Evelyn Ashburn

Writer, The Paper

Published on December 17, 2021

In March 2020, I unknowingly went to my last concert for the preceding year and a half. For all concertgoers, a lack of live music became their reality for the time being. For people who attended shows, no matter the frequency, this came as a big hit among countless hits due to Covid-19. They may have sat around on weekends and craved the sound of live music. They may have missed the energy, the new memories formed around songs one already knew, the dancing, the singing along. Like me, they probably watched live-streamed performances, pretending they were there. The whole music industry was heavily affected, from venues to the artist themselves. Over fifty percent of revenue in the music industry comes from live music and for people and establishments who participate in such, the industry took a large economic loss (weforum). Venues closed, such as the Well in Bushwick, or took huge financial losses, and new methods of presentation, in an effort to stay in business, emerged. Live-streaming and live performance recording increasingly grew, relying on technology that had to be quickly invested in and learned. Along with the massive stresses already placed upon people due to the pandemic, learning a new way of business became an unfortunate reality for many. 

With live music venues closed, artists had to get more creative with how they release their music and content. Live streaming platforms offered an avenue for musicians to stay active and engaged with the people who followed them. Some simply streamed acoustic sets on Instagram live or YouTube, while others set up teams to produce more polished videos that they put out through platforms like Twitch. Some venues even created their own version of these platforms, charging a fee for admittance to the virtual performance. Baby’s All Right, a Williamsburg venue, started their own streaming service named “Baby TV” to support their staff as well as artists who participated, the site even contained a virtual merchandise table. 

Slowly, and thankfully, venues started to open back up starting in April 2021. Things were and still aren’t the same as back in March 2020, however, any capacity of a return to the livelihood live music provides to so many is exciting. In tentatively re-opening, capacity restrictions were put in place which ended up affecting larger venues disproportionately. Other requirements for the opening included a negative Covid-19 test within a short period of the event one was attending or proof of vaccination. With time, and for the noble protection of safety, these restrictions increased. As of now, almost all NYC venues require proof of full vaccination only for admittance to events. This is the closest to safety that we can get right now, and this is the new reality for venues. At the door to a show, we all must be ready with your proof of vaccination in hand, along with your ID.

Even with such precautions for concertgoers, the return to live music might not prove to be so easy. Many do not feel safe or comfortable returning to such events, even if they desperately want the experience of live shows again. And even if they decide to go, being uncomfortable in crowds is a sensation that has grown in people due to the pandemic. Crowds might be too anxiety-inducing, owing to fear of proximity to other people and the spread of the virus. Or, being around masses of others might, logically, just take time to get used to again. Outdoor venues might be a more comfortable alternative for those who aren’t comfortable returning back to packed indoor shows. It’s unfortunate these feelings, the lack of comfort for many and even anxiety for some when it comes to live music, go against the heart of what makes so many of us love live music; the release, the feel of the crowd, and the energy it brings, the ability to not have to worry at the moment, to be taken away by the music.  

 It can be pondered as to when things will be the same for the music industry- and this thought extends to so much of life that was different before Covid-19. But, for now, we can just be as careful and understanding as we can. And continue to support venues and music artists in any way we can!