Written by: Tara
Edited by: Chris
Visual by: Issy
In light of the pandemic, many industries have suffered or even been shut down. The music industry is no exception, with underground artists left struggling to make ends meet, artists and recording companies experiencing large corporate and economic losses, and several musical events canceled, the industry as a whole has been impacted.
One of the most burdensome setbacks caused by the pandemic is the inability to promote music. Antion Dixon, a producer for Beyoncé, states that “The issue is not releasing a project-the bigger issue is promotion…” Promoting the release of an album or song is a key factor in determining how well the song will perform later on since promotions create anticipation for the release. Due to the pandemic, popular talk shows such as The Tonight Show, and youtube interviews, have been canceled. These platforms allow artists to go in depth about their music and engage with fans.
Although artists can promote through social media, the usual wide range of audiences these artists attract cannot all be reached through an Instagram live stream. Famous artists have a large advantage, however, as they already have a large following supporting them. The most impacted are the underground, indie, or lesser-known artists. Since these artists are slightly more obscure, they do not have a concrete fanbase, and thus, promotions are necessary for them to widen their reach and increase their popularity. Due to the cancellation of promotions, many of these artists are hesitant to release music in fear that it may not garner enough attention, and therefore not gain enough profit. Dixon explains, “For those artists who are established and already have a strong following, they can put out new music and people will just run to it. What Beyoncé did on a couple albums — she didn’t promote anything. It popped up on your streaming service and everybody bought in. Those artists can do that.” However, for many, this is not the case, and the pandemic has threatened to end some musicians’ careers.
Due to the financial implications of releasing music during the pandemic, many artists have opted to push back album releases, which has left many fans disappointed. Lady Gaga is one such musician, who pushed the release of her album Chromatica back two months from the previously scheduled date in April. Alicia Keys has also postponed her album Alicia, further demonstrating that even celebrities with massive followings have been impacted by the pandemic. This has dismayed many listeners as, to them, music has been a way of coping with these difficult times.
Despite this, some artists have managed to turn their current circumstances to their advantage. Rich Brian, an up-and-coming artist who is a part of the label 88 Rising, has adapted to the changes posed by the pandemic and instead asked his fans for help. Due to the pandemic, he lost the budget for his latest song, “Love in My Pocket,” so he decided to release an unfinished version of the music video, inviting his fans to help “create” it with him by making edits of him singing in front of a green screen. They responded and made compilations editing him into the backgrounds of different fictional and real locations (e.g. Animal Crossing, the beach), and he compiled them to create a full music video. The concept was met with positive responses, and he was able to closely engage with fans.
With the cancellation of events, albums, and releases, the once vibrant music industry has been subdued. However, many artists have also found other ways, such as Instagram, Twitter, and even direct messages, to communicate and engage with listeners. It is important that in times of struggle, that the spirit of music is still celebrated, through streaming, ordering albums, or even making music at home – which many have already done. Music is universal and diverse, but its value is familiar to all, acting as a source of comfort and enjoyment to so many. No matter how much this pandemic will affect it, the essence of music will endure.
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