Covid-19 has changed almost every aspect of our lives, from the way we socialise to the way we work. However, one thing the pandemic has not transformed – and instead only increased – is our desire to experience music, allowing us to disconnect from what has become a new, mundane reality.
To say the least, artists have suffered numerous limitations as to how they can distribute, promote, perform and make music. The way in which artists have adapted is all but linear and is constantly being revised and adapted. From engaging more actively with fans on social media to performing e-concerts, Covid 19 has truly tested the resilience of not only the up-and-comers but also the big names. Although this years’ Grammy’s have given the nominees a platform in which they can create trends and reactions from the fans, this hasn’t been a given and remains a massive challenge for aspiring artists.
Hailing from Connecticut, hip-hop producer Kenny Beats has fully used the lockdown restrictions to his advantage. His series – The Cave – did not stop and Kenny has been active with weekly streams where he created eclectic beats much to the delight of his audience. An example of this is a shared live stream with Charlie Puth creating beats and generating hundreds of thousands of views. Moreover, Kenny also put together competitions where fans could submit their beats and receive live feedback from the producer (with guest appearances from the likes of Timbaland, Denzel Curry or even Thundercat). Producers are often underappreciated for their role within the creation of new material. However, Kenny Beats did not disappoint and offered quality entertainment to the delight of millions of fans around the world. This is just one example of the numerous ways artists have been able to connect further with a content-hungry fan base.
Another example of an artist adapting more than adequately to the post-lockdown world is the one and only Dua Lipa. With an astonishing $1.5 million budget for what can be described as an extravagant and highly aesthetic online show, Dua Lipa attracted a record breaking 5 million viewers. Bringing with her a stellar guest list that included the likes of Kylie Minogue and Elton John, Dua Lipa has well and truly set the bar extremely high for the rest of the ‘A-list’ celebrity roster. Beyond the amount of viewers it attracted, Lipa has secured a 70% increase in ticket sales for her upcoming tour – Future Nostalgia. Her manager has equally stated that the star would go on to organise more online shows – regardless of the eventual in-person shows coming back.
This model represents a potential solution for any artist wishing to tap into different markets simultaneously. Dua Lipa’s management company sold individual tickets but equally created partnerships with the likes of Tencent (a Chinese multinational technology company and offer social media, video games and streaming services). This enabled Lipa to generate an additional 2 million viewers from China whilst performing in the United States. As the world has slowed down drastically throughout the pandemic, Dua Lipa’s show allowed her a major (to say the least) platform which enabled her fans to get a taste of what could be the beginning of a new way of performing live.
It could easily be argued that the primary victims of the pandemic are the up-and-comers. The pandemic will eventually result in an over-saturation of bands, albums and live concerts once lockdown restrictions are lifted. The problem these artists face is logically linked to the lack of revenue from streaming platforms, lack of budget to create and share new music, and the obvious inability to perform live music. However, some artists managed to adapt their music to our current situation.
Artist Arlo Parks was expecting to take off on her first headlining tour of Europe around when the pandemic took off in the UK. Instead of becoming defeated by the feeling of disappointment due to the year she had lost, Parks picked up her pen and composed her debut album. Hit songs including ‘Black Dog’ and ‘Eugene’ took off and the former eventually became BBC Radio 1’s Tune of the week. Moreover, she performed in live lounges and equally went to perform on a tripped back Pyramid Stage in Glastonbury. Arlo Parks is an example of an aspiring artist taking matters in her own hands and truly taking off. Her music is refreshing, warm and reflects her personal experience of the pandemic.
Throughout what has become a painfully long worldwide pandemic, fans were gifted with relatable music which allowed for much needed short-term ways of escaping reality. The hit ‘Stuck With u’ by Ariana Grande and Justin Bieber is just one example of the aforementioned statement. However, although just a song, these tracks will become life-long anthems for what we will all remember as a truly harsh obstacle in all of our lives. Despite all the difficulties presented by the pandemic, artists have been able to find ways for us to appreciate music for what it is.