During this current pandemic, many artists and bands have delivered online livestreamed gigs, which are free to watch for anyone who wants. Instagram and Facebook seem to be the main platforms which these music artists use to showcase their live sound, meaning that fans who have never seen them before finally have the opportunity, up close and personal and from the comfort of their own homes. During these livestreams, it has become a common theme for artists to raise money for certain causes. What has been interesting to observe is why this is only happening now, during a pandemic, and why it is not a common occurrence at any other gig.
One of the most significant fundraisers throughout this time has been Frank Turner‘s weekly livestreams. Each week, he has played a livestream gig where he performs one album of his from front to back. Just last week, he played his iconic Love, Ire & Song (2008), whilst raising money for The Joiners and raised around £11,000. Due to the impact of this livestream, one of Southampton’s greatest independent live venues has been saved from imminent closure. This week, he was raising money for The Railway Inn in Winchester, an independent venue which he has very close ties to considering he was raised in Winchester. He played songs from The First Three Years (2009) as thousands tuned in to watch and donate. Turner’s fundraising for independent venues is extremely relevant, and makes a lot of sense. Due to the pandemic, many independent companies and venues are under threat with the cancellation and postponing of all their shows in the new couple of months, and require this support from musicians like Turner to raise awareness of their situation and in turn promote donations to save their venue and, consequently, to save live music.
Lewis Watson has also been hosting Instagram live ‘festivals’, where he invites 7 musicians alongside himself to perform a 20-30 minute set. These have been in support of British Red Cross, and have succeeded in raising much awareness of this charity. But the question I have to ask, is why has it taken a global pandemic to promote and support charities through live music?
An important livestream to mention is the Global Citizen’s and WHO’s partnership in creating the “Together At Home” campaign for people to watch during lockdown. Numerous artists have featured, including All Time Low‘s Alex Gaskarth and Dermot Kennedy. The reason for these musicians performing through livestreams during this campaign is to raise awareness of the importance of staying at home and keeping safe during this time. Two powerful organisations combining with some of the most popular artists and bands right now is a very effective way for people to listen. It means individuals both old and young are exposed to the same important message: stay home.
It’s safe to say that these fundraisers and messages being delivered through livestreamed gigs are an extremely effective way for artists to raise awareness of how to keep safe at the moment, and thus a very effective way of potentially saving lives. However, it is interesting to see how this was sparked by a global pandemic. The amount of power which artists and bands hold has been truly demonstrated through this, but it begs the question: could this have been done before? Why wait for a dangerous pandemic before raising money and awareness of important causes? Let’s hope that once this pandemic clears up, artists and bands continue to use their powerful influence to raise money for charities and causes.