It is safe to say that the global pandemic has transformed almost every business, whether they were ready for transformation or not. A recent meme doing the rounds on LinkedIn asked: what is the most significant driver of innovation in your business: your CEO, your CTO or COVID-19? The pandemic has consummately transformed the music business. The traditional avenues of performance, distribution and monetization have been triaged by lockdown measures hemorrhaging the flow of both audiences and revenues. But while the concert venues might be empty, the lockdown has arguably inspired a dynamic new approach to live streaming as creatives embrace new ways to connect with their audiences. It is an important place to be; even before the pandemic, live streaming was forecast to become a $70 billion industry by 2021.
One enterprising priest from Portugal is using technology to connect with his flock, and DJing his way through the crisis. Guilherme Peixoto, Roman Catholic parish priest by day and “DJ Padre Guilherme” by night, offers live streaming DJ sets to his parish and beyond. “Right now, it’s so important to use social media to bring a bit of joy into people’s lives,” Peixoto told Reuters. “And people seem happy when they see a priest playing music online.” Peixoto’s elaborate online DJ sets attract many thousands of people, old and young, who are stuck at home during the lockdown in Portugal, where Coronavirus has infected almost 16,000 people and led to over 470 deaths. Peixoto today announced he will be hosting a special Easter Sunday event from Senhora da Saúde via his Facebook and Instagram pages. “Easter is joy, hope, and new life. Let’s celebrate this with music and a lot of movement.” Peixoto will be using a unique pair of headphones while DJing, they were blessed by Pope Francis when Peixoto visited the Vatican.
Live streaming is not only helping the innovative DJing priest, but members of the clergy are using it elsewhere to connect with parishioners in more traditional ways. Fr Alan Gyle, the Vicar of St Paul’s Knightsbridge in central London, explains; “The work of the church necessarily involves gathering people in community, and so the present lockdown provides an opportunity to be creative in both sustaining our community life and staving off the impact of isolation and loneliness. Streaming a short service of prayer each day via YouTube is sustaining our worshipping life, and Zoom is proving to be a fantastic tool for hosting virtual coffee mornings and ‘More tea, Vicar?!’ parties. We even had 70 people share a pre-lunch drink on Sunday! And our parishioners are inviting their friends. New connections are being made. It’s wonderful to see creativity and community continue to thrive, and people-even in these most challenging times-coming up with new ways of living lives which are fully alive.”
The lockdown is encouraging some world-famous performers to step outside of their comfort zones. Superstar DJ Carl Cox is perhaps not the first name who springs to mind when considering where to turn for gardening tips, but with characteristic flair, Cox took to Facebook Live to share some advice on how to grow your own veggies at home. This skill, he advises, will become increasingly important if COVID-19 proves to be a seasonal visitor to the world’s population.
The all too rare Venn diagram of live food preparation and DJ sets is experiencing a sunlit zenith on the roof of the BigCityBeats office in Frankfurt this weekend. Their WORLD CLUB DOME Roof Sessions will be bringing together Russian star chef Alexander Wulf-preparing an Easter menu-with music from A-list DJs like Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike, David Guetta and trance pioneer Paul Oakenfold.
Some of the most prestigious names in the music business are offering new or previously unavailable material during the lockdown. Radiohead has just commenced streaming their archive of live concerts, and have promised to share one every week until “either the restrictions resulting from [the] current situation are eased, or we run out of shows.”
Entertainment giants Live Nation are hosting the LIVE FROM HOME series with streams from a vast range of artists including Biffy Clyro, Ariana Grande, Lewis Capaldi, Elton John, Hozier, Ricky Gervais and Miley Cyrus. The hugely popular Camp Bestival event is being also being offered as a live stream this weekend as the Stay At Home Easter Sleepover. The child-friendly lineup includes “Campsite Bogies” from Dick and Dom, exercise with Mr. Motivator, storytime with Kate Winslet, a DJ set from chill-out pioneer Rob DaBank, and a world premiere DJ set by Nelly Cook with a little help from dad Fatboy Slim. The chill-out continues from the aptly named Chillout Tent on Easter Sunday with ambient maestro Richard Norris performing Music For Healing alongside DJ sets from Chris Coco, Phat Phil Cooper and Rune Lindbaek.
