I’m an avid music fan and concert-goer. As mentioned in last week’s post I’d like to write a bit about live music events in 2020. For obvious reasons, 2020 has both been a very different and a very difficult year for live events and those that make a living from them: Artists and performers, speakers, conferences, festival, venues, sound engineers, sound and lighting technicians, caterers, stage hands.
These were the only bands I was able to see during on-location live music shows in 2020:
The latter two having taken place around March, 10th, the apprehension about what was to come was already palpable during both events. Zaher Zorgati, Myrath’s singer, quipped that they must be about the last band touring in Europe at the time. He probably was right. Very soon after, lockdown measures were put in place, thus cancelling all remaining live gigs for pretty much the rest of the year.
These were some of the events I had been particularly looking forward to which didn’t take place or were postponed to 2021.
- Ayreon at the Night of the Prog at Loreley. I had attended one of their fantastic Into the Electric Castle live shows in Tilburg in 2019. I’d have loved to see them again in this extraordinary venue.
- Wilson & Wakeman at The Pitcher on Düsseldorf
- New Model Army 40th anniversary show at Melkweg in Amsterdam (postponed to 2021)
- One of the annual winter shows by Mostly Autumn
However, as mentioned before, in times of crises, opportunities abound, too. After initial shock of being faced with not being able to play live anymore and therefore in many cases not being able to make a living or even earn anything at all for a considerable time, many artists explored new ways of producing live music events. Virtual / online / events and live streaming were the obvious choice for still reaching fans while still complying with restrictions and without jeopardising the safety of everyone involved.
I attended many of these live streaming events. In the beginning, some of those were quite exploratory and at times haphazard in nature since for the most part the format, technical challenges, and aspects such as the lack of a live audience for entirely new to most. Over time, though, performers grew more comfortable with both the challenges and the opportunities that come with the medium. Truth be told, in most cases the revenue from these virtual events probably wasn’t enough to compensate for the losses incurred due to cancelled concerts but they generated some revenue at least. Once audiences get more used to the format sustainable business models are likely to emerge.
These are some of the artists, festivals, and venues I’d like to mention in particular because their respective live streaming events stood in out for me:
- Night Flight Orchestra
- Burg Satzvey
- Wacken World Wide. In lieu of the annual Wacken Open Air the festival organisers put on an amazing 4-day online live streaming festival with a stunning mixed reality stage. This is what innovation and entrepreneurship in the face of adversity is about. I’m pretty sure we’ll see and hear a lot more about this technology in the future.
- The New Model Army 40th Anniversary Global Gathering live stream that took place on October, 24th in place of the postponed 40th Anniversary live tour. During this event the band played to a worldwide live audience of 25,000!
- Mike Mills Toehider Electric LiveStream
- Latency by The Radiophonic Workshop (as previously mentioned)
- STATUS QUO? An artistic journey through the Covid-19 Pandemic
- Trans-Siberian Orchestra: Christmas Eve & Other Stories Live Stream
- Progspace Online Festival
- Fish (of Marillion fame) on Friday, a weekly live stream from the artist’s living room, in which he talks about his current work.
I’d like to thank the artists and everyone involved in producing these virtual events for their spirit and for not only making the best out of a difficult situation but also often creating something entirely new in the process.
While I think that these new approaches and new ways of delivering live music artists have been exploring this year are here to stay and complement live music performances I’m also absolutely certain that on-location live music will come back. Live music can captivating, mesmerising, thought-provoking and exhilarating. Live music isn’t expendable indulgence it’s essential.
So, again here’s to a prosperous year 2021 with live music events hopefully returning to the stages of the world!