Covid-19 and The Rise in Streamed Concerts


Live music makes up over 50% of total revenues in the global music industry. With the majority of that revenue being stalled as concerts and festivals have been cancelled, musicians have been finding new ways of entertaining. One of the predominant ways that they have done this is through streaming.

Popularity in streaming live music began to rise in the early stages of lockdown. It began humbly, with artists taking to social media to livestream from their homes: James Blake performed covers of Billie Eilish, Radiohead, and Joni Mitchell on Instagram Live; Sophi Tukker used Twitch to stream 100 DJ sets (which helped to create their quarantine hit ‘House Arrest’); and Charli XCX used Instagram Live to document the making of her music as well as performing songs from her recent album How I’m Feeling Now.

More collaborative livestreamed events also began to occur, such as One World: Together at Home which was organised by Global Citizen in support of the World Health Organisation. This included slightly underwhelming performances of superstars like Lady Gaga and John Legend sat behind a piano, but we’ll have what we can take.

As time progressed, livestreams became more ambitious. A piano or acoustic guitar was no longer enough to wow audiences, and the production of online shows has improved monumentally. Yungblood’s hour-long concert named ‘The Yungblud Show’ was streamed on Youtube, and dispersed comical interludes between energetic performances of songs.

It was at this point that livestreams also began to come with a cost. Laura Marling hosted one of the earliest paid livestreams, for which you had to pay £12. This raised many questions about whether livestreams should cost anything – although Marling’s ticket prices were similar to what a small in-person gig would be, many still argued that the outcome was not the same. A certain level of intimacy can be created between fans and artists during online concerts; however, the atmosphere is certainly not comparable to that of a real concert.

There have been other, slightly more surreal, ventures into the world of online concerts too. Travis Scott partnered with Fornite to create a virtual performance in the online shooter, to which over 12 million players took part in to watch. This provided an exciting new version of the online concert – one that was both visually exciting and interactive.

Now, with platforms like Live Nation and Spotify offering separate concert listings for virtual events, the online concert is becoming a consistent part of the live music industry. While some concert venues are beginning to reopen again, it remains difficult for them to do so safely – it seems that online concerts will continue to be a safer alternative for the time being.

Want to know what upcoming livestreamed concerts are happening soon? View the weekly Edge’s Live Editor’s recommendation for upcoming streams by clicking here.


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Records Editor 21-22

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