But are live streams a viable replacement? Survey says, sadly no
However elaborate and popular live stream festivals have been, unfortunately the IMS predicts them as an unsustainable ongoing replacement to live music.
Typically, live streams have operated as primarily fundraises and brand awareness, which is great, but doesn’t offset venue and booking operating costs. However, in the meantime, independent venue live stream events like Portland’s 45 East have proved to be successful in emergency funding to keep the doors open until live music will return. With the help of Delta Heavy, they covered bare staff expenses and donated the remainder to the NAACP of Oregon. It’s possible that live streams can become profitable, but the large matter of audience attention could decay after extended time.
Drive-in gigs have also become popular more recently as states in the US move past stay-at-home orders to phased reopening. With more opportunities for live event sales and the more traditional mass gathering setup, more production companies are turning towards this option. However, the fine balance of infrastructure required to safely hold these events in such large capacities may not match the needed profitability.
That leaves the European experiment of distanced dance floors. The physical space needed to hold these events is smaller than a giant field or parking lot. Even so, the capacity reduction will not present a viable longer-term intermediate step back into traditional concerts. While this at least opens some of the more spacious venues to reopen, the profit margin remains slim.
What does the future of dance music hold in a post-COVID19 world? Well, that’s upto us
Globally, live dance music has seen a steady valuation decrease following peak 2016-levels. But reversing the decline in recent years, 2019 actually turned a 2% growth. This is great news for what the post-COVID-19 future of live music can look like. Although the industry turmoil looks to be far from over, there’s still hope embedded in positive momentum for dance music.
Specifically, the innovation that bolstered the beginnings of electronic music plays a huge advantage. Being able to adapt to changing technology is something that the scene has excelled at since inception. Now with live streams and branching into online video game software like Minecraft, the possibilities are endless.
Ultimately, how quickly live concerts are able to return depends on our behavior. By washing hands, wearing masks, and avoiding large crowds indoors, we’ll be able to mitigate some of the damage to our industry. In the meantime, there is high risk to rolling the dice on large mass gatherings. If our community commits to holding each other accountable and continues exploring new avenues for connection, we’ll be reunited sooner than later to watch our favorite artists live.
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