Lockdown- how has it affected the music industry?
Joe Goodlad- Guest Writer
Originally a summer reserved for the usual range of enticing and lively music festivals across the UK, this year artists and bands have been forced to find new ways to connect with their fans, as all live music performance has been postponed due to the current global pandemic. Although tours have been cut short and concerts rescheduled, music creators and performers have found new ways to provide the soundtrack to what has been a difficult time for everyone. For more casual musicians and players, it has given them time to learn a new technique or even a brand-new instrument. What’s more, ‘socially distanced’ videos have seen musicians unite globally from their own homes to create some fantastic music videos such as Captain Tom Moore’s cover of Gerry and the Pacemakers’ ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’. Having recently received a letter from the Queen, he became the oldest person ever to top the UK Charts as he collaborated with the singer Michael Ball and other music groups of all shapes and sizes to create a truly special video.
For a lot of UK artists, lockdown has been a good break from the continuous cycle of being on stage or in the studio. It has been a time to pause and reflect about their journey as an artist and also a time to write new material. There have been a lot of songs released about the lockdown itself and how it has affected certain artists and groups. For instance, Anderson .Paak released an emotional Hip-Hop track called ‘Lockdown’ which focuses on the events which led on from the tragic death of George Floyd and the later Black Lives Matter protests which followed. This tune is well worth a listen for its smooth vibe and flowing, impactful lyrics. A personal favourite which was released towards the beginning of lockdown was the Twenty One Pilots’ single, ‘Level of Concern’. Despite having a more light- hearted focus than “Lockdown”, this pop tune focuses on the impact that the pandemic has had on the music industry and wider society. The song is quite a shift from your normal Twenty One Pilots record as it uses a more mainstream style of pop production but is definitely worth a listen!
Despite the fact there has been a recent rise in innovative releases, artists globally will be hoping for a swift return to regular gigs. Since streaming services such as Spotify have exploded in popularity for the casual musician over the last five years, the royalties received from these streams have more or less completely dried up for the creators. Bands and other acts have been forced into relying on ticket sales from concerts and selling merchandise for the majority of their income. Therefore, the pandemic has meant a huge loss of earnings for almost everyone involved in the industry from live sound engineers to promoters and with the uncertainty of the future it is growing almost impossible to plan and promote future gigs and album releases even going into 2021.
Although the music industry has been hit hard by the pandemic, looking forward it is not likely that the structure of the industry is going to change by a significant amount but a lot of the interactions within the industry will be carried out remotely. Artists are relating to their fans more from their own homes through private online meet and greets especially as the pandemic has increased the audience which are available. In the immediate future there will be more emphasis placed on livestreaming gigs particularly with the uncertainty of travel, fans can still get a live gig experience even if they cannot make it to the live venue where it is being performed.
It is so important that the music industry is supported properly going forward especially as it provides fulfilling employment to so many, especially to those who are self-employed. There are several ways you can support artists and music industry workers such as buying merchandise directly from artists’ official shops. Also, the majority of artists are livestreaming on platforms such as YouTube, Twitch and Instagram where you can directly support them by making a live donation while simultaneously listening to some fantastic music. There are also more general wider national emergency funds which are supporting workers and artists on an individual case by case basis, such as the Covid-19 Crisis Fund that AIM (The Association of Independent Music) have set up to specifically support freelance musicians who have suffered a loss of income due to the pandemic. What makes music so great is its variety so it’s essential that every genre is supported equally to keep music diverse.
If you are interested in hearing Joe's own music, you can find his latest lockdown inspired song 'Pandemonium' here or under his name on Spotify.
Sir Tom Moore Cover- ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’
Anderson .Paak- ‘Lockdown’
Twenty One Pilots’, ‘Level of Concern’