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The new decade has thrown a lot of things into disarray, but how is the music world faring?
Published: 25/05/2020  Author: Anthony Shih 
 Photos: @samcsch
Photo: Collage courtesy of @samcsch.
2020, The Year Gone Completely Wrong

Not too long ago, the idea of living in the year 2020 was something many of us looked forward to. It is an even number, represents perfect vision or judgement, I mean, the number just sounds cool… Except the reality has been a disaster. Fast forward a few months into the year, and everyone is pleading for it to end as soon as possible. Meanwhile, over in the music world, there are a lot of things going on that have brought both pleasant surprises and utter disappointments. Everything has been unprecedented. All the plans people had have been altered, with some even being canceled. Let us look at some of the outcomes and effects this situation has led to.

A Different Approach to Album Releases

Most music that had already been planned to be released is still releasing as intended, but some albums are being delayed, for reasons relating to the COVID-19 pandemic. Although, how it is being released has been a little bit different for how some fans are accustomed to receiving new music. Pop-rock band HAIM are delaying their album, Women in Music Pt. III, (originally planned for release in April) due to the outbreak, but have been keeping their fans engaged by releasing more singles in the past few weeks, in the lead up to their new June release date. Pop-punk band All Time Low gradually released six songs, before ultimately releasing their 15-track album, Wake Up, Sunshine. Paramore front-woman Hayley Williams released two separate EPs, each consisting of five tracks, before releasing her debut solo album, Petals For Armor, with a final five tracks making up the concluding part of the album. HAIM and All Time Low fans did not seem to have too much of a problem with their album rollouts, but Williams’ album rollout caused quite a stir. The main criticism was because people felt the body of the album was being released well before the actual full LP release date. Williams’s unique release process did give fans some time to think about each song before moving on to the next one. The point here is that some artists now are willing to slowly release multiple tracks from an album beforehand, instead of the conventional way of releasing two or three singles and then releasing the rest of the album. After all, there is no rush to go on tour right now, so they may as well give more songs the spotlight. Perhaps we may see more album rollouts like this in the future.
Photo: Collage courtesy of @samcsch.
Artists Are Still Engaged with Their Fans

The lack of touring, or any public events for that matter, feels very strange for all of us. A lot of people are still confused about what is going on and how to find ways to keep themselves busy while in isolation. For artists, they are suddenly at home rather than on tour promoting their music. Some have gone completely silent, and have only released a public statement regarding postponing or canceling shows. Others have been more engaging with their fans, and have found ways to interact and entertain from home. EDM artist Zedd and blink-182 bassist Mark Hoppus are doing so by streaming video games and doing mini Q&A’s. Linkin Park’s Mike Shinoda has been making different forms of art with his fans for fun. Hayley Williams is (at the time of writing) preparing a mini virtual concert for her fans that had plans to go see her on tour, and has been sharing clips of herself playing instruments and singing. Artists have also been more active on social media, interacting with fans, which may be a byproduct of having more free time. Some artists have even decided to make special merch at this time to bring joy to their fans, as well as sometimes donating some proceeds to relevant response funds. Social media is a mixed bag, but it feels like the only way to connect with other people at the moment - and it shows that artists are still thinking about their fans. There have already been mini-concerts and festivals held virtually to help raise money for charities and hospitals, as well as giving people something to look forward to. While nothing compares to a live experience, it is nice to know that the music world is still active in some ways.

Financial Hardships for Everyone

The world is expecting this pandemic to continue for months to come, and the impact it has on the music industry has already been, and will continue to be, problematic. For starters, no concerts mean no-one involved with live shows in any way are making money. That includes touring crew members, venue staff, and ticket sellers. Live music and touring photographers are indirectly affected by this as well. Some people have found different ways to gather financial support, but the future remains unclear and many people wonder how long this will be sustainable for. Refunding tickets has also been a large headache for everybody. Large ticket retailers are losing money, as well as being responsible for dealing with any refunds and credit for the countless events due to take place this year. Given the bleak truth that no one knows when life will actually return to normal, customers are outraged and most demand immediate refunds. That has been an ongoing issue since the pandemic started, and continues to be a problem in other sectors too (like hotels and flights). Most artists are not canceling their shows, and instead are choosing to postpone them. A lot of ticket retailers are not willing to give full refunds if a show is not considered “canceled”. The problem is that the likelihood of live shows resuming are sometime in 2021 and many are uncertain if they will even be able to attend a show that will not happen for another year. The world is in a desperate spot, where money is tight for a lot of people, but companies are holding on to their money because they are struggling too. It is an ongoing battle that could eventually lead to legal action against these companies if the situation continues.
Photo: Collage courtesy of @samcsch.
The (Uncertain) Future for Music

No one knows when life will return to normal. The headlines for COVID-19 are seamlessly changing by the hour and emotions are all over the place. Live events are unlikely to happen until 2021, and a lot of new music could be delayed as well. Any new music recordings are likely to be done at home for now until social gathering is deemed safe enough for artists to be able to get together and record in a studio. Given the fact that most artists would much rather record in a professional studio instead of a home studio, we could see less new music released in the upcoming months. Not only are big named artists affected, but small local bands are significantly affected as well, because they need to be releasing new songs in order to make a name for themselves, and that opportunity is being put on hold indefinitely. The entire world is put on hold for now and all we can do is keep safe, (try) and stay healthy and wait it out. Until then, support music in any way possible, whether that be streaming, buying merch, or simply sharing songs, because there isn’t a day that music won’t be there for you.



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