The popular saying says great evils, great remedies. Of course, this is something that we have been able to see throughout the duration of lockdown as a result of the health crisis caused by the coronavirus.
In the end, it was the culture, always so reviled, that came to rescue us all a bit, making our lockdown more bearable. Some publishers made several of their catalog titles available for free download, various institutions offered operatic and theatrical content, as was the case of the Royal Theater and the Theater Documentation Center of the Ministry of Culture and Sports of Spain, on whose platform Teatroteca they offered one thousand five hundred full theatrical performances. Museums such as the Prado, the Thyssen or the Reina Sofía also facilitated the approach to their catalogs and exhibitions. Video games, movies and comics… the resources for entertainment were vast, which didn’t just generate a few debates on the incompatibility between value and gratuity in culture.
Many groups and artists also shared entire concerts through YouTube, while others opted for unreleased discards. But one of the main attractions has been online concerts. There have been many artists who have done concerts through digital tools such as Instagram, Tumblr and YouTube, some on their own initiative and others encouraged by brands. However, the most striking phenomenon was that of festivals, to which a good number of talents volunteered to participate. They were organized quickly, they were well coordinated and were a success.
The most important festivals in 2020
Sofar Sound Listening Room, Live from Our Living Room, Indieheads Festival, Sofa Festival, United We Stream, Unite Through Music, Defected Virtual Festival and so many others. It is not our intention to elaborate an exhaustive list of musical initiatives, but to show that they were not few and that they really generated interest. Two also took place in Spain:
The first was the Yo Me Quedo En Casa Festival. Via Instagram and promoted by Franchejo Blázquez, there were more than 40 artists who participated throughout the weekend from Friday 13 to Sunday 15 March, as soon as the state of alarm was decreed by the Government. The maneuver had follow-ups on successive weekends, covering the month of March and taking it up as a farewell on May 8, 9 and 10.
The second of the proposals was the Quarantine Fest. Broadcast via Tumblr and YouTube, March 16-27, 51 emerging artists in total who entertained every afternoon for 12 days.
Faced with the good reception they enjoyed and showing the possibilities offered by the internet, we wonder if this type of project could prosper and give rise to a live music industry 2.0. An approach focused on creating the best musical experiences for consumption through the Internet with an appropriate platform and fair pay for artists .
Towards a new business model
Not long ago the WiZink Center in Madrid announced its reopening after the appropriate adaptations demanding the new normal, in order to host shows again, guaranteeing the safety of the public. But the key point was in the technological renovation in which they have worked. From now on, and to compensate for the reduced capacity, the concerts will have a simultaneous transmission via streaming. But the consumption by the viewer will not be passive when following the event through the general realization, but will be able to choose as desired the camera that provides the desired vision. And they even plan to play with all the possibilities offered by the stage and the staging of the artists to make the experience not detract at all.
It is clear that the face-to-face experience of a concert is unique and irreplaceable, and therein lies its essence, its magic. But in this way, whoever decides to enjoy a concert from the comfort of their living room or cannot attend for whatever reason, will not be deprived of attending a show and tasting it, but it is live, yes live. In the same way that it happens with sporting events. If it works with these, why not with music?
Perhaps the experience is not worse, just different, since much of its value will lie in the final audiovisual product, on the other hand different for each viewer, when choosing the perspective from which to follow it. Each performance could reach a much wider audience, a professional technical team would intervene in its realization, so that the proposal would contribute to the generation of jobs; and it would be a viable way for groups, like Coldplay, that refuse to do major world tours in order to reduce their environmental impact.
On June 14, the South Korean band BTS offered a live streaming concert called BANG BANG CON The Live. An online show with payment and worldwide reach with tickets that ranged from $26 to $35, depending on whether or not the virtual viewers were members of its official fan club. The event brought together 756,000 followers from 107 countries, generating, according to the magazine Forbes, almost 20 million dollars. An event that opens the doors to this new business model.
The obligatory presence in a specific physical space when it comes to enjoying live concerts and festivals is the last crack of a fully digitized music industry. Perhaps the great revolution announced by the live sector is not that of holograms, but something much simpler and more current, such as using the means we have at our disposal to, once democratized access to music through platforms streaming, do the same with live presentations. A step that seems more natural every day.
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