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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
HTML EMBED:
COPY

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

What’s the outlook for vaccine supply?

Chief executives of America’s COVID-19 vaccine makers promised in congressional testimony to deliver the doses promised to the U.S. government by summer. The projections of confidence come after months of supply chain challenges and companies falling short of year-end projections for 2020. What changed? In part, drugmakers that normally compete are now actually helping one another. This has helped solve several supply chain issues, but not all of them.

How has the pandemic changed scientific research?

Over the past year, while some scientists turned their attention to COVID-19 and creating vaccines to fight it, most others had to pause their research — and re-imagine how to do it. Social distancing, limited lab capacity — “It’s less fun, I have to say. Like, for me the big part of the science is discussing the science with other people, getting excited about projects,” said Isabella Rauch, an immunologist at Oregon Health & Science University in Portland. Funding is also a big question for many.

What happened to all of the hazard pay essential workers were getting at the beginning of the pandemic?

Almost a year ago, when the pandemic began, essential workers were hailed as heroes. Back then, many companies gave hazard pay, an extra $2 or so per hour, for coming in to work. That quietly went away for most of them last summer. Without federal action, it’s mostly been up to local governments to create programs and mandates. They’ve helped compensate front-line workers, but they haven’t been perfect. “The solutions are small. They’re piecemeal,” said Molly Kinder at the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program. “You’re seeing these innovative pop-ups because we have failed overall to do something systematically.”

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