In related COVID-19 news, Esquire took a pretty deep dive into the dark abyss in an article it released on the effects COVID-19 has had on the status quo of the music industry – albeit an insightful one. Although it focuses nearly exclusively on the music industry that only mid-tiered artists and above get to see, it does provide some great insight for unsigned and independent artists. Indeed, the pandemic has totally levelled the playing field in that the likes of Celine Dion and Christina Aguilera are performing from their homes just like unsigned acts have been doing for years. But this means that unsigned acts have to step up their game even more and in even more ways in order to get noticed.
The article quotes artist manager Niko Seizov as saying “As their income disappears, a lot of the smaller artists will have to start looking for day jobs, which will stop them from putting enough time into creative pursuits. This will harm the music industry because creative progress and revolution always starts from the bottom.”
The article makes an interesting point in that, as we all know, artists don’t make money selling music. They make money performing live, among other areas. Streaming has drastically cut the income an artist makes but it increasing the ability for you to be found which grows your audience. But now that the idea of a live performance in the local music venue is looking to become a thing of the past, this formula doesn’t work anymore.
It goes on to point out that the pandemic doesn’t just affect artists. The live industry includes sound engineers, lighting technicians, set designers, tour managers, roadies and more. When “live” doesn’t happen then these people don’t get paid – plain and simple. Venues are having problems staying open during lockdown but even after lock down restrictions are released, it is clear that venues will not be able to fill to capacity leaving everyone to wonder how venues will be able to afford staying open even if they were to start opening up. Moreover, lawsuits from families upset because a loved one caught coronavirus and died because they came to an event at a venue are a scary prospect. But venues have been closed for so long now that when things do start to open up, as the article points out, the “shadow industry” consisting of the people who make these shows run will be all but dried up because people have had to leave the industry.
Key takeaway for us in this article is that the industry is going to change drastically and we’ve got to change with it. As much of an inconvenience as it has been, it may actually end up being a change for the better for all of us.
"If you were to rebuild the music industry from scratch, you wouldn’t monetise it the way it is currently”