COVID-19 has changed the way almost all industries work, including the entertainment industry. Concerts and shows have suddenly been cancelled or postponed whilst the people who work behind the scenes have suddenly stopped working for the foreseeable future. This had led to events being held virtually via live stream and charities being formed to help employees of the industry. Celebrities including Niall Horan and Kylie Minogue have held virtual concerts to raise money whilst local entertainment has also gone online.
Lindsay McGone, a 22-year-old care worker and self-employed stage manager told us how she’s adapted her business due to COVID-19.
“Before COVID, I typically managed burlesque shows. That was my kind of niche so I’ve been doing that for around four to five years so I’d go to different shows and stage manage. I’m actually now producing my own virtual events so I have produced one charity show and I’m in the process of producing the second one where we raise money for charity and we make sure we can still pay performers as well.”
“It’s good that we’ve got that possibility and we’re really having to think outside the box and create our own opportunities and create ways to make work. It’s good that we’ve got that option but it’s not as good as doing it in real life.”
Lindsay also spoke about the lack of her support that some of her fellow friends and colleagues have received from the government:
“I don’t need support from the government because I do have a part time job, but I know that a lot of my friends in similar situations have literally received pretty much none because they are classed as self-employed which isn’t covering the arts.”
The lack of the support from the government has led to charities being formed such as We Need Crew. We Need Crew have said on their website: “The UK’s live music touring crew are at breaking point. “The highly skilled members that quickly become family on the road are in danger of facing the journey to nowhere with no financial support from the government. “They are the backbone to the live touring industry and without them, there may be no tours to return to.”
The new virtual entertainment hasn’t just benefitted the crew though; fans can also now enjoy seeing their favourite artist live as almost every concert due to go ahead this year has been cancelled or postponed.
Artists such as Kylie Minogue, Niall Horan, Sam Smith and Metallica have already taken to the virtual stage whilst artists including Louis Tomlinson and Jessie J will be performing next month. West End shows such as The Last Five Years, Emilia and The Showstoppers are also now being shown virtually via a livestream.
Music fan Niamh Brownhill, who has attended numerous virtual concerts and Instagram live streams throughout lockdown said:
“I love attending virtual concerts or Instagram lives of artists during the pandemic as it’s prevented me from attending gigs which I’ve loved since I was 14. Artists like Yungblud hosting virtual concerts gives you something to look forward to and it makes you forget what’s going on and instead focus on the music. It is a massive sense of community because you’re interacting with the artist but also fans from across the globe.”
It seems that even though virtual concerts will never live up to a real life concert, they are extremely important for the industry and the fans right now, so it looks like they are here to stay.