Life has dramatically changed for many people around the world over the last few weeks and months. The spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus) has made gathering in groups impossible, which has had an impact on businesses, restaurants, artists and musicians. In the face of mass gig cancellations however, bands, musicians and recording artists are getting inventive by streaming directly to fans around the world.

Musicians playing. A woman playing the piano has her back to the camera. To her left a woman is playing the guitar and in front of her is a man playing the drums
Musicians around the world are broadcasting to audiences online © HEX

Bridging the gap 

Most musicians today have embraced social media, using each unique platform to grow their audiences all over the world. In times like this, it means it’s easier than ever for them to share a little piece of their own universe from wherever they are. Over the past few weeks, artists have been using their Facebook pages to share songs, all with the goal of lifting people’s spirits who may be feeling anxious, and to provide some much needed entertainment for those who have been staying at home as a precautionary measure. Irish band The Mary Wallopers went as far as building a pub and livestreaming a concert to their fans in order to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, while singer-songwriter Jack O’Rourke shared his take on Van Morrison’s Into The Mystic.

From independent artists to household names, everyone has been getting in on it. The legendary Neil Young announced on his Neil Young Archives website that he would begin streaming fireside sessions directly from his home, filmed by his wife Daryl Hannah, while Bruce Springsteen made his 2009 London Calling: Live in Hyde Park concert available to fans through YouTube and social media ahead of schedule and for the first time ever. 

Australian musician Jethro Pickett recently posted a video of himself sitting on his deck with the water behind him, performing a song from his most recent album France. “Isolated and picking away this afternoon in Tasmania. Art is important in these times, it’s to do with humanity and community,” he said.

Coming together in creative ways

Musicians living together have taken the opportunity to team up with friends and roommates in order to pass the time and to challenge themselves creatively, as was the case in London recently when Christof van der Ven jammed with The Staves’ Camilla Staveley-Taylor, Frida Mariama Touray and Glyn Daniels, working out a cover of Bahamas’ Lost in the Light.

Not all acts have been able to collaborate together in the same room, however. For Portuguese band Linda Martini, playing together meant getting creative, as each person was in a different location. They managed to assemble a video that they shared on Instagram of each band member playing over a track in their own home, with the resulting clip having a unique and organic vibe to it. "We set it up in a video app and we just published it and it was a really cool thing and became a bit viral," Hélio Morais from the band told Lonely Planet.

Making festivals digital 

Many events, including festivals, have been cancelled as a result of the coronavirus. Organisations around the world have responded by turning to the internet to host gatherings, and have approached it in the same way as they would a regular festival, by building a line-up with sets at designated times. They are then streamed out to audiences.

A group of organisers in Spain recently announced the Stay at Home Festival, while Lisbon’s Port to Port Festival will now be taking place online over two days from 21 March onwards. “The online festival will consist of two main parts. First, a livestream that will feature a mix of artists streaming from their homes. And second, a ‘virtual festival’ which walks people through how the festival could have been — this is a way for us to showcase the up-and-coming artists who would have played and support what they are doing, an aspect of the festival that is very important, “organisers Garden Community told Lonely Planet. 

In Ireland, Unemployable Promotions hosted an evening a music called Live at Home, with each act posting the link to the stream of the next one, creating a sense of community and fun.  

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The novel coronavirus (Covid-19) is now a global pandemic. Find out what this means for travelers.

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