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Virtual Concerts - the new normal for live music?

With the Coronavirus pandemic cancelling many live shows, artists are trying different ways to give fans the chance to watch live music but from the comfort of their home.

Virtual concerts are taking social media by storm with different artists playing nearly every night of the week!

The concerts that were changed from live to online on Talentbanq saw artists playing live stream gigs at Camden Chapel.

Eve, who has now been named the ‘Stream Queen’, is the marketing manager for Talenbanq and she thinks that live streamed concerts have brought musicians together: “I think the pandemic at the moment it has brought a sense of community and in the music industry especially as well.

“It’s very different to obviously playing live and some artists just struggle to get used to it and others are thriving with it so it’s working different for everyone but it’s the new normal now so that’s all we can do.”

The concerts that you can see on platforms such as Facebook and YouTube vary from rock music to classical music, to pop music and live DJ sets and it is all available to watch from the comfort of your own home!

Another virtual concert went ahead last weekend and aims to act like a festival but also gives viewers backstage access and Q&A’s with the artists.

Virtual Sounds included different stages, much like a festival with a range of artists involved.

Credit: Thea Paraskevaides

Thea Paraskevaides, the founder of Virtual Sounds, came up with the idea after she saw musicians have gigs cancelled and postponed until the end of next year due to the pandemic.

She said: “It wasn’t like that you were watching a live concert you could then have conversations with these people, and they can teach you afterwards.

“It’s a more immersive experience we are basically just trying to recreate an actual festival with things happening at different times on multiple stages.”

Katie Beardsworth, founder and director of Polyphony Arts, manages artists that were involved in Virtual Sounds and said that she thought it was great that musicians were being payed for their work: “I thought it was amazing to have it turned around so quickly and to be a real industry leader in the thing that everybody has been thinking of doing.

“I think with lockdown it making people doing things that they wouldn’t normally do. Thea really thought about what was possible with it being online.”

Katie is also involved in Stage Hub which was created by Martin Kendrick. Stage Hub gives musicians the chance to live stream from their site and be able to charge like you would a concert and is hoping to launch soon.

One of the performers at Virtual Sounds was Derek Brown. Derek has played the saxophone for about 25 years but found the shift to the virtual concerts a bit overwhelming.

Credit - Derek Brown

Derek has played in front of audiences with his show BEATBOX SAX which he travelled around the world with.

He has now swapped live audiences for his living room as a headliner for Virtual Sounds. He said: “While my setup was very basic it was still fun knowing that new people were listening in from around the world. It encouraged me to upgrade my setup and explore more virtual events like this.

“I think that's one of the most important things we have to figure out in these virtual concerts and how to keep our audiences as engaged as they would be in a concert hall or club.”

After Virtual Sounds Derek decided to do his own payed live show and has another planned for July 10th.

Whilst artists are practicing and performing at home, it has become a lot more difficult for bands to come together and make music.

Handsome Jack’s Showband are a four-piece group who wanted to start band practice in March and were scheduled to play a gig in April.

However, after lockdown at the end of March they looked for alternatives online but found sites like Zoom impossible because of the lag of the video.

One band member, Adam, said that if the other members were spread around the world it would not work for them and that streaming concerts is not ideal: “I haven't seen anyone other than us trying to do this yet, but there's going to be limits on how far apart they can be. We're all in London with latency to our server of about 5 milliseconds.

“Streaming to a larger audience who can interact through YouTube-chat or whatever isn't even close to capturing the point of an actual gig. It could well be good for actual creativity outside of industry though. If you take money out of the equation, then it's a way for performers to interact with a tiny audience.”

Music artists aren’t the only one keeping us entertained, Natalie Reeves-Billing performs her split perspective books for children to help them understand the pandemic and coronavirus. She has also made the books accessible to anyone no matter the circumstances.

Credit - Natalie Reeves Billing

Natalie has used the latest peak in live streams to start singing her books so children can watch and learn from home. Her book Ben and the Bug is about a boy who comes across the virus, but he doesn’t realise it is making him sick.

Natalie hopes her signing her book can help families though the tough times: “It’s a very hopeful message it very clear about washing your hands it not scary or fearful its full of hope. It makes you feel like you are doing something useful.

“I just thought anything I can do for people and families to stay connected the idea for the split perspective books was so children can see why their parents feel the way that they do.”

Written by Imogen Holland

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