Right now, we are in unprecedented times. For live music there is no coming back to the way we were before the pandemic.
Some days feel like we are adrift with no land in sight, and that with so much else that has to be dealt with first- concerts as we knew them feel as far away as crossing the Atlantic in a dinghy.
But maybe, just maybe that isn’t so bad.
In my relatively short 10 years in the music industry, I’ve been involved in, through one capacity or another, toilet venues to arena tours, with most sized venues in between. When I started, shows and industry were still just about boots on streets kinda scenes- at least on the small scale where I started, I mean I actually WENT to venues on a fri night to see live music, WITHOUT knowing what was actually on, kinda seems crazy now!
And that says a lot to me about how things have changed, me and my buddies stopped going because the quality levels really took a dive, and that was directly proportional to the rise of social media and pay to play. (Now I’m NOT saying there definitively linked- but that was the timeline.) Numbers declined, small venues closed, and our city centre got a few more (on top of the already numerous) winebars full of wankers nobody needed.
Spreading my wings into the larger venues, they too have changed. The all-conquering Live Nation and academy group has systematically left its indelible stamp on over 50 percent of ALL the music venues in the UK, not to mention live nation’s steamroller crush across other parts of the globe, its corporate monopoly in ascension. To cut a long story short this has put local promoters at a disadvantage to compete, when shows can ostensibly be run as loss leaders to fund bar/snack sales. Also, the trickle-down effect is I can’t remember the last time I’ve seen homegrown talent support touring bands in a long time.
So, I can tell you one thing for sure- I’m not losing any sleep over live nation’s predicament in the covid crisis (although I do feel for the peeps that have and may lose their livelihoods in live nation).
But here’s the kicker- maybe the pandemic once, and as, it recedes will be a GOOD thing for Underground and mid-level music. Why? Well, already since before the crisis, I was seeing lots of quality metal nights being run on the DIY level springing into life through the hard work of metal fans, good bands good attendance and good deals for everyone. Perhaps now that we all are travelling more carefully, we don’t want to pack in like sardines on the subway to the enormodome to see a band we can barely see on stage while the single remaining member gets wheeled out, so he can fund his lifestyle now his royalties have dried up. Local independent venues with strong DIY ethics I think will see more footfall, as we’re all hungry to see gigs in person after such a drought, and get back to what’s real, that fresh hungry magic that would weave through the crowd as you know your seeing something special new and unique, not a faded vignette of a musical postcard from a band that rocked 40 years ago.
Its feels like the fans are taking back the music from Rock & Metal corp. and putting it back in their own hands- just like it started and just like it should be. A clean slate, fresh humble eyes and a sense of community provided by this pandemic are things that we should all be proud to feel and use to reinvigorate the greatest thing in the world- Metal for the fans, by the fans.
And that makes that new horizon look just a little bit closer.
What do you think? Let me know your thoughts and experiences in the comments below!
Love, peace and metal