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Music After the Age of COVID-19

Updated: Nov 4, 2020

Unless you have been shedding away in your practice space since March, you are well aware of the impact that COVID has had on the music industry and for us drummers. With all of the chaos that has broken out in the past few months, we hear all too much about “the collapse of the music industry”. Of course there is no question about the negative impact of this all, and after all of this, music culture is going to change undoubtably. The question is how?

I too have believed that this must be the end of all music and we will soon be living in a post apocalyptic world where talk of any live show is a thing of the past. No more Dave Grohl falling off the stage for the 20th time and no more wine glass shattering screams of the “true belieber” fans. With rumors of bands like Green Day, The Who, and Harry Styles potentially going on tour in 2021, there may be a light at the end of the tunnel. But what about the artists here in Denver? The cost and risk of going on tour may have a little more lag time for our local artists.

Live Streaming

In some ways, these top acts who are being led by the worlds best music producers and marketers, are giving us the framework for what the music business is likely to change into. As a product of world tours being canceled, bands are moving to live streaming on their own websites and other live streaming sites. This has given every single band the opportunity to be seen, whether it is by millions or just their friends and family.

Although live streaming has been around for years, it has never been like this. Just over the past year live streaming on sites like Twitch (where many musicians are starting to go live) has gone up 101 percent in the past year and it’s now up to 1.645 billion hours watched per month.

Take MTV for example, When MTV was coming out they showed the world a whole new way to experience music. Only two years after the walkman came out, MTV took music from the headphones to the TV. As technology advanced, so did the musical experience. Today is no different, only COVID-19 is speeding up the process. With every music venue in the United States closing, we saw a flood of stir crazy musicians finding live streaming as their only outlet to play “live”.

Of course, nothing can compare to a real live show, this is always a bookmark in people’s live's for a reason. The first time you hear a crowd of thousands singing the same thing at once, or the first time you feel the massive subs lift you off the ground from their sheer volume (it is not advised that you recreate this in your home). MTV, however, gave everyone a different experience.

The graphics and unique places where MTV would make their music videos gave its own experience. For some, you could say a live show could never compare to it. You will never be able to watch the Red Hot Chili Peppers play underwater unfortunately. MTV has its own experience and music videos are here to stay because of it. Live streaming gives us something that music videos and live shows can’t. When watching a live streamed show you have an ability to chat with the band while they are playing. You are able to tune in to the stream and see your comment be viewed by thousands of other people, something you can’t do at a live show unless you hop on stage and steal the mic.

Music Streaming

Just like trying to pop a bubble on your new screen protecter, music is not going away, it is just moving to something else. In 1978, vinyl music took a huge hit because of the compact disc, and the music stores that surveyed this change were the ones that made it thought the change.

Me, being born in 1996 (and still counting as a 90’s kid), I would be the one who would go down to the local music store and to get the newest album the day it came out. Once I got it, my friends and I would carry out the age old tradition of going down to the basement to do nothing else but listen to it. No phone, no tv on, just us and 66 minutes and 4 seconds of Rush’s Clockwork Angels.

Today we no longer go over to one persons house because, “did you hear Jimmy just got the new Pink Floyd album?” Now we all have access to the newest and hardest to find music. We don’t have to worry about which record store has what music, we all have it on our phone.

Napster changed the music experience forever by making it free for all. “Jimmy” was no longer cool because he wasn’t the one who exclusively had the Pink Floyd album, everyone has it now. By making music free, the genie was out of the bottle and from then on, music platforms like Spotify and apple music, which make up 89% of the music listening experience today, came to be.

We can only expect platforms like Spotify and Apple Music to grow, especially now that more and more people are beginning to produce with all their new time in quarantine. We can count on seeing more and more creative music coming out of bedroom artists who are recording from home. In the age where you no longer have to go into the recording studio to make your new greatest hit, the joy of creating music is more available today. Now anyone, experienced musician or not, can go into their “studio” and do what music is supposed to do; take you away from the day to day and just enjoying playing.

Not only is it easier to make music, but now you can collaborate with anyone across the world. You can now send a drum track to someone in Australia and they can add their own part to it, all in the same day.

If artist Drakeo The Ruler can record a whole album on his phone and have it rise to the top of the charts, we can surely make use of this technology as well. But when it comes to recording drums there is an extra step because of how loud the kit can be, but there are some easily accessible microphones that can plug into your phone for easy recording:

-Shure MV5

-Rode VideoMic Me

-Shure MV88

-Apogee MiC 96k

-Zoom iQ7

Although all of this sounds great, I can hear the people in the back saying, “the real point of music is to play with others in real life, not on some computer and outside of real time”, and so very right you are. What is happening today is just an expansion of music. Although music in person is put on hold today, it will be coming back, and what the quarantine era has showed us, is that when musicians are limited with what they love to do, they will find ways to expand it, and they do this by working with the tool in our pocket.

Conclusion

It may be that because of live-streaming we no longer are saying “did you hear? Jimmy got tickets to the Foo Fighters show”, and instead we will all have access to the new foo fighters show. FOMO will be no more, we will be able to go back to seeing Dave Grohl fall of the stage all together and it doesn’t matter if you have a ticket anymore.

This is not the same as watching an old video of them in the studio that you have seen a thousand times, this time it’s live and in the comfort of that new quarantine blanket you have come to love so much. It is like you are there with them during the show. Live-streaming has solved the problem of “oh no I can’t make the show! I will be out of town” or “No, the show is sold out!”. Now everybody can see the show, now everybody can be there live……. somewhat.

Music is one of few things that have stood the test of time because people are always left with the incomparable feeling they get when they are a part of it. Music has been around as long as we have been around because of the boundaries that it can cross and the impact it can have on every individual. It is not going to leave us, it is going to change with us. Technological advances like live-streaming are going to give us new ways to experience music, and instead of worry about what to do, we can at least try out what others are doing. So head back to the practice shed and when you’re done working on your paradiddles, maybe learn that new music software and how to go live with it.

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