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Electronic music leads industry with heartfelt pandemic response (Opinion)

Credit: “Banana Cam Photo” (https://www.bananacamphoto.com)

There’s no doubt about it—the coronavirus pandemic has irrevocably impacted humankind. In some way, or shape, every person’s life has changed to some degree. Entire industries have shifted, either to becoming entirely based online, or shutting down altogether.

As we adjust to coping with a global trauma in isolation, it’s clear one consistent factor is helping across the world. Music unites communities, from quarantined balconies in Italy, to online concerts hosted by our favorite artists. It feels like nearly every artist who has ever released music responded to the pandemic somehow, but the electronic music genre as a whole is currently driving the future of the music industry. 

Embracing a new normal of live events

A huge slice of EDM’s popularity can be attributed to live event production. Artists and promoters are constantly pushed to creating bigger, more spectacular shows and festivals to enjoy. Beyond recruiting good sound and light equipment and a killer roster, EDM shows are widely regarded for bringing together like-minded people in a positive atmosphere. The high spiritual value of shows pushes the genre to reimagine the current state, when live music ground to a halt.

Perhaps the most prominent example of the quick adaptation comes from Insomniac. Hosting some of the most well-known EDM festivals throughout the country, pressure continues to build on the production brand as stay-at-home orders continue indefinitely. Instead of retreating to radio silence during the initial economic shocks of the pandemic, Insomniac swiftly mobilized. Releasing 24/7 replays of previous live sets from their festivals like EDC Las Vegas and Dreamstate, it also features now-weekly Virtual weekend raves out of their California headquarters.

While more popular streaming platforms YouTube and Twitch consistently pull thousands of views for bigger streams, unexpected channels have grown as well. Disciple threw a label block party on a Minecraft server a few weeks ago, even including headbanging game commands for the virtual pit. Virtual reality is coming to livestream sets as well, making the experience more realistic. 

Spreading awareness and crowdfunding causes

During Insomniac’s “virtual rave-a-thons,” the sweeping message is taking initiative to stay at home and save lives. Showcasing a commitment in matching action to speech, several recent livestream festivals build crowdfunding into the experience.

Beatport’s Reconnect event raised funds for the World Health Organization, and Cardinal Artist’s JVNA-hosted fest supported Feeding America’s COVID-19 Response Fund. Similarly, Brownies and Lemonade with Proximity’s Digital Mirage Festival raised $300k for Sweet Relief—a fund that supports crisis-affected musicians. 

Busking in 2020: taking to streaming platforms

While Sweet Relief and various other funds help COVID-19 impacted musicians, smaller artists whose income depends on touring are particularly tested. Many maintain visibility by releasing more music than ever during this quarantine across channels. Others are offering sample packs, streams or lessons for mixing, or selling merch to offset sunken costs for their crews.

Using platforms like Twitch, live-streaming DJ’s can add on a donate feature to their page. Raising funds through these sets typically isn’t the main goal for artists in this way, however. Instead, it’s seen as a unique opportunity to reach unprecedented numbers of audiences around the world. 

Showcasing throwback favorites, new projects, and unexpected collaborations, electronic music artists wholeheartedly embrace the challenge. Now often without strict time guidelines, artists enjoy performing for hours on end, digging through the now-metaphorical crates. Dubstep icons Virtual Riot and Modestep streamed a set for almost three hours, and JVNA streamed for an entire 24 hours on her Twitch channel!

Artists interacting with fans now more than ever

Ultimately, artists interact with their fans at unprecedented levels. The overall tone of communications is encouraging positivity and connection through music. Through anything from visiting Dabin’s island on Animal Crossing, to FaceTiming with San Holo, and connecting with Porter Robinson on VR, anyone can enjoy staying safe at home.

An impressive community response shaping the future of music

There’s no telling what the world will look like in the aftermath of the pandemic. Core infrastructures, from economic to political, to healthcare, will all be different to some capacity. While some industries suffer through, it’s clear the electronic music landscape is firmly dedicated to innovation. It’s by online shows and hosting fundraisers, and exploring new ways to connect. Through supporting artists and consumers alike, other markets have much to learn from electronic music.

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