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It’s no secret that every industry has been disrupted in some way by the pandemic. When large industries struggle, it trickles down to every facet that makes up that entire market. Between the pandemic and TikTok, the music industry has been changed forever. It caused a significant shift in music careers and ticketing on a large scale, but what about up-and-coming artists?

What about the often unnamed production teams? 

Collaboration is Key

One of the most crucial parts of building up an artist, or being an artist in general, is collaboration. Without collaboration, some of today’s biggest stars would still be at square one. The pandemic completely changed how society collaborated. 

Contextualizing the impact of this shift in music creators’ patterns of collaboration, as well as how musicians adapted their use of the available technologies, offers a peek into artists’ resilience and the importance of musical collaboration.

Rehearing studios and music venues were a no-go zone during widespread social distancing. Alternative approaches to music-making that utilize technologies for remote musical interactions, like Zoom and social media, bridged this gap. Musical collaboration went from messing around in the studio to scheduling video meetings to fine-tune and discuss ideas. 

Even beyond the musicians, production teams rely heavily on collaboration for several reasons within their projects. Every facet of the entertainment industry rests upon partnership. Without this, it was even more challenging for teams to scramble together to start thinking of virtual strategies for musicians. Without wide-scale planning, mistakes slip through the cracks causing major disasters. Look at the Astro World tragedy. Many incidents can be attributed to poor planning. 

Industry Chaos 

Millions, potentially even billions of dollars, have been lost, and thousands of careers halted. 

A July report by the International Dance Music Summit on the impact of the pandemic on the international dance music industry said it saw a 54% decline in value in 2020, down to 3.6 billion dollars. A recent Nashville Chamber of Commerce report showed how much the pandemic halted the music city’s industry. A staggering 74% of musicians said they had experienced unemployment since March 2020 and saw their annual income plunge by $10,000 to below $36,000 a year. The city’s plethora of famous music venues also lost a whopping 72% of their revenue, costing the industry $17 million in lost wages and causing a $24 million hit to the city’s GDP.

Light at the End of the Tunnel

A report from Rolling Stone reveals that lockdown caused more independent artists to create all by themselves. 

Each album release is risky regardless of your level as an artist. During the pandemic, dozens of artists had decided that the odds of a successful release were not in their favor, which caused many artists to push back projects they’d spent months working on. 

However, data from the more powerful digital distribution platforms suggest that, the smaller artists have been creating like never before, despite having trouble getting their music out on major platforms. 

Rolling Stone notes that TuneCore, Vydia, CD Baby, Soundrop, United Masters, and Ditto all push music to streaming services for a fee. This helps musicians without a label or artists who want to own their work. These platforms reported noticeable activity spikes since many Americans had been stuck indoors. 

While these artists are coming across more resources to aid them in getting their work out without a label, TikTok is bolstering their growth more than ever. Songs that trend on TikTok’s platform usually chart on the Billboard 100 or Spotify Viral 50. A recent study conducted for TikTok by the music-analytics company MRC Data found that 67% of the app’s users are more likely to seek out songs on music-streaming services after hearing them on TikTok. 

Think of Lil Nas X’s rapid rise to stardom. He went from dropping out of college and  living in his sister’s home to dropping the most successful song of all time, the country-rap crossover “Old Town Road.” Besides the pure tenacity of the artist, this success can be credited to the track becoming an early TikTok viral trend picked up by millions of users.

Pandemic has Revealed Industry Shortcomings

Lockdowns and industry shifts during the pandemic also revealed faulty practices in the music business that could use a revamp. Venues have been redesigned to ensure safety attendees, especially disabled folks that previously didn’t have a great experience at inaccessible arenas. 

According to psychological research firm Frontiers, since remote work has had such a detrimental impact on musicians’ livelihood and practice, new forms of social practices have begun to emerge. Increased use of elongated spaces and silences to facilitate remote music-making sessions, new types of large-scale distributed music-making, and global, societal dialogues about music have been revamped. Additionally, lags due to network saturation also created new opportunities to embrace the unexpected. These extreme circumstances have pushed musicians to listen more attentively to each other while playing, a skill fundamental to music improvisation. 

Lockdown has also introduced new ways to have a collective experience like global forums and projects for a more significant cause. The global pandemic has motivated new collaborative music-making strategies, with emergent new forms of social creativity.

It would take months to cover the pandemic’s impact on the music industry. So many parts of the business have fundamentally changed, some for the worse but a lot for the better. While many musicians are still picking up the pieces lost during the pandemic, the industry is making changes for the better. And if Beyoncé’s new RENAISSANCE release indicates where the music industry is heading, it’s to a good place. 

Photo by Soundtrap on Unsplash