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  • Writer's pictureOrla Joyce

Is there a need for Live streamed shows in 2023?

2020s lockdowns brought with them a lot of changes to everyday life, many of which we still see today. But should we be leaving some of them in the past and try to get back to the way we were?

One thing that has held up in our “post-pandemic” world is the live streaming of concerts. Throughout the lockdowns, there was archived footage of festivals past being streamed across multiple platforms. Fans from all over the world could enjoy performances from the safety of their own home while also being a part of something. These shows were announced like a live show, with set times and lineups. Some bands such as Death cab for Cutie and All Time Low even organised concerts specifically to be live streamed to raise funds for their touring crew. There was something uniquely beautiful and unifying about watching these events with strangers from all over the world at such a lonely, uncertain time. Today in 2023 many aspects of life pre Covid-19 have returned, and there is the opportunity to go to concerts and festivals in person again. People can purchase tickets with confidence the show will most likely go on as planned. So what even is the point in streaming shows anymore? Those who want to go to the event can just go and get tickets.

On the 6th of March 2023 I saw Badflower perform in the House of Blues, Chicago…from my home 6,000km away with the aid of a concert streamed by Veeps. I got to join in the experience, excitement and joy that comes with watching live music with fellow music fans. The crowd in House of Blues provided an in house atmosphere and the live chat provided one for those at home. I am very privileged in that I am financially, physically and geographically in a position that allows me to see artists when they’re in this part of the world. These are three factors I’m going to deep dive into as well as a number of other contributing factors as to why live streamed concerts are still commonplace. Accessibility issues were brought to the forefront at this time, all of a sudden simple things such as entering shops or visiting loved ones became massive ordeals. It shone a light on the struggles facing those who had to deal with these hurdles even before the pandemic.

First off I would like to address the financial aspect of concerts. In this day and age, with this economic climate money seems to be going out faster than it’s coming in. The cost of living crisis is impacting people on a number of levels before luxuries such as live events like concerts or festivals can even be considered. These financial woes impact everyone in the industry, the cost to put on a tour goes up so do the tickets for the said tour. Usually, if a music fan couldn’t get a ticket to the event that would be the end of the line. Until of course the inevitable shaky videos and blurry photos arrived online shortly after the show was finished. However, many artists today now live stream at least one night of their tour. The tickets to the official live stream tend to cost a fraction of the price. I paid $10 to watch the Badflower live stream which is (currently) the equivalent of £8.50 or €9.50. This opens up a huge door of accessibility to those who can’t afford the costs that come with attending a show. At the end of the day the cost of attending festivals and concerts doesn’t stop at the ticket price, which are constantly on the rise. Travel, food, drink and potential accommodation must also be budgeted for. All of a sudden the exclusion as a whole is encroaching on the 100 mark. Live streams allow people to support artists they enjoy while not taking financial risks. Along with the live stream is usually a live chat so there is still that community element that comes with seeing a show in person.

Factor number two to be addressed is the physical privilege and accessibility issues. Many people miss out on live experiences due to accessibility issues. Live shows are a nice alternative when combatting accessibility issues but they are in no way a solution. Venues having no wheelchair access, lack of secure seating areas, and poor information at the ticket buying stage are all roadblocks for people with a disability. Not to mention the invisible disabilities that can make concerts a very difficult experience whether that’s due to pain or mental illnesses. Anxiety and Agoraphobia have been on the rise since lockdowns and could leave a person to make a decision to either miss out or put themselves in a potentially uncomfortable position. These professional live streams offer a safe option that constantly has a clear view of the stage from multiple angles! It’s a nice way to still feel part of the community while also feeling safe. The watcher can also pause the show at any time to take a break for whatever reason and come back to it without sacrificing their view or missing their favourite song.

The final major factor I feel live streams tackle is the geographical issue. When musicians go on tour there are a handful of cities and countries that are almost guaranteed a show. Most people aren’t so lucky to be in one of the cities. The geographical issue includes a combination of accessibility and financial issues. A person can be in a position to afford it but the transport/accommodation/venue may not be able to facilitate a disability. Then of course there is the time required to go to the event, if someone is working acquiring enough time off can be tricky. Where flights are involved it could take at least two full days in a row. It is always better to have a travel companion, especially when visiting somewhere new but this may not always be possible. Going to show on your own can be fun but when you have to travel further afield, stay overnight and travel home alone it can be a daunting experience. There is a geographical hindrance to live streamed shows as well of course, with the issue of time zones. Taking the Badflower show in Chicago for example 5:30 pm PST meant a 1:30 am GMT kick off time. However many facilitators of live streamed shows allow access to the show for up to 3 days. It may mean foregoing watching it live as it happens but it does mean being able to sleep soundly.

I personally would love to see live streamed shows become more of a staple of touring artists where possible. I personally feel there are benefits to both fans and musicians. Aside from the alive factors live shoes are a great way for younger music fans to put an apprehensive guardian’s mind at rest. It's an opportunity to introduce them to something that means a lot to them and show the type of environment surrounding the shows. It may even create something that could be shared together going forward. And unlike attending live shows it is not one person per ticket. One purchase gives you access to the show. A patron could invite a group of people over to watch it and make a whole evening of it to share the moment. From a band's perspective it's a great way to access new fans, and an easier sell to invite someone to a watch party than a concert. Similarly, people who may not be invested enough to go to a live show in person may test the waters by watching a live streamed show to get a feel for how the artists are as performers.

During the Badflower set the band addresses those watching at home. They crack jokes and include those behind the screen in the performance. They are appreciative of the at home fans just as much as those physically present in the venue. Broadcasting concerts and festivals is not a new concept and they are more than likely here to stay for the foreseeable. But the lockdowns really brought live streaming to the forefront. It also allows you to support your favourite artists in a new way. Some bands even did video calls with fans as a stand in for in person meet and greets, or special downloadable tickets with unique merchandise. But what do you think? Are live streamed concerts and festivals something here to stay and be improved upon? Or were we fine with videos taken by concertgoers and tv broadcasters where you can have a chat with others in the comments section?

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