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The show must go on: is live-streaming a viable alternative for musicians?

Concerts are being cancelled and postponed globally, some are even taking place without audiences, and artists are calling out for support. Now musicians are turning to live-streams so that fans can enjoy music without the risk of infection.

If our immediate future lies in online streaming, what does this mean for musicians?

Artists turning to live-streams

With large-scale events being cancelled across the globe, artists are repositioning themselves to offer live-streams in place of concerts. But is this a sustainable solution?

The outbreak of coronavirus has resulted in cancellation or postponement of SXSW, Coachella, Groovin’ the Moo, Bluesfest, and Splendour in the Grass, along with a growing inventory of smaller concerts. Artists are losing vital opportunities to build fans through live performance.

On Tuesday night, the Melbourne Symphony orchestra played Scheherazade to an empty auditorium, after government restrictions required suspension of their concerts until mid-April. The orchestra is determined to keep the spirit alive and have preserved the soaring hour and twenty minutes of Rimsky-Korsakov’s genius on YouTube.

Nashville-based band Them Vibes are using the platform Stageit to talk to fans, perform original songs and stage Q&As. The tickets have no set prices, meaning users can contribute between $1 to $1,000,000. Stageit positions itself as “a front-row seat to a backstage experience” and was celebrated by Billboard back in 2012.

Elsewhere, indie artist Ron Gallo is taking to Instagram with a concert series tagged #staythefuckhome. “I kind of want to find a way to do the first online world tour, or even the first world virtual-reality tour,” Gallo says. “Possibilities are endless, and I think artists just have to get super creative with it right now.” 

View this post on Instagram

hi world. what should i be doing right now? been asking that question a whole lot lately. well one is #StayTheFuckHome and two: in light of our show at @meltedmusicfest tomorrow being cancelled we are going to do a live broadcast show for the whole world from my house on instagram live so you can watch from the comfort of your own home where you are most safe. we will do one show for U.S. people at 9:40pm CST saturday 14 March 2020 and another for Italy (and all Europe) at 21:00 CET on sunday 15 March 2020. put together a siq band for the fest and have new songs and want to share it how and when ppl need comfort and jams most. please venmo @rongallo or paypal [email protected] to help cover flights and band. love (and distance) for all during these times 🧡 c u soon

A post shared by Ron Gallo (@rongallo) on

Whilst online concerts will be great for the morale of artists and fans alike, live audiences are an undeniably vital component in the dialogue between musician and fan.

Sadly, live streaming won’t necessarily compensate for the financial and emotional losses musicians are suffering at the moment. Artists are currently straddling moral obligations to cancel public appearances, whilst still having to pay the bills and keep their fan base engaged. If you’re interested, I Lost My Gig is currently keeping an up-to-date tally on the virus’s effect on the Australian music and events industry.

In light of that, if you love music, it’s important to support musicians in any way you can during this time. From streaming to buying merch, we’ve made a list of ways you can support artists from home. Head over here to check it out.

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March 18, 2020