The question I get asked the most lately by our music artists is,
“What are live shows going to look like during and after COVID-19?”
It seems everyone in our industry is asking the same questions.There are so many unknowns, and so much uncertainty.
Live events are at the mercy of local and state governments, and in the US, each state or province is setting their own restrictions.
The worst part is, it seems on every rollout plan, live music and large gatherings are set to be the last phase of life getting back to normal.
- So when will live concerts be allowed to happen again?
- Will everyone have to wear masks and stand 6 feet apart?
- Will music clubs be forced to consider a sellout at 20% capacity?
- Are drive-in concerts now going to be the new craze?
- Will music venues still be around when the live event’s ban ends?
As a musician, and as the owner of Afton Shows, that’s the question that troubles me the most.
A new coalition of independent venues and promoters, NIVA, surveyed their members and found that approximately 55% of them don’t have enough cash to last more than 3 months.
With a reported 90% of their members saying without federal help, they may not last 6 months.
Now that’s scary.
We all hope there will be stages left to perform on when the COVID-19 live events ban is lifted, but what do we do in the meantime? If you’re like me, you’re probably going stir crazy.
As a musician myself, I feel the same innate desire to perform onstage that every music artist feels.
As such, musicians are not only dealing with the typical feelings of loss and anxiety that everyone else is feeling during COVID-19, music creators are also feeling an emptiness and loss because they cannot do what they love most – perform onstage at a live show.
Nobody has a crystal ball, but from my conversations with others in the music industry (event organizers, promoters, music venues, artists, booking agents, etc) there are a few things that seem likely to happen, depending on which state or province you live in once the live events ban is lifted and live concerts can resume:
THE BAD NEWS.
- Lack of dates availability: Music Venues are in “tour routing hell” right now. As soon as shows can resume, venue talent buyers will have to fit months-worth of canceled shows into their calendar. This could severely hurt unsigned independent musicians and smaller touring acts because priority will probably be given to major artists with large draws. Every artist in the world will want to tour, many venues may have gone out of business, and it could be months before some artists can even get an open slot at a venue.
- Extreme Safety Protocols: It’s very possible that masks will be required at live shows for a while. Venues could be forced to cut capacity (i.e. a 500 capacity venue may have to sellout at 100 tickets sold) so they can put X’s on the floor and space out the crowd for social distancing. I expect additional costs to venues for added security to monitor social distancing and venues being required to provide hand washing stations at entry or hand sanitizer.
- Longer Delay on Major Tours: It may be lower risk for independent acts to play shows, or for low-mid level touring acts to go on tour. However, for major tours, it’s expected they won’t plan their tours right away because major artist tours and stadium tours (if even allowed yet) are so costly to plan and produce, they can’t take the risk that a 2nd or 3rd wave of COVID-19 cancels their tour all over again.
- Potential for 2nd or 3rd waves of COVID-19. Without a vaccine, it’s possible that once stay at home orders are lifted, another wave of COVID-19 hits. In which case, things could shut down again for another quarantine. I hope this doesn’t happen, but it’s something to be aware of as a possibility.
THE GOOD NEWS.
- Change in Fan Behavior: Before COVID-19, most music fans would not be excited to sit at home and watch a LiveStream performance by their favorite band on their TV. But COVID-19 has changed that. Consumers are starving for a live show experience, and now that they are starting to get used to LiveStream performances – I see that habit sticking around long-term. Even after live shows resume, your fans are going to be used to making LiveStream performances something they purchase in addition to attending live shows at music clubs.
- A Chance for Better Marketing: Right now, your potential fans are on social media more than ever. Nobody has much to do at home, so they scroll through their feeds. This is a huge opportunity for artists to focus on their online paid ads strategy. You can learn how to run ads and start reaching new fans. If you’re doing LiveStream performances now is a prime time to promote those LiveStreams through paid social media ads.
- We Can Band Together: You can connect with your local music venues and other artists and see how you can help them. Maybe you can do a LiveStream performance where a portion of tips and ticket sales goes to your favorite venue or a music organization. We’re launching our Afton LiveStream platform soon to help music artists financially survive during this live events ban. Use this time to network and help others in our industry. Developing those relationships during this downtime and finding ways to help them will make them lifelong connections that can pay off big.
- Shows WILL Come Back: Humans need music and community. Live events will happen again eventually. And when it does, music fans are going to be so starved for the live show experience they will come out en masse. If you focus on keeping connected with fans, marketing yourself online, performing for an Afton LiveStream, and continuing to create great songs – you could find yourself able to draw more fans out to your live shows than ever before.
So what does “Live Music” look like after COVID-19 is all over? I believe it will be better, stronger, more appreciated, and that we will come together as a music community to keep live music alive. We may have to tweak things a bit at first, there may be some annoying rules to follow, but the world needs what you do. They need your music, they need that live show experience, they need you to keep doing what you were born to do – create great music.
Ryan Kintz started Afton in 2004. Built for musicians, by musicians; the MyAfton booking and MyAfton LiveStream platforms focus on empowering independent rappers, bands, and musicians while providing risk-free booking opportunities. The Afton Tickets LiveStream platform will focus on major artists, promoters, and event organizers. Ryan Kintz is a musician, event organizer, promoter, and die-hard music fan. Afton has booked over 15,000 shows in 70+ cities in the U.S. and Canada.