Virtual Concerts: Sign of the Times, or Sign of Things to Come?

Just a thought piece. Food for thought. What have you.

The global pandemic effecting our lives, some more than others, has been ongoing for a while now. As such, some businesses and services that are deemed essential continue on while those workers try to avoid getting sick. But what about non-traditional jobs? Artists, for lack of better terminology. How are people who are depending on going on tour to pay their bills getting by? I’m not talking about millionaire rocks stars here, I’m talking about the person or band who is trying to break big, and is not able to do the stand-up circuit, or can’t play the dive bars anymore? Not only are people in these positions not able to go to their place of employ, but with millions of people stuck at home mostly with reduced income, how can they justify spending money on these sorts of entertainment anymore? These questions won’t be answered with this post, but it did spark an idea regardless. 

I should preface this with the fact that I did not create the idea of a virtual concert, but seeing one promoted on social media the other day, I have since watched the resulting YouTube video for this, and though it wasn’t amazing, it was something that the average joe (which these guys clearly are) could do in order to make some change. Here’s what I’m talking about:

I should note that Psychostick aren’t completely unknown, and have funded albums via Kickstarter, so they aren’t strangers to alternate earning tactics. But I wouldn’t say that these guys are famous. Chances are you’ve never heard of them until now, but I’ve known about them for over a decade. These things happen. Whatever the case, you can see that they have a widget on screen where they are accepting tips, and they had a goal of $1100 to “pay studio rent.” So they basically put on this concert for free, but left it open for people to tip. It’s likely most of the people watching and tipping were already fans of the band, but you can’t rule out other donations either. Whatever the case, they managed to fill that goal long before their “concert” was over. So they took the time to get a live stream and cameras set up, set up their equipment and basically filmed a band practice and made a bunch of money off of it. That’s not to say just anyone could do this nor that everyone would be as successful at making a living at it, but even if it’s just enough to get by it’s something to consider. 

What’s challenging about this is that this is the first time in my life that I can recall seeing virtual concerts. I know that many concerts and live shows are filmed so I’m not stranger to watching a YouTube video of said content, but the idea of participating in a live concert in the same context is sort of weird right? Is this only acceptable because of the fact that people are on quarantine and have nothing better to do? Or do you think there might be something more here? I mean if you can’t be in Santa Monica to watch the LCS live, it’s still okay to watch the live stream and feel like you’re participating in something right? What about BlizzCon Virtual Tickets, or comparable live coverage of conventions from halfway across the world? Some of these things have found acceptance in our daily lives, so why couldn’t a concert be the same? Do you need the sweaty, smelly bodies writhing around you for it to be legit? Why couldn’t I watch a comedy show that’s airing in New Zealand from North America at the same time as people in South Korea? 

I’m honestly for it. I would love to see some of my favorite bands live, but I would take an intimate basement live stream just the same. I’d watch a stand up comic do his set in front of the mirror. If the content is good, it rarely matters how it is experienced. I suppose you could argue that the feeling of the music wouldn’t be the same, and I can attest to that having been in a band before. But I’d argue that many people don’t have the time to go to concerts or see other live entertainment, but would gladly decompress with it on the couch with a much cheaper beer in hand. What do you think?