The music industry all but came to a halt when COVID-19 reared its ugly head. Shows got postponed or canceled, recording studios stopped running, and festivals shut down. Artists have found themselves in a position no one was prepared for. One of the challenges facing artists in this uncertain time is being able to stay engaged, and connected, with their fans from a distance.
The music industry is an ever-evolving entity with an audience who have a short attention span. It is important for musicians to keep content flowing and stay on the minds of their fans. What do you do when you’re used to touring and playing to your audience? Performers are starting to think outside of the box and find new ways to stay connected to their fans.
These are a few ideas that some artists have been doing:
· Instagram Live solo videos Performers are taking to their Instagram accounts and performing stripped down versions of their songs for their fans. Artists from all levels in the industry have been going down this route. Mandy Moore and her husband, Taylor Goldsmith, perform on her Instagram account every Sunday night. Billy Gilman and Kate Voegele also occasionally jump on their accounts and surprising their fans. Smaller acts such as Delta Rae, Stormstress and Liz Bills take to social media to perform for anyone who joins in.
· Virtual reality concerts YouTube has a live feature that is being utilized by performers as well. Halestorm took the virtual concert to a whole new level. Their concert was a 3D experience; allowing fans to virtually control the camera angles and see the view they want.
· Live videos with other artists Amanda McCarthy has been going live each week with other artists. First an hour long set via Zoom on Facebook, followed by an hour long set on Instagram. Each week she invites a different artist to join her and they take turns playing covers and original songs. During these sets, both artists talk about their Venmo and PayPal links for anyone who wishes to donate to them. Some fans are even hosting watch parties to go attend concerts with friends again.
· Fan created set lists Eric Hölljes, from Delta Rae, has been using the band’s Instagram account to play covers and originals at least once a week. During these videos he reads the comments and picks some suggestions for what to play. He never comes with his own set list. He also takes two song suggestions to go and learn, then comes back a few days later to play those songs. Daphne Willis, Kate Voegele, Carrie Welling, and Amanda McCarthy will also take requests from their fans during live feeds so their audience gets to hear what they want.
· Themed music nights Some musicians are taking their live streams one step further and giving each one a different theme. Sarah Peacock has done that in her “Green Couch Sessions”. She did a whole John Prine theme not long after he passed away. Melissa Etheridge has been performing live from her music room in her home in California every day. One of the early shows was a movie day, where she played her songs from movies.
· Going on tour in their homes National tours are a no-go right now, but who says there can’t be a tour? Artists, such as Raye Zaragoza, are getting creative and touring in their home. She plays a short show from a different part of her apartment each time. Shows have taken place in the kitchen, bedroom, and even the bathroom.
· Virtual festivals While large gathering restrictions are making it so festivals cannot happen, that isn’t stopping groups of performers from creating virtual festivals. International touring band No/Hugs has created a festival called Blue Fest. They have gathered 18 other artists including, Stormstress, Amanda McCarthy, Rebecca Zimmerman, and Evol Walks, among others. They all took turns going live from the No/Hugs Facebook page during the event. What a great way to show camaraderie, share music, and for fans to find mew music.
· Sharing other passions with fans Many people think of musicians as just musicians. Now is a time that they can share other passions with their fans. Liz Bills has been using her Instagram and YouTube to share her passion and tips for vocal health, pain management, and vegan cuisine. Carrie Welling, who is also a yoga instructor, is taking to the Yoga Soul Nashville’s Instagram once a week and leading a yoga class. At the end of the class, she reads a poem or plays a song as the participants are laying in their Savasana pose.
· Interviewing other artists There is a difference between typical interviews and when artists get to interview each other. Melody Kiser has been doing a series called “Artist Quarantine” where she interviews different musicians each day. Some of the interviews so far include Sarah Peacock, Stormstress, Christie Lenée, and Crystal Bowersox. They talk about anything from music to what they’re doing to stay sane during this time. Stormstress has taken the interview in another direction. Those girls interviewed Carissa Johnson, but they weren’t on screen. They had yarn doll versions of themselves conducting the interview instead. It was insightful and hilarious.
· Releasing snips of songs to come The girls in Stormstress, Sarah Peacock, Liz Bills and Carrie Welling have all been releasing preview videos and sound clips of songs that are yet to be released. Some of them are on Facebook and others have been through the Patreon platform. While fans can’t go and see their favorite artists perform to hear new music, they can still experience it virtually. Teaser clips are keeping fans engaged since they can’t to a show right now.
· Releasing videos from live performances The lack of live music has left a whole in the lives of fans and artists alike. Many performers have recordings of their shows that have been in storage and never released. Now is a great time to put some out into the world. Fans can reminisce and dream of the day they can be in a venue watching their favorite musicians on a stage again. Perhaps they were at that show, or they can share that performance with friends and family virtually. Stormstress released a recording of their performance from their debut show of a song called “Corpses Don’t Cry”; a yet to be released track from their upcoming album.
· Curating Spotify playlists Streaming music is the new way artists are measured. While they may not get much back financially from it, music business executives look at their streaming stats. Artists are creating Spotify playlists of music from friends and idols, then sharing it with their fans. Fans can find new music while supporting their favorites. Many of the artists featured on these playlists are unsigned, or independent, musicians. Gaining new followers and increasing their streams is a big deal for their careers.
· Collecting pictures from fans With new music, comes music videos. Lyric and montage videos are the way things are being done right now. Musicians, like Raye Zaragosa and Liz Bills, are collecting pictures and videos from fans to create music videos for recently released songs. Liz is collecting pictures of mothers and their children for the video to her song “Mama’s Song”, while Raye was accepting pictures and videos of girl doing powerful things for her upcoming video release of “Fight Like A Girl”. Bands like Delta Rae and Stormstress are using lyric videos to promote their new releases.
Amanda is an avid music lover who tends to gravitate towards female musicians and female fronted bands. "I truly believe that music has to be experienced and not just heard." You can follow her at @manna1021 on Instagram.
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