Much of dance music royalty is busy with dedicated events for clubbers in captivity. Yesterday, Defected Records’ third Defected Virtual Festival bought DJ sets from Calvin Harris, Claptone, Roger Sanchez, Sam Divine and others to over 1.5 million people. The biggest Ibiza nightclubs and brands have united this weekend to host the Ibiza Needs Ibiza Beats virtual festival. The event, presented under the auspices of Ibiza’s UD Football team and the influential IMS conference, features world-famous nightclubs including Ushuaïa Ibiza, Hï Ibiza, Pacha Ibiza, Café Mambo and Blue Marlin Ibiza and artists such as Jack Back, Felix Da Housecat, Luciano, Pete Tong and Andres Campo. All are contributing to a non-stop stream of music live on DanceTelevision’s 24/7 Stay Home Festival and generating donations for the Red Cross in Ibiza.
A diverse range of organizations is being empowered by new streaming technology to reach a global audience, such as United We Stream, the virtual festival of culture from Manchester which will run over 12 weeks. The concept started in Berlin and was brought to Manchester by Parklife festival and Warehouse Project co-creator, Sacha Lord. United We Stream will be offering a diverse blend of live music, arts, cooking and poetry, but the purpose isn’t just to entertain. United We Stream is being used to convey public safety advice and health guidance to audiences who traditionally shy away from mainstream broadcast media. The content is free to watch, but viewers are asked for donations to a relief fund supporting restaurants, bars and music venues in Manchester. The workflow for the festival is being powered by a Blackmagic Design production hub. The manufacturer recently launched the ATEM Mini Pro, a low cost live production switcher that enables sophisticated multi-input live streams to be managed and edited on the fly and directly streamed to YouTube Live, Facebook and Twitch via an ethernet connection. This weekend’s lineup includes a tribute the Manchester’s iconic Haçienda nightclub featuring Todd Terry, Roger Sanchez, David Morales, Graeme Park, and Paul Hartnoll from the band Orbital, and a discussion about Manchester culture hosted by author and musician John Robb.
The Royal Albert Hall, one of the U.K.s most iconic music venues, is offering a series of live events streamed directly from performers’ homes. Royal Albert Home places artists such as Rufus Wainwright, Baxter Dury and Idlewild frontman Roddy Woomble alongside performances of Beethoven, Mendelssohn and Saint-Saëns. Woomble, who will be live streaming from his home in the Hebrides on Tuesday April 14 at 7:30pm, comments, “The lockdown offers a pause for us all, and I think it’s a time for reflection more than anything. I think everyone needs to process what is happening. Live music will come back, and we will all be more grateful when it does. I was delighted to be asked to take part in the Royal Albert Hall series of online shows. It is one of the country’s most iconic venues, and one, like hundreds of others that needs our support through this uncertain time.”
Innovation and generosity are everywhere in the creative industry’s response to the pandemic. From grassroots events such as the Zero Experiment virtual gallery fundraiser to the special live concert tomorrow by Andrea Bocelli. The Italian opera singer will be streaming from Duomo di Milano on Easter Sunday to send ”love, healing and hope” to his home country amid the COVID-19 outbreak, the curve of which appears to be thankfully leveling in Italy. The cathedral of Milan is closed during the lockdown, but Bocelli and organist Emanuele Vianelli have been granted exclusive access by Veneranda Fabbrica del Duomo, the 600-year-old organization which supervises the building.
Bocelli’s event is symbolic of the generosity of spirit behind the many streaming events arising from the lockdown. Culture is offering a lifeline during the pandemic, and artists are helping to remedy the fear and isolation which people are suffering from. One cannot help but feel that the outpouring of creativity, powered by the latest streaming technology, will continue long after the dust from the COVID-19 pandemic settles.
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Originally published in Forbes.