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How lockdown has changed the way Gen Z listen to music

Being tucked up inside all day has given new opportunities for artists to create music and get their careers off the ground, while quarantine playlists are booming.

Coronavirus has had an enormous impact on nearly every country across the globe. Theatres are shut, restaurants are closing down, even entire airlines are having to go into administration and ask for government help. One industry that’s managing to keep itself alive and well, however, is music streaming.

It makes sense given the bizarre circumstances we’ve all found ourselves in. We’re all at home, either binge watching Netflix shows or listening to Spotify playlists on repeat, and all of this new music consumption has changed our habits considerably. Some artists are hopping onto the potential this brings with it, including Tyga and Curtis Roach, while DJs and gig organisers are setting up live stream events to keep the party rolling.

So, here’s all the ways in which Coronavirus is changing the way Gen Z are checking out new music and listening to their favourite artists. And, just for the record, the new single ‘Bored in the House’ slaps.

Artists such as Curtis Roach are finding mainstream success through TikTok

I’m sure you’ve probably seen the TikToks by now – celebrities and smaller users alike are creating quick skits using Curtis Roach’s homemade music snippet called ‘Bored in the House’. Here’s a compilation of all the best ones to get you filled in if you’re unaware.

Curtis was already a fairly popular underground rapper before this snippet exploded in popularity, but he’s clearly seen the potential in ‘Bored in the House’ and has just dropped a new track with Tyga on Spotify. It’s basically the same minimal instrumental with some trap inflections over the top – but my God is it catchy.

The fact that TikTok and pure quarantine boredom has given Curtis a feature with Tyga of all people should be further evidence that the video sharing app has the potential to make or break chart topping tunes. We’ve seen it happen with Roddy Ricch’s ‘The Box’, Lil Nas X’s ‘Old Town Road’, and even Justin Bieber’s ‘Yummy’ to some extent.

Making hit music can happen from anywhere, even if its starts with a video of you tapping the floor and creating a quick hook. You can follow Curtis on Instagram here, and obviously it’s worth looking him up on TikTok too.

Quarantine playlists are on the rise

Nothing encapsulates the mood of a certain era or situation quite like a meme playlist, and this quarantine period is no exception.

Song lists designed with social distancing in mind have been making the rounds on social media the past few weeks. The COVID-19 Quarantine Party Spotify playlist is my personal favourite, and has amassed nearly half a million followers. It includes classics such as ‘Toxic’ by Britney Spears, ‘Can’t Feel My Face’ by The Weeknd, and of course ‘Hands to Myself’ by Selena Gomez.

Thousands of these types of playlists have popped up online throughout the last few weeks. It’s a nice way of channelling some creativity during these times of boredom and injects some humour into a rather scary situation. Some are designed with practicality in mind, too, with this one only including songs that have choruses over 20 seconds long – the amount of time you need to spend washing your hands.

Playlists are a great, fun way to get a little escapism and excitement in a time where it’s impossible to actually meet up with friends and vibe together. Sharibility is everything right now.

Singles are getting more airplay than ever before

While there have been a few banging album releases recently (I recommend The Weeknd’s After Hours that dropped last week), it seems there’s an increasing emphasis on enjoyable low-key singles during this period of forced isolation, as club anthems and dance tracks take a back seat. You can’t exactly get hyped up and club ready when you’ve nowhere to go.

Chill, lo-fi hip hop is creeping into the mainstream top ten at the moment. Jazzy hip-hop group Surfaces have enjoyed huge success in the last few months, while the single ‘death bed’ has been hovering at the top for a while, despite it’s seemingly niche aesthetic and style.

We should probably expect more of this moving forward, given that hype energy tracks aren’t the focus right now. Purpose driven singles and understated vibes are all the range for 2020, as we all hunker down in our apocalypse bunkers.

DJs and artists are bringing the gigs to our homes via livestreams

With that being said, there are plenty of opportunities online to still see your favourite artists and DJs bring a party vibe to your front room. Some of the biggest names are dropping regular live acoustic sessions, including James Blunt, Rex Orange County, and Charlie XCX. Others are actually finding viral success with their live sessions and garnering audiences far larger than they normally would.

Take DJ Nice, for example, who managed to bring in over 100,000 people to his Instagram live sessions last week, and is currently in talks with a mountain of top celebrities over potential future streams. Many of these videos are taking place in artists’ kitchens and living rooms, giving a more personal show than they otherwise would.

Since DJ Nice began streaming his sets on Instagram he’s gained an additional 1.5 million followers, which is no small feat by anybody’s standards. It’s an indication that, if marketed well, even international emergencies can be opportunities to reach out to huge amounts of people.

Alternative releases and ambient remixes are growing in popularity

Remixes have been gaining traction in the last few years, even before everything fell into chaos. They’re a great way to increase a track’s commercial longevity and can keep your audiences on the hype train, but they can also be altered with ambient noises to create new, immersive experiences.

Given that everything’s…well, a bit of a car crash at the moment, some artists have released calming or gentler versions of their main material. One of the most notable examples of this is Tame Impala, who just dropped an alternative version of their most recent album The Slow Rush on YouTube. Titled ‘In An Imaginary Place’, it adds echoed, reverbed effects to sound like the listener is somewhere outside. Check it out below.

Adding these sounds and aesthetics to well-known material is nothing new. Alongside remixes, they’ve been growing in popularity for quite some time, drawing in millions of hits on YouTube. These alterative, ambient songs are a hit with Gen Z in particular, sharing a similar niche audiences to lo-fi hip hop beat playlists. They’re incredibly soothing, and can help alleviate some of the stress Covid-19 is bringing on all of us.

Coronavirus is hitting all of us hard. It’s an odd time, and although things seem to be a bit daunting as of right now, music, playlists, live streams, and ambient remixes are all helping us to stay connected, stay optimistic, and keep being creative. The bangers will prevail, and it seems that audiences are more receptive than ever.