COVID-19 changes how fans and artists engage with music

Rapper Travis Scott poses as a video game character on the promo poster for his Fortnite virtual concert. Visit this link to watch the full event.

Sarah Collins, Editor-in-Chief

The coronavirus pandemic has left most people feeling lost and confused. Many have turned to music as a coping mechanism during this difficult time. LDHS students are certainly no exception, particularly senior Maurizo Morales and junior Alivia Berryhill.

Morales finds himself listening to music more now than ever before. He has even branched out of his comfort zone into genres previously unfamiliar to him like classic rock, metal and country.

“I can’t think of a single day I haven’t heard at least one song from my Spotify. I spend, no joke, hours upon hours of my day listening to music because it takes my mind off of things or helps me focus on things I need to work on,” he said.

Berryhill already loved music before the pandemic, but she started to love it more.

“When the pandemic first started and schools closed, it felt nice to go ride around with my music all the way up. It made me happy and allowed me to relate to something,” she said.

Morales and Berryhill are part of the 83 million music fans from around the world who felt their worlds shatter as the upcoming concerts they were so looking forward to were cancelled one by one. Coachella has been cancelled for the third time since the pandemic started. Famous musicians like Mötley Crüe and Billie Eilish have postponed or completely cancelled their upcoming live dates.

Artists themselves are struggling to survive because touring is their biggest source of income. The global music industry is worth over $50 billion with live music making up over 50% of total revenues from ticket sales. This means that career musicians are missing out on billions of dollars that they used to depend on to sustain a comfortable living.

Freshman Jayuanna Johnson thinks that concert cancellations are somewhat unfair.

“We have football games, dance competitions and other things going on, so it’s really not fair that concerts are cancelled. People could all space out and get temperature checks like we do for everything else,” she said.

Nevertheless, musicians are making the best of the pandemic with virtual concerts. Fortnite hosted a live concert featuring rapper Travis Scott that attracted almost 30 million viewers, highlighting the possibilities of the future. The 15-minute show was animated and occurred inside the video game. Machine Gun Kelly is another prominent rapper who held virtual concerts. Kelly performed “Tickets to My Downfall” and “Hotel Diablo” during two shows at the Roxy Theatre. Fans could pay $15 to purchase tickets to either event. All in all, Scott and Kelly are not alone in holding livestream concerts; other artists include the Indigo Girls, Pitbull, Chris Daughtry, Blake Shelton and Metallica.

After seeing so much disruption, Morales is worried about the pandemic’s long-term effects on aspiring artists.

“I think it’s tragic that so much hidden talent or upcoming artists are starting to fail because of this pandemic. We will never truly hear some incredible things because of the missed opportunities financially or spiritually,” he said.

Although the pandemic remains unpredictable, music fans are finding joy in lifted restrictions. Governor Henry McMaster terminated COVID-19 safety measures related to mass gatherings on Monday, March 1. This means that the South Carolina Department of Commerce no longer has to approve events involving more than 250 people. Furthermore, New Zealand’s example proves that local concerts may very well come back into play soon. The island nation has effectively contained the virus and has been able to safely hold large, non-socially distanced events since the end of 2020. Overall, New Zealand’s success at flattening the curve shows what South Carolina should do to take necessary precautions. If South Carolinians are vaccinated, continue to wear masks and practice social distancing, local concerts will surely return, and 2020 will not be the year the music died.