Music News: How is the pandemic permanently changing the music world?

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Beach Bunny perform a livestreamed concert at Lincoln Hall, July 2020.
Beach Bunny perform a livestreamed concert at Lincoln Hall in Chicago, July 2020. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)
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How is the pandemic permanently changing the music world?
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The coronavirus pandemic has changed the music world — in some ways that will change back, and in some ways that won't.

The future of music venues, of course, is highly uncertain. While they're closed, though, artists have been connecting with their fans online — and writing in Rolling Stone, Music Business Worldwide publisher Tim Ingham says that's one of the pandemic-era trends that's here to stay.

Not only will artists keep sharing performances and other content online, Ingham believes, they'll keep charging for it. While many videos, images, and other glimpses into artists' lives will continue to hit free social media, stars like Cardi B, Neil Young, and Melissa Etheridge are using subscription platforms to get paid for music and behind-the-scenes content. That's going to get easier, and better, as companies jostle to create streaming platforms tailored for music, including ticketed performances.

Artists aren't just selling virtual performances: they're selling physical merchandise, including recordings, directly to fans. That's not just your local indie band selling t-shirts on Bandcamp: it's also megastars like Taylor Swift, who sold no fewer than eight different deluxe versions of her new album folklore via her own webstore.

Overall, the pandemic has accelerated the music industry's trend toward artists doing it themselves: whether "it" means recording music, streaming sessions, or selling merch. With major labels' business models severely disrupted, and some big releases postponed, indie labels have seen a surge — sending releases up the charts like never before. Will major labels get their clout back when the crisis clears? It remains to be seen.


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