes of Supergrass, The Coral and IDLES. Will all of these new events replace the conventional gig? Of course not, but it’s a good way for artist and fan to keep in touch through these testing times. It’s the musical equivalent of those Zoom meetings your boss organised so everyone can ‘keep in touch’ while working from home.
Written by Adam England.