Taiwanese band Mayday are to play an online concert today, the band announced on Facebook on Monday.
The band is joining a growing number of artists worldwide who have been using online performances in the past few months to connect with fans during the COVID-19 pandemic and to raise funds for those affected by the disease.
Billie Joe Armstrong of the US band Green Day, Lady Gaga and other artists performed from home on April 18 as part of the fundraising campaign One World: Together At Home, which was streamed on YouTube. On March 16, Coldplay lead vocalist Chris Martin performed from his home, streaming the performance on Instagram. Other artists such as John Legend have been holding fundraising performances on streaming platform Twitch.
The response from fans has been overwhelmingly positive.
In the comments section of the YouTube video of Martin’s home performance, one user named Andina Firmandiani wrote: “Thank you Chris, it kinda helped me with the anxiety I have here in Indonesia.”
Another user named Elli wrote: “This made my day, these songs have helped me so much that it feels so amazing to hear Chris sing them just casually.”
The success artists have had streaming their performances shows that it could be a viable format even after the pandemic has abated, but some improvements are needed to make it really work.
For example, Texas-based singer-songwriter Rene Kladzyk said in an interview: “While livestream concerts are a fun way to connect with your fans, it’s not a replacement by any means, and [does not provide] the ability to make any real income.”
It is true that Instagram does not provide any income to content creators, and YouTube and Twitch are only viable sources of income for the most popular creators.
However, it is a problem that only fans who follow the artists on social media would know about the live performances, whereas casual fans might miss out.
Still, more than 5 million people watched Martin live on Instagram, and 2.5 million watched a video of the performance later on YouTube.
If online performances became a regular thing, they could be marketed in the same way as live concerts. Record labels could develop a platform for concerts to avoid the limitations of social media. They could sell access to live performances, meaning that traditional concerts would not need to disappear.
Those seeking the best of both worlds could explore the option of virtual-reality (VR) streams — which is where Taiwanese firms could come in.
Regularly streamed or VR-streamed concerts, in which users don a light headset that immerses them in the concert environment, and gives them a 360-degree view, could be held at short notice, and would be free of contingencies such as natural disasters or pandemics.
Such experiences would free artists and labels from the logistical and health costs of touring, make concerts accessible to physically immobile fans and allow viewers more control over the experience.
For example, a viewer could take off the headset in the middle of a performance and go to the toilet, take a telephone call or grab a snack. Experiences could be customized, allowing a viewer to have a private concert, or be in a virtual concert hall with thousands of screaming fans. They could also adjust the volume and lighting of the concert, or see their favorite band on the beach in the Caribbean, or on the grass in front of the Eiffel Tower.
Labels could sell limited numbers of virtual “backstage passes,” allowing 20 or so fans to each have five minutes of screen time with their favorite artist. VR headsets could be rented and sent to fans via courier.
Taiwanese companies could use their strengths in technology to be at the forefront of a new type of concert experience.
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