Can live streaming performances ever fill the void for musicians?

The coronavirus pandemic has caused huge disruption in all walks of life, although for musicians and their fans, the resulting lockdowns and lack of movement brought some unexpected innovations to the music scene. As the world became forced to accept the ‘new normal’ surrounding both work and entertainment, the music scene has managed to adapt and overcome the obvious difficulties related to offering live performances.

How a pandemic helped awareness of live streaming

Before anyone had even heard of Covid or an array of alternative entertainment mediums, which people would inevitably turn to en masse once the precautionary lockdowns began, video streaming content had already started to gather momentum. In fact, live streaming had already started gaining a firm foothold several years ago, largely thanks to improved communications technology and network capacities. Better quality and higher definition streaming also began to enjoy great demand.

Youtubers were already adept at sharing a wide variety of content, as were Twitchers, who shared their video gaming experiences and accomplishments. Many of us were already familiar with using Skype to make video calls, which has always been handy when separated by distance from our family and friends. Meanwhile, the popularity of Zoom and other videoconferencing applications boomed, quite literally overnight in some cases.

Likewise, many of the best and most established online casinos had already been offering live streaming options for a few years, such as these with a special emphasis on roulette gaming. Interestingly, this was due to a growing demand for what might be called a more authentic casino experience. Online casinos typically offer more variety and choice compared to their physical counterparts, yet many people crave the social and inter-personal elements of playing roulette or poker, which purely graphical representations of the same games just can’t equal.

Flashy 3D graphics and cool effects are one thing, yet nothing quite matches the atmosphere of playing alongside or against real people. Live streaming roulette and table games brought the opportunity to play alongside real people like ourselves, with games managed and presented by authentic licensed croupiers and dealers on the other side of the screen. Live roulette, poker and blackjack became an instant success, providing the next best thing to actually playing at a physical casino venue, not to mention a unique online casino experience.

No physical concert venue, no problem

Like many areas of entertainment where mass gatherings were part of the norm, such as big sporting events, the music industry was also faced with an instant dilemma when the lockdowns began. Although nothing can top the sensations experienced at a live music event, whether packed into a small club or enjoying the expanse of a stadium or open air venue, musicians themselves led the way in trying to offer great alternatives.

Pandemic or not, there would be no to stopping many of the most famous musicians, with some even managing to stage lavishly produced online shows, as an alternative to their previously planned stage performances. Detailed listings at Billboard even highlight livestreams and virtual concerts that have taken place online, along with upcoming live online events by major artists from every genre you can think of. These range from the classic voice of Andrea Bocelli, to the trip hop sounds of the original virtual British band, Gorrillaz.

For some of the most famous and chart-topping artists, the cancellation of tours and shows brought an opportunity to do something a little more intimate, which undoubtedly thrilled their fans. With the support of the World Health Organization and Global Citizen, renowned artists like Chris Martin of Coldplay performed live sets from their own homes. The overall aim here was to fill the musical entertainment void, especially while fans missed out on popular summer shows and festivals.

American indie rocker LP, had more than 200 live dates planned for 2020. Instead, she ended up offering a virtual world tour. While this was a new and novel experience, despite admitting that it was a little unnerving at first, she now plans to host more live online streaming events. That said, LP also believes that streaming shows will never fill the void of live music performances, in person.

The new medium for an increasingly digital future

While there’s absolutely no doubting that once this pandemic eventually ends, fans will flock back to every kind of music venue they can find, live streaming entertainment is definitely here to stay. For sure, nothing will ever match the experience of attending a live music performance, with all our senses treated to something that’s impossible to imitate via any other medium.

Nevertheless, live streaming also opens up entirely new avenues to be explored. Only a small fraction of music fans ever actually gets to see their favourite artists performing live, at concert venues. Maybe they can’t afford the cost of tickets or travel, especially if bands or artists aren’t likely to perform locally. Maybe they have physical or health concerns that prevent attendance at live shows. There might be numerous reasons, although with live streaming concerts, fans now have the next best thing to seeing musicians playing in the flesh.

Live streaming performances might never fill the current void, either for musicians or their fans right now, but in the future, they will be a fine addition alongside in-person live events and social gatherings.