As we get deeper into the pandemic-powered lockdown, it seems folks are getting antsy to the point of fantasizing about what life will be like once our lives aren’t quite so quarantined. In a recent New York Times magazine piece, it was estimated we music lovers might not be able to enjoy live concerts until the Fall of 2021.
Understandably, many of the musicians who make up the creative community in North Texas have their own predictions as to what the live music landscape will look and sound like down the road, when hopefully things return to something closer to what once was deemed “normal.” We spoke to a few artists we’ve mentioned in recent posts to not only get their predictions as to what life will be like down the road for their industry a year from now.
Local Profile: Do you have any predictions for how the live music landscape will look like a year from now, hopefully after the COVID-19 pandemic has ended.
Country artist Nate Kipp
“I honestly feel like we are going to bounce back from these incredibly unfortunate circumstances that we’ve all been thrown into. However, I also think that it is hard to expect things to be back to normal as before. There will possibly be fewer entrepreneurs, venue startups, and risk takers willing to jump back head first into the entertainment business. But ultimately music will always survive, from the creative side and from the consumer side. It just may not look like it did before the COVID-19 asshole showed up. It’s like a thousand-piece puzzle that’s been dropped and scattered across the floor, you might get it back, but there’s gonna be some pieces missing.”
Chadwick Murray, lead singer of Bastards of Soul
“I would predict that the live music landscape will slowly get back to some version of what we used to refer to as ‘normal’. Even in this strange time we’re in now, folks are finding ways to express their art in creative ways online. I would have to believe that we will see even more refined versions of this along with a strong show of support for the traditional live performance. After months of having to be apart from each other, I believe lovers of live music, performers, and people in general won’t be able to resist getting together and loving one another, indulging that most beautiful of rituals.”
“I honestly don’t [have any predictions]. So far, after three weeks of this shut down/quarantine/whatever we’re calling it, most of the venues I play seem to be holding on, but I don’t know how much longer they can. I read an article about how the major corporate promoters like LiveNation are just waiting in the wings to buy up shows when this is all over and that scares me. I’m an independent, and I probably will always be an independent artist, and the music I love is independent art, so I’m scared that a year from now, there won’t be anywhere to play. But I’m hopeful as well, because some of the best art gets made during adversity, so if things do go south this summer and fall, I think the independents are going to rally around one another and encourage each other to make some really great art. And we’ll find places to play if the corporations won’t let us back into the market. So, long answer short, I’m anxiously watching because it won’t be the same, but how we respond to what it is will be vital to whether or not independent music still gets made around DFW.”
Nathan Mongol Wells, lead singer for Ottoman Turks
“It’s really hard to know what the world will look like in a year, particularly for live music and the industry in general! Allow me to try and sound it all out. Like anything in entertainment, the music industry was very set in its ways. There was a path, a specific way to do everything. Album cycles and tours and singles and streaming and music videos. Anything one produced outside of that system, however cool it may be, was firmly a fringe product. I think live streams were certainly regarded that way. The focus was completely on the live show, the venue, in-person interaction. For one thing, that’s the way it had been for years. It makes sense, that’s one of the primary joys of music. Maybe for that reason, few institutions that I’m aware of, and even fewer individual musicians had invested the time and effort into setting up a professional method of live streaming.
“When all of this came down and the shelter-in-place rules went into effect, all of that went away. Everyone was scrambling to figure out how to make up for the canceled shows, figure out how to bridge that gap in the model: how do we deliver the personal experience that is so intrinsic to what we do? Live streaming was the immediate and obvious choice. Navigating that world has been tough, but it’s been immensely interesting, as well! So many streams, so many artists doing different things, trying one method or another, various levels of professionalism, and there’s been some really beautiful stuff coming out of it that is pretty significant. Kristy Kruger, one of my State Fair labelmates, has been doing a lullaby live every night, everything from Bill Withers to Hank Williams to “Edelweiss” from Sound of Music. I think Jenny Lewis has been streaming herself baking things every night. I watched Sam Morrow make a PB and J. Venues like Double Wide and Ponyboy in Oklahoma City have pretty quickly set up some sweet live series.
“All in all, it seems that when you pull the rug out from under the industry, the artists adjust and deliver earnest performances however they can, preserving what draws us to music in the first place. And anyone who does have the talent, training, and gear to capture quality live video has been able to put their abilities to good use, showing folks just how important that is. All in all, in an attempt to boil it down, here’s what I think will stick around after this period: the focus on video, both live and pre-recorded, has shown its worth, and I bet the fear of something like this happening again will linger, meaning folks will have more interest in seeing content delivered this way. The live stream itself, with the personality and variety it can afford, will remain appealing to artists and fans alike. Especially when contrasted with the grueling road life, I bet special pay-per-view or even free live concerts, acoustic shows, etc., will be more of a regular thing probably as special perks with album releases and such.
“Unfortunately, there’s the chance that labels and other entities on the industry side of music will be even less willing, or able, to invest in artists, putting even more of the strain directly on musicians, but hey, that’s the way it’s been going anyway (State Fair being a beloved and lucky exception, although I know they’re feeling the effects of all of this just as we are). The importance of social media for the modern artist has been deeply underscored through all of this. Everyone is coming away leaner and meaner, but in some ways this crisis has stripped everything down to what folks are always looking for from their favorite music: genuine art, a degree of personal interaction, and community. Be it through streams or merch or even just social media posts, I don’t think any of us will forget that.”
Jeff Ryan, drummer for Motorcade, Pleasant Grove and Baptist Generals
“I can only hope that our venues can continue after this unprecedented disaster. There’s a lot of ways you can support these venues like The AllGood Cafe, Three Links, Double Wide, Twilite Lounge, Kessler Theater, Dan’s Silverleaf and many more of our local establishments that are suffering right now due to Covid-19 though their GoFundMe links on their Facebook pages. But, as far as predictions on how this will turn out? I know one thing, our musical as well as our restaurant landscape will probably, unfortunately look a lot different. I know our community pretty well, and I know all of us artists, promoters, booking agents and club owners will come together for the greater good and try and keep this community rolling. I’d be willing, with any of the bands I play in to play benefits when they reopen to bring in people and help them build their businesses back, by any means necessary. I don’t rely solely on playing live for my personal income, as I do a number of things to make money, but I know our venue owners don’t have the same luxury as I do, and again, we’ll be willing to play benefits to help them in any way we can.”