Guest Writer Nicole McCray www.nicolemccray.com
The music industry was hit hard by the coronavirus, affecting many musicians. It resulted in the cancellations of multiple shows and concerts in venues and performance spaces across the country.
The sudden cease in live shows impacted almost every kind of music genre. Live music made up a lot of revenue for musicians who toured frequently. With sales of tickets on hiatus, musicians had to develop new and creative ways to keep making and monetize music for their fans to keep their careers afloat.
Recorded music became a central focus for streaming, digital downloads, sales of records, and licensing for creatives. Musicians could focus inward and complete various recordings and other musical projects with the extra time on their hands. The shift from live to recorded streaming has resulted in taking up most of the music revenue, and it became music’s new “normal.”
Technology gave many people the ability to still be together, in a sense. The power that technology provided for artists allowed building new, innovative music collaborations and promoted more creativity through the use of video and live stream during lockdowns and stay-at-home orders.
Here are some changes and unexpected partnerships that occurred that demonstrated music is still very much a part of our lives and how musicians could still bring their music to people stuck at home.
CREATIVE AND COLLABORATIVE MUSICAL HITS
Country music, in particular, was only one of two genres (the other being children’s music – no surprise there) that has grown in popularity with people during the pandemic. Country music also paved the way for creative collaborations and songs that gave people reliability, hope, and comfort during this uncertainty.
Gabby Barrett was one such singer who gained popularity with her hit song “I Hope”, hitting a huge number of streams for three solid weeks and topped three major Billboard Country Charts. It also became the first debut single by a woman to top Billboard’s Country Streaming Songs chart, giving her immense mainstream success.
“BETWEEN ME AND THE END OF THE WORLD”
Some hit country songs made during this time were directly tied to the virus as well. Adam Hambrick’s song “Between Me and the End of the World” was a tribute to his wife who was on the front lines fighting COVID-19 treating patients. It was a song that many could relate to and provided deep comfort to those who needed music to help them cope through some of the most challenging situations.
Singer Grace Potter collaborated with vocalists Jackson Browne, Marcus King, Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig of Lucius on the memorable song “Eachother.” This was a sensational tune of hope that reminded us all that we are not alone because “We’ve got each other / And for now, that’s enough.” It is a lovely song allowing us to consider the things that matter the most to us, which are the people in our lives.
“TOGETHER (WE’LL GET THROUGH THIS)”
Steven Curtis Chapman was inspired by the editorial series from FOX called America Together, so much so that he wrote and produced the ballad “Together (We’ll Get Through This).” He enlisted the assistance of country singers Brad Paisley and Lauren Alaina, along with the gospel singer Tasha Cobbs Leonard, to collaborate together for this uplifting country song.
The collaboration resulted in the artists then taking proceeds from their earnings to go towards the Opry Trust Fund and Gospel Music Association in assistance to those that were, and are, affected by the pandemic. It is a great way to bring awareness about the loneliness we all feel and to help those in need during this time.
Music is a creative venture, and drawing together with other music artists, songwriters, and producers, the option to collaborate on a virtual level worked well for keeping the music industry going. Virtual lessons, masterclasses, and live stream concerts with virtual tip jars for fans allow artists to continue making and playing music, reaching even more widespread audiences in the virtual world.
Musicians soon found that utilizing promotion streaming services or working with a custom music production team helped their music be heard and picked up by creatives and producers that they would not have connected with if not relying on technology. Licensing and productions addressed issues with digital copyrights, developing royalty-based systems for musicians to take their independently copyrighted recordings and earn income through allowing commercial use.
Adapting to the changes in the world and finding ways to collaborate and assist other artists helped bring people together and kept the music alive and well. The pandemic developed hurdles for artists to use alternate strategies for promotion and monetization. Virtual concerts have been drawing new audiences who are missing their typical live shows, and musicians create VIP opportunities for superfans over virtual platforms.
Social media has also boomed through music on TikTok, promoting new ways for songs to go viral. The trends suggest that even though we still hope that it is only temporary, and soon we will be back in concert halls and performance venues, there may be more long-term changes in how musicians create and fans consume music in a more digitally infused manner.
Music is a universal language, and many of the songs and collaborations suggest that we are all together in spirit, even though the pandemic keeps us from gathering in person. Virtual collaborations to create music and produce videos and the social media role in promotion have given new innovations in the music industry, paving the way for more engagement from technology-savvy fans. The country music world has thoroughly expressed that we can all find ways to stay connected in music, even when we are forced to be apart.
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