COVID-19’s Effect on the Music Industry


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By Katie Van Lew

COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on many businesses and industries. Along with the food, sports, and entertainment industries, the music industry stands at the forefront of industries that have taken one of the greatest hits during the pandemic. The music industry relies heavily on ticket revenue from live concerts to be able to support artists, and due to the contagious nature of the virus, many musicians cannot currently host live concerts. Many musicians have been forced to push back their concerts a full year, with many of these performances being pushed back as far as the summer of 2021. 

The music industry greatly profits off of live performances, as they alone bring in about $30 billion annually. Streaming services such as Spotify profit off of musicians, robbing artists of their own craft as artists are paid less than a dollar per stream, and many of the profits go to big streaming services. From the total profit accumulated through streaming songs, Spotify, record labels, and producers profit the most, with artists profiting the least from their own work. Many musicians rely on their live performances to support their craft and continue to curate their art. 

In an Instagram post released on June 10, singer Harry Styles addressed the impact of COVID on his highly anticipated “Love on Tour.”

“This summer we were excited to be bringing Love On Tour to North America,” said Styles in the post. “However, due to the ongoing threat from [COVID-19] we have been forced to reschedule these dates to next summer. The well-being of my crew, and all the fans around the world will always hold top priority. I can’t wait to see you all out on the road, as soon as it’s safe to do so.” 

Billboard, an American entertainment brand, most notably known for the “Billboard Hot 100” has compiled an updated list of music events that have been postponed due to COVID-19. Many artists scheduled to tour such as Harry Styles, Billie Eilish, and Alicia Keys have been forced to postpone tours for the safety of all those involved in the experience. The summertime music festivals in the United States, a time in which fans come together to belt out the lyrics to their favorite songs at music festivals, have also been canceled. Among the biggest music festivals in the country, Coachella and Stagecoach, have had to shut down amid the virus concerns. Festival-goers are disappointed with the news that they will have to wait until April 2021 to attend many of these events, as Coachella announced that the virus will prevent headliners such as Frank Ocean, Lana del Rey, and Travis Scott from performing. Tickets purchased in anticipation of 2020 Coachella will be honored for Coachella’s new concert dates in April of next year.

Despite the many cancellations of tours and festivals, many musicians have been able to make the most of quarantine. Months of isolation have proven fruitful for many artists with large social media followings. Artists such as Jack Harlow, Kehlani, and Justin Bieber, have kept their craft alive by producing at home music videos. Popular girl group Haim recorded a music video for their single, I Know Alone, on a basketball court, with band members standing six feet apart as they dance to their song.

During a time of self-isolation, many artists such as Rex Orange County, John Mayer, and John Legend have taken to Instagram to livestream concerts for fans watching at home. In a livestream on Instagram, Rex played music from his own discography, while simultaneously taking requests from fans on his livestream. Concert live streams have proven successful, with as many as 20,000 people watching their favorite artists perform from the safety of their home.

Although the music industry faces unique challenges, artists have been able to revive their art by producing low-budget music videos at home, and connecting with fans through their live streams. With many concerts and festivals canceled, fans grieve the loss of summertime musical gatherings yet remain hopeful with at home concerts and the birth of new music.

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