Among the many ifs and whats surrounding the upcoming year of 2021 — the second year of the COVID-19 pandemic — what the future holds for live concerts and festivals is a mystery for many music fans everywhere.
Although virtual music events and other remote entertainment experiences are taking off amidst the pandemic lockdowns, there will likely be a return to in-person shows once things finally return back to “normal.” After all, there’s nothing quite like the experience of attending a beloved artist’s concert or enjoying a major music festival in person.
The Future of Music and Automation
One of the most interesting changes to come out of the current COVID-19 pandemic was the sudden plunge into the virtual world. Remote work, schooling, and even virtual hobbies quickly became a thing. Of course, remote avenues existed before the pandemic, but no one could have anticipated an event like COVID-19 forcing society into the virtual way of life we all know now.
This is mostly thanks to the strides in technology we’ve made throughout the years. However, while this new virtual world has worked out for many industries, it isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. For certain industries, such as music and the arts, the current tech-based direction society is rapidly accelerating towards isn’t necessarily the answer.
Music, most will agree, is powerful for a variety of reasons. Music can make us feel a wild range of emotions, bring back fond memories, and most importantly, help us feel human. This means that while our world continues to see jobs becoming completely tech-based, the music industry is likely to remain safe from this new direction of automation.
Furthermore, not only is music a human creation but everything else that helps make concerts and festivals such an amazing experience for fans is often human-made, too. Think of all the eye-catching stage costumes, well-crafted makeup and hair looks, and choreography — all these things rely on the creative skills of humans.
These complementary professions and others in the entertainment industry, such as makeup artists and writers, thrive automation-free and only help the music industry grow. While it is certainly possible to have a mostly automated concert, including a cyber singer, there will always be listeners who prefer the human nature of concerts, festivals, and more.
Is There an End in Sight?
Heading into the year 2021, we at least have an idea of what we’re up against in regards to the COVID-19 virus. After nearly a full year of stay-at-home orders, remote working and learning, as well as masks and social distancing guidelines, we’re finally seeing vaccines becoming more accessible to the public. In fact, starting with the use of Remdesivir last year, which was developed in 2015 as part of the efforts to find treatments for the Ebola epidemic, we’ve begun fighting back.
In a (virtual) conference hosted by the Association of Performing Arts Professionals, Dr. Anthony Fauci, who is considered the United States’ top health expert, noted that if everything stays on track with vaccinations, music events can recommence as soon as this fall. Music to a concert-goer’s ear, right?
However, it’s important to note that supply is a huge concern for vaccination rollout right now. This could, unfortunately, slow down the timeline for the re-opening of concert and festival venues. There is also the concern that, as cases go down and vaccines become more and more available, people will adopt a false sense of confidence and the spread of COVID-19 will continue. That being said, Dr. Fauci’s hope for the coming year is at least a good sign that festivals and concerts will once again be something we get to attend and enjoy.
Thinking Outside the Box
As the direction of the pandemic shifts and changes with the rollout of vaccines, as well as new COVID-19 variants popping up throughout the world, it’s still hard to know what to expect in the coming year. The majority of the world is at a point in the pandemic where attending events such as live concerts is still extremely risky. However, the future remains full of musical possibilities and adventures.
Today, places all over the world have been working to invent new ways to safely enjoy things like concerts. In the U.K., they were able to host their first social-distance concert where fans watched the show in groups of up to five on platforms safely distanced from other groups. In Germany, they tested an indoor concert setting that involved sufficient ventilation, strict hygiene protocols, and limited capacity with great success. The pandemic has caused a number of changes within the world. It’s impacted the everyday lives of people everywhere, forever. But as 2021 unfolds, it’s worth remembering that music, and the joy it brings us, whether virtually or in-person, will always remain. And one day, when COVID-19 is no longer a threat, you can begin planning your first festival post-pandemic