COVID-19

Musicians are figuring out what concerts look like during the pandemic

Jasmine Garsd Apr 27, 2020
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The Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles remains closed due to the coronavirus. Frazer Harrison/Getty Images
COVID-19

Musicians are figuring out what concerts look like during the pandemic

Jasmine Garsd Apr 27, 2020
The Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles remains closed due to the coronavirus. Frazer Harrison/Getty Images
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Coldplay’s Chris Martin played for thousands of fans last month … on Instagram.

Due to COVID-19, performances like that might be all audiences get for a while. Cities including Los Angeles have said they may ban concerts and large gatherings until 2021. 

Jeff Dorenfeld, who teaches music business at Berklee College of Music, said the irony is that live performances were predicted to make $12 billion this year, more than record sales.

“This looked like the biggest year ever,” he said. “Every genre of music had major headliners. So they all could sell out arenas and they all could headline festivals.”

Social distancing has changed all that. Now, lots of musicians are playing from home. Stars like Lady Gaga and John Legend raised more than $120 million earlier this month to help fight COVID-19, with a streamed concert.

“The beauty of these live concerts is, you know, you get to see your favorite artists in their pajamas, and get to meet their dog in their living room and the real piano that they play every day,” said Sofia Rei, who teaches vocal performances at NYU Tisch School of the Arts.

While celebrities like Legend have been playing for charity, smaller, gig musicians have turned online for income. But they can’t draw the same size digital crowds.

“While livestream concerts are a fun way to connect with your fans, it’s not a replacement by any means,” said René Kladzyk, a musician in El Paso. “And the ability to make any real income, it’s just, it’s not at all comparable.”

These days, she’s been posting her music to an artist-owned platform called Ampled, where fans can donate to support musicians.

No one knows exactly when musicians will perform in person again. But it’s likely to start small.

“I think the biggest thing that’s going to happen, when this starts to slowly go back to somewhat normal, they’re going to have to program local artists,” Rei said.

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

How many people are flying? Has traveled picked up?

Flying is starting to recover to levels the airline industry hasn’t seen in months. The Transportation Security Administration announced on Oct. 19 that it’s screened more than 1 million passengers on a single day — its highest number since March 17. The TSA also screened more than 6 million passengers last week, its highest weekly volume since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. While travel is improving, the TSA announcement comes amid warnings that the U.S. is in the third wave of the coronavirus. There are now more than 8 million cases in the country, with more than 219,000 deaths.

How are Americans feeling about their finances?

Nearly half of all Americans would have trouble paying for an unexpected $250 bill and a third of Americans have less income than before the pandemic, according to the latest results of our Marketplace-Edison Poll. Also, 6 in 10 Americans think that race has at least some impact on an individual’s long-term financial situation, but Black respondents are much more likely to think that race has a big impact on a person’s long-term financial situation than white or Hispanic/Latinx respondents.

Find the rest of the poll results here, which cover how Americans have been faring financially about six months into the pandemic, race and equity within the workplace and some of the key issues Trump and Biden supporters are concerned about.

What’s going to happen to retailers, especially with the holiday shopping season approaching?

A report out recently from the accounting consultancy BDO USA said 29 big retailers filed for bankruptcy protection through August. And if bankruptcies continue at that pace, the number could rival the bankruptcies of 2010, after the Great Recession. For retailers, the last three months of this year will be even more critical than usual for their survival as they look for some hope around the holidays.

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