The cancellation of the 2020 SXSW film festival following the mass outbreaks of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) has brought widespread disappointment to fans, artists, and technicians.
However, if you’re an artist, this festival cancellation doesn’t have to mean that the world doesn’t get to hear your music. With today’s technology it’s easier than ever to stream performances and connect with fans from anywhere.
We’ve put together a list of ways you (as a musician) can share your music and grow your fan base despite not being able to perform on stage.
Build Your Brand on Social Media
Social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and now even TikTok are great places to spread your music and let fans get to know who you are while also participating in social distancing. Depending on where you film, conditions might not be the best for vocals or acoustics but it’s still good to take this time to get your name out there.
Since people in most states and countries are affected by this virus, use common situations, such as quarantine, social distancing and the war over toilet paper, to connect with fans. It can be documenting quarantine activities, providing snippets of songs or beats that would have been played at any concerts or festivals, holding Q&A sessions, really anything to get your personality, music and content out to fans, both devoted and new.
This break from tours and other gigs leaves a lot of time to write new lyrics or create new music. Try to supply followers with sneak peaks to build up anticipation and excitement for when life gets back to normal. Maybe even bring them behind the scenes of a studio session or your process. One thing is for sure, once everyone is allowed out of their houses they’ll be sprinting towards their next concert, especially to hear new material.
On March 17th, John Legend went live on Instagram and IGTV (in his robe and underwear) to play the songs that his followers requested to hear in the chat. This was a great way for him to interact with his fans, share his music and keep them involved all while staying six feet apart (and then some).
The Instagram live feature, “allows users to stream videos to followers and engage with them in real time”. It’s great for getting followers involved by having them lead the conversation by asking questions about topics that they’re interested in.
Facebook also has a live option that operates very similarly to Instagram live and it’s Live Reactions feature lets you know if your audience is having fun.
Depending on the age of your audience, TikTok is another platform that can attract younger audiences. It’s the place to tell embarrassing stories, show your version of trending dances and reach new audiences. You can even add music to your TikTok whether it be from the app’s stock or your own personal library. Countless videos are of people creating dances to popular songs so getting yours out there is a quick way to get people interested in and connected to your music.
Coordinating each platform you post on is also important. If you make a new TikTok or YouTube video make sure to encourage your followers on Instagram and Facebook to go check it out. Providing direct links makes it even easier for interested viewers to learn more about you and your music no matter which platform they’re on.
Due to social distancing people are bound to be spending most of their time scrolling through posts and videos and there’s no limit to the amount of viewers who will come across your content. You also never know what potential post-pandemic collaborations could arise from the social media interactions you make today.
Bring Music to Virtual Reality
Unfortunately, no one really knows how long we’ll be in quarantine mode so for a more long term plan you might want to consider virtual reality concerts. Virtual reality is an up and coming technology that is often associated with video games and headsets, but a few apps have been adapted for those in the music world. The best part is that audiences can pay to watch their favorite artists perform even if they weren’t able to snag tickets.
At times like these when large gatherings aren’t allowed, virtual reality makes it possible to hold a concert from anywhere. Sure it will be an entirely different atmosphere than your usual gig and obviously, you won’t be able to stream real concerts but get creative with where you perform. Studios or backyards are just some places that can offer a unique experience to viewers.
If you’re a DJ, NextVR’s partnership with Central Station Records brings “up-close-and-personal access to some of the hottest electronic music artists”. Melody VR is another option for singers and musicians. Lewis Capaldi actually went live with Melody VR with an intimate LA performance and made a funny promo video about the app’s features, especially its 360 swivel viewing abilities.
As we enter this strange time of self-isolation, social distancing, and panic it’s important to remember that this doesn’t have to be the end of your music career. Embrace the break and take the time and energy concerts and tours would take up and put it towards new areas that get people more familiar with you, hopefully amassing new fans who will attend your shows and tours once they can leave the safety of their homes.