This must be the longest I’ve gone without going to a gig since I was 16 years old.
Of all the lifestyle changes caused by the coronavirus pandemic, lack of access to live music is perhaps the hardest to get used to.
Living in London and working in the music industry, we’ve become used to having multiple concert options every night of the week, from underground club shows to stadium spectaculars. It’s only now it’s gone that we can truly appreciate what a privilege that is.
We’re still a long way off experiencing live music any time soon; the UK lockdown has been extended for at least three more weeks and, with European bans on mass gatherings extending deep into the summer, any return to major concerts won't be happening until things have been back to something approaching normal for a long time. Whether the livestreaming explosion can plug the gap in the meantime is the subject of this week’s cover story (see the new issue of Music Week, out today) and, for me at least, considerable debate.
Lord knows the live sector has enough on its plate already, but it’s worth devoting some time to thinking about what gigs should be like, if and when they’re back on the agenda.
When the venues reopen, the hardcore will no doubt be first in the queue. But the live sector will need time to get itself back up to speed and many fans will take even longer before they decide it’s safe to attend another mass gathering.
The communal experience is key to live music's appeal – but communal experiences are what everyone is currently trying to avoid
It’s those more casual fans who will be crucial to the live industry recovery especially if, unlike me, they’ve found they can get by without the buzz of live gigs. For many, the communal experience is a key part of live music's appeal – but communal experiences are what everyone is currently trying to avoid.
Despite big advances in recent years, few venues and festivals truly feel hygienic, even at the best of times. That’s why the Oak View Group, which owns venues including Madison Square Garden, is already talking about venue deep cleans between shows and more touchless technology at shows. US President Donald Trump is already talking about reopening cinemas under strict social distancing protocols – could that be an option for seated concert venues?
Those and other measures, including extensive staff training, may be needed to get the general public back on board with gig-going, and the live sector will need everyone’s support to make that happen.
Because there can be no social distancing in a moshpit. So the industry needs alternative solutions if the shows are going to go on.
* To read Music Week's cover story on the livestreaming phenomenon, see the new issue of Music Week, available now. To make sure you can access Music Week wherever you are, subscribe to our digital issue by clicking here.