Music live streaming surges amidst the pandemic

With nowhere to perform in real life, more artists than ever are taking to live streaming to get their music out to fans.

Well, we’re nearly in mid-May, and everyone is still hunkered up at home due to the coronavirus outbreak. What many hoped would be a few weeks of inconvenience has turned into a long-term change in daily life, affecting all manners of industries and practices – including music performances.

Practically all live gigs have been shut down or postponed for the foreseeable future. All big musical events that were set to take place this summer have either issued refunds or delayed until 2021, when things have cleared up a bit and we can hopefully all chill out at festivals listening to headliner acts again. My tent is gathering dust and needs to see the light of day.

But where does all this leave the musicians who were intending to play gigs this year? Many have seen a sudden drop or halt in earnings and have had to postpone album releases or push back material until a more commercially viable time presents itself.

All of this new, unexpected down time and lack of live audiences has meant that artists have flocked to Instagram and independent sites such as Bandsintown to perform via live streams – and the data shows a surge that correlates with the start of lockdown.

Bandsintown, a site usually used for ticket purchasing but currently a hub for streaming home gigs, found that over 3,100 new livestream events were added to its platform in the final week of April. That’s an increase of over 21.5% from the previous week, and the steady surge is only set to continue as we roll through May.

Larger artists who would previously have avoided intimate social interaction with fans online have also started to come on board. Bandsintown notes that artists with more than 250,000 followers only made up 3.8% of all streams prior to March 20th. Since then, that number has increased to 5.3%, and as lockdown continues to drag on for longer than many anticipated, we should expect this trend to continue.

Instagram has seen musicians’ stream performances in the last month or so too, with big names such as James Blake, Rex Orange County, and many others regularly dropping in to give fans a song or two. I spoke about this topic recently on our Thred Daily series, which you can watch below, though I do ask you don’t judge me too harshly for my collection of basic indie albums in the background.

It’s safe to say that live streaming your performances will probably be the new normal for quite some time. While governments are starting to throw about the potential plans for easing out of lockdown, many countries have made it clear that recreational activities and large gatherings for entertainment purposes will be the last thing on the priority list. In other words, going to the pub and seeing a gig afterwards will likely be the stuff of fiction for the remainder of this year.

Even the biggest artists in the world can’t fill out stadiums this summer, but their record label executives will want fans to still engage, making livestream performances a handy tool to keep momentum going. It’s not out of the question to suggest that sites like Bandsintown will continue to grow exponentially this year, at least until we can all actually go out again.

My tent and cider crates will have to wait until the summer of 2021.

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