Really Missing Live Music during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Nobody can understate all the pain, suffering and death that COVID-19 has inflicted on the world population.  At this point we all know somebody, a loved one, a friend, an acquaintance or maybe even yourself who survived COVID-19 or died from it.  Until a working vaccine / medication is produced, scientist are saying 70 percent of the world's population may become infected by the Coronavirus. Seven out of ten people will contract the virus as of the current worldwide situation. This pandemic is expected to be affecting people, around the world, for at least two more years as things stand today.  Pretty devastating news, considering the virus started in December of 2019.  As of today we are heading into the seventh month of this pandemic,  can you image another year and half of this?  The World's population will get through this, but for sure,  life will never be the same going forward.  Changes to how we travel, socialize, our work place environment, entertainment, and schooling are just a few parts of our life which have been forever changed by COVID-19.

While many people and businesses have been negatively affected by the pan demic, the livelihood and future of performing musicians is really up in the air.  I am not talking mega bands or performers, they have enough money and resources to survive with little to no effect to their lifestyle.  The uncertainty and financial heartaches, many lesser known musicians and performers, are experiencing is taking an enormous toll on these people around the world.  Concerts, Music Venues, and Bars, all places were musicians make a living, have all been closed or shows cancelled, with no certain future when they will reopen.  Unfortunately many of the music venues, which hosted performers and bands weekly, will not financially be able to survive when they are finally allowed to open.  Touring bands / performers will have less music venues to perform at due bankruptcies and closures of your favorite local music hall.

When local governments decide that concerts and performances can take place again, what will they look like?  More than likely everybody will be required to wear a mask and receive a temperature check when entering the facility.  Social distancing will be very difficult to enforce and probably won't happen. The last concert I saw, before the virus lock down in New York, was The Eagles at Madison Square Garden.  At this concert, the band wanted nobody in the audience to video tape their performance on their phone.  You were allowed to take photos, but the minute an usher saw a red video recording light on your phone, they would run over and grab your phone.  These aggressive ushers ruined the whole vibe of the concert.  There will always be people who don't want to be told what to do, especially at a concert were the crowd is there for a good time and partying before and during the event.  Social distancing is not going to happen, it would be impossible to enforce.  Last week a country music performer, Chase Rice, gave an outdoor concert for 4000 fans in Nashville, Tennessee.  The music venue held 10,000, but only 4000 tickets were sold to allow for fans to social distance.  You can see for yourself with the picture below, the whole 4000 crowd pushed to the front of the stage, no masks were being worn by the crowd and for sure as hell no social distancing took place. Rice was widely criticized by other artists for being selfish and putting his fans in danger.  Tennessee is a State that is currently seeing a spike up in Covid cases among it's younger population.  The mindset that it can't happen to me is still very prevalent among many in the US population, especially among younger people.

There have been virtual concerts online, but for sure they do not capture the experience of being at a live concert or music performance.  So the concept of a Drive In concert is being tried.  The concerts take place at outdoor fields were a stage is set up and people drive onto the field with their car or pick-up truck.  The cars are spaced six feet apart.  You are encouraged to stay in your car but most people will stand in the beds of their pickups or sit on the hoods of their cars.  DJ D-Nice was the first performer to play a Drive In concert in the USA at a race track in Maryland.  The performer said playing to an audience largely sitting in their cars had a bit of a learning curve for him, but after about 20 minutes into the performance he saw people moving in their cars, flashing their headlights and honking their horns in place of applauding.  Live Nation, one of the biggest concert promoters, is looking to organize Drive In concerts with the average price being $50.00 to $100.00 per car.  In some cases up to $150 per car for a VIP spot close to the front of the stage.  Four people per car are allowed.  You can bring your own food and drinks.  Booze is allowed with a designated driver.  So instead of going inside your local amphitheater, the concert will take place in the parking lot, not in the arena.  The organizers are thinking to keep the number of cars per show down to 300. Really depends on the Drive in Show, some promoters are looking to draw a 1000 cars per show.   It's not the real concert experience but it the closest thing we have right now.

The concert promoters and bands are not even coming close to the usual revenue that would be generated at a normal concert, but the idea is making some money is better than nothing at all. Losing the summer concert season is something nobody wants.  Unfortunately the news of the virus spread in the USA is not good, States like California, Florida, Arizona and Texas, who thought the virus was under control, are all now spiking upwards.  Until this country gets a cohesive plan to fight the virus nationwide, the return back to a new normal doesn't seem like it is happening anytime soon.  The concerts I had tickets to for this year have all been postponed till 2021.  I hope by then the spread of the virus will be contained, but I am not so sure. 

A design company out of California, Production Club, is developing a Coronavirus Concert Suit called the Micrashell.  The anti-virus suit would have a built in ventilator system, keeping you completely protected from others who have the virus.  The suit is worn like a jacket that would encase you from the waste up allowing you to answer nature's call without removing the garment.  The fabric is tear resistant and can be easily washed after each use.  The designers constructed the suit with neon colors to give a fun vibe.  They did not want the Micrashell to have the feeling of a medical garment, thus the neon colors.  The hood that goes over your head has a built in camera that would allow for an unobstructed views that might be limited by the hood covering, also a sound controller is built in to increase or decrease sounds.  All features of the Micrashell would be controlled on a phone App.  You would also have the ability to mute outside unwanted noise, such as the gabby drunk next to you.  No price or date when the Micrashell will be available to the public, but the hope is to have available by early 2021.  Would you wear one, if life is still uncertain with Covid 19, to a concert or club?

One thing to make sure to do during this pandemic, is to support the artists you like directly. Be that by listening to them on your prefered platform, such as spotify, apple music, etc or buying their merch from them directly. Some platforms have been doing special deals with their artists to give extra support. Bandcamp for example has been giving 100% of the artist's revenue to them directly on specific fridays, so be sure to watch out for that. Spotify has also been doing their part to help out by putting an option on each band page to donate to your favorite artists directly. So if you are feeling generous and want to see you favorite artist with food on their plates, make sure to help out any way you can.

For future blogs I will highlight some of the concerts I have been to around the world pre-Covid19.  Stay safe and try to have a good Summer! 

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