With furloughs and layoffs of fulltime staff and freelance gigs disappearing, this month has been rough for a lot of people in advertising. For those still employed, one of the biggest challenges has been keeping your sanity when you are forced to work from home. But many people seem to be adapting.
Now it seems another industry is adapting, too. The music industry lives and dies by live performances. Since that is off the table for the foreseeable future, a lot of artists are in precarious positions.
Elton John is hosting a "Living Room Concert For America," this Sunday night on Fox.
This benefit concert will feature a bunch of legacy recording groups and musicians like Alicia Keys, Backstreet Boys, Billie Eilish, Billie Joe Armstrong, Mariah Carey, Tim McGraw and others.
According to Entertainment Weekly, "The hour-long concert will "pay tribute to the front line health professionals, first responders and local heroes who are putting their lives in harm’s way to help their neighbours and fight the spread of the virus," a representative for Fox said in a statement. The special will encourage its viewers to support the charitable organizations Feeding America and First Responders Children's Foundation."
And while it will be entertaining in a Black Mirror sort of way watching these artists play from their living rooms on TV, there are musicians who have already been doing this on Instagram and other social channels for a few weeks now. Australian singer and founder of The Church, Steve Kilbey is one such person who had an impromptu show in exchange for tips on PayPal, like a digital busker.
Miley Cyrus is doing something similar as are a host of other musicians, be they super famous and rich or otherwise. The common thread they share, and perhaps the most heartening, is that this new setting shows the resiliency of artists in the face of adversity. Here's hoping the new setting will prove to be intimate and grounded, providing fans with a different kind of experience that is no less memorable than seeing them live.
While this won't make up for lost revenue from cancelled tours, at least its a way to keep your face in the public eye. This is especially true for musicians who just released their albums. Some promoters are finding creative ways to make a memorable impression for artists.
Amid a shutdown that makes most promotion impossible, labels and managers are adapting swiftly — and under considerable pressure — to keep their artists in front of fans. The situation is especially urgent for acts that have new albums out, like country star Kelsea Ballerini, who released her third album, Kelsea, on March 20.
With traditional promotion, such as live TV appearances and touring, off the table, Ballerini's team had under a month to develop ideas. "Kelsea's main goal was to make sure she didn't lose that connection with her fans and that the release still felt personal," says Jason Owen, CEO of Sandbox Entertainment, the firm that manages Ballerini, Kacey Musgraves, Little Big Town and others. The night before the set's arrival, Ballerini hosted an event on Instagram Live that included remote appearances by album guests Kenny Chesney and Halsey, and her team sent flying drones across Tennessee to deliver copies of the album, sweatpants printed with song lyrics and handwritten notes.
"We only did 10," says Owen, "but it got really loud on social media."
If anything there's a potentially huge opportunity to reach an audience like never before, even with the creature comforts that are competing for our eyes and ears. The majority of the world is staying home right now.
The winners will be the record label executive,s, promoters and musicians who figure out how to reach an incredibly large and totally captive audience in a way that resonates beyond even the music itself.