Live shows: will music become passion and sweat again or will it stay liquid and virtual?
The time we are living through is a time that has allowed us to pause and ponder about what has happened so far. The pandemic has for sure amplified our ideas, set them up and gave them a logic or it might have just made them confused again. Even though the Prime Minister’s “mantra” is that of the worst psychotherapist around (“we have a way to think about ourselves, our life… to stop. To get out of the frenzy of our daily lives and change our habits”) this is something that has happened for real and will again.
This continuously repeated and long awaited “think about yourself” is not a consequence of overcoming capitalism and is not shared by everyone. This is because the capitalist process cannot be a failure and it cannot just halt on its tracks. This is happening as the country as well as others have (almost) stopped because of the virus. Many comrades as well as authors have tried to analyse this situation asking themselves, in regards to a continuity in the world of social struggles, what has changed and what will come after this (https://www.carmillaonline.com/2020/03/04/sullepidemia-delle-emergenze-e-sulla-catastrofe-come-campo-del-possibile/ and for further in-depths looks about the epidemic https://macerie.org/index.php/2020/03/16/appunti-sullepidemia-in-corso/).
When it comes to how people analyse this new and extreme situation of social control, it seems the development of the web and new technologies that was already underway before the massive spread of Covid-19 have a fundamental role to play. We started from the two last Decreti Sicurezza (Security Legislation TN) that went so far as to incentivise local municipalities to install cameras on the corners of the streets to the initial phases of discussion for a faster and more complex network: 5G.
Even if 5G is unknown territory for us that don’t know much about the matter, the network is something we use every day and during these days where we are forced to stay indoors we saw massive increase in its use.
If before this we all lived with our faces buried in the screen of a smartphone or a pc and the pandemic has enhanced this situation. People use it in order not to get bored or to keep social interactions alive with all those you could hug and look in the eye. Read here.
If the use of technology has increased in our private sphere, it has also begun to be used to mitigate the crisis of one of the most productive sectors that was hit since the beginning of the pandemic: showbusiness. Covid-19 has decimated a sector that was made up of people with precarious jobs and at the same time it has created an economic hole of notable proportions at any level of the chain of production. Starting from the porter that does not work, the artist that does not perform, small venues shutting down continuing up to the CEO of the multinational that has seen its income halt.
It seems that the virus has showed the limits of a reality that was already rotten and that existed thanks to the efforts of the people that put all they had in this field, those that got all the glory of a couple of pats on the back and a tiny salary to survive. Here is where the development of technology and the internet come into play. Anna Zò, during the first days of the actual pandemic, published an article in which she gave indication on how we can create business even while inside one’s home. This could be done by increasing the use of streaming platforms which are well established, amongst the youth especially, but also with new frontiers like virtual reality.
According to the MusiTech – Music Innovation Hub manager
the challenge of today is in thinking about how to develop and experience that can not only allow to transpose a live set into a digital experience but also how to create a completely new type of experience that has been thought for digital fruition from the very beginning. To cite some applications, we can think of cross reality (XR) or of the 3Dsound technology that combined with a growing number of and easy to access home devices, such as visors, headsets and microphones) allow to create real and fully immersive experiences wherever one is.
This is a most abhorrent scenario. It is not an impossible task as seen, even if only for one song, during the last X-factor Gianna Nannini and Tha Supreme virtual exhibitions. Vodafone, the official partner of X-Factor, tested this thanks to the development of a 5G network in partnership with the program.
If, however, up until now it seems that the “virtual music” or “chamber music 2.0” has only had entertainment business giants in partnership with telecommunications giants things might change. An alarmin signal comes from the lower-mid level music business industry with, for example, the Cro-Mags and St. Patricks Day Dropkick Murphy’s streaming concerts.
The future trend then might not just jailed rapper freestyles, one man bands home performances or, a techno dj set. Instead we might be faced with the reality watching live performances of musicians at a safety distance from one another in empty venues. The ones that would profit from this would most certainly be head of industries with only a few exploited workers behind the scene. We might be faced with a situation where the concerts might lose what made them what they are: the passion, sweat and, collective euphoria of being able to watch a unique event.
In the midst of all this new scenario we should ask ourselves, incorporating the wider prospect of social struggles, on how we might oppose this. Most of all, we should consider how the dynamics of the already mutated DIY music world might change in the future. That which we have to understand is how to fight back against the fruition of web concerts by making use of the relationships that characterised us in the past. We should amplify our way to handle concerts not only from the audience point of view but also by rethinking all the organisational processes, even only the mental ones, that are behind setting up events. A return to origin in the places that will probably organise events regardless of the restrictions put in place as well as a scaling down of all the unnecessary frills that we demanded so far. This is because music is not just music on its own. It is connections, tangible human relationships and without struggles and breaking away from society music remains liquid, virtual and navel-gazing. Today more than ever.
Article by Fabrizio Mastello
Translation by Federico