Out of the pot and into the fire, is probably one of the more accurate ways to describe the music industry since Covid-19.
You see the global music scene is basically made up of two very important sectors: live music and recorded music. Live music makes up over 50% of the industry’s total revenue and is mainly obtained from ticket sales. Recorded music combines revenue from streaming, digital downloads, physical sales and synchronization revenues (licensing of music for movies, games, TV and advertising).
Although streaming has very well been growing steady over the years and has made up to nearly half of the industry’s revenue, musicians still nevertheless rely strongly on live shows, music festivals/events and tours.
Unfortunately, though, early this year, the world got blindsided with a deadly pandemic which had forced many to go into hiding, including half of the music industry. The global shutdown caused a drop in various sections like sales and streaming, advertising spend and distribution, which in turn caused an estimated loss of about $10 billion.
This major setback didn’t fare well for many countries, including the already drowning Malaysia.
Being a small country on the map with very limited recognition, the Malaysian music scene has always had its own sets of growth issues. From a lack of facilities and education in music, to low wages among musicians and very minimal local or international support, artists within the country have often needed to jump hurdle after hurdle, before actually making it as a performer.
Then Covid-19 presented itself and made things a tad more complicated.
All the places which had the potential to attract large groups of people, including bars and pubs were asked to temporarily shut down. This made things almost impossible, when public performers who performed at said bars and pubs indefinitely lost their jobs.
But, amidst the quarantining and adapting to what could be our new norm, these singers/musicians/DJs also found various methods to survive doing what they loved: performing.
Using the almighty power of the Internet, Malaysian artists like many other countries, looked to online platforms as a means to engage with their audience. Posting pre-recorded videos, releasing music videos on YouTube, performing live on Instagram, Facebook and other social platforms, Malaysian artists used any possible way necessary to keep their music alive.
Now, after what seemed like forever, the country’s restrictions have finally eased up. However, most bars and pubs have still been ordered to remain closed. Aiming to focus more on online concerts and events, any live performance, in Malaysia at least, is more or less still on a temporary halt.
As a matter of fact, many other music industries from all around the world are dealing with similar issues. However, there also have been more effective measures taken by these other countries to help musicians.
Concert trials in Germany
On August 22nd, Germany launched a series of pop up concerts as a means to see how the Coronavirus would spread in large crowds and how to prevent it. The event included about several thousand young healthy volunteers, who were tested negative for Covid-19, 48 hours prior to the concert. It was done in three scenarios.
The first was one with how people would have normally been before Covid-19, the second with multiple entry points and some spacing between concert-goers, and the third with a smaller audience as well as strictly enforced social distancing measures.
Scientists also gave each participant an electronic contact tracing device that recorded their movements and hand sanitizers mixed with fluorescent marking spray to see the surfaces people most frequently touched.
Online customized paid concerts in South Korea
Known as ‘Beyond LIVE’, South Korea took live-events-amidst-a-pandemic, one step further by creating something known as online customized paid concerts.
Put forth by SM Entertainment, home to popular K-Pop groups like EXO and Red Velvet, the event not only streamed performances by favorite K-Pop idols, but also combined augmented reality (AR) technology with 3D graphics and interactive, live video calls between fans and artists.
Besides that, K-pop performance merchandise, including fanlights, were even synced in real time with the concert.
Drive in concerts in various countries
Another popular way by other countries are drive-in concerts.
Very much like a drive-in cinema or a drive-in concert - an arrangement where vehicles park with appropriate space amongst one another to watch a concert from their vehicle, or the space surrounding their vehicle.
The performers would perform from a stage up front with large LED screens. Plans for these concerts have been brought up in countries like the US, UK, Denmark, South Korea and many others.
As Malaysia recovers economically step by step, these few examples are some of the many great ways the local music scene could also do the same.