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Thursday, April 18, 2024

As life becomes virtual, musicians turn to online streaming to perform

From empty arenas to couch concerts, we hear them play

Italian opera legend Andrea Bocelli performed at the heart of Milan on Easter this year — but it wasn’t your typical concert nor Sunday service. The world-renowned Duomo di Milano was completely empty, with only Bocelli’s camera crew and accompanying organist there to witness his songs. The YouTube video “Music for Hope” has garnered over 36 million views since its live stream on April 12, thanks to Bocelli’s angelic voice resonating against the strikingly vacant cathedral and still Italian cities. 

Although visibly strange, Bocelli’s performance isn’t so out-of-the-ordinary anymore. Given the shelter-in-place recommendations, large gatherings won’t be happening any time soon, ruling out live concerts for an indefinite period. Though a tragic realization for rave-baes and concert-goers across the globe, artists must compromise by opting to hold online “concerts” for fans to enjoy from home. 

There is no denying that a virtual streaming of a show pales in comparison to a live music performance. For anyone who’s attended a concert, you know how exciting it is to see an artist you like live, to bond with strangers over your shared appreciation of the new album and to see the raw version of your favorite song from (if you’re lucky) only a few feet away. Your laptop screen just doesn’t provide the same thrill. But it’s something. 

Several classical and opera musicians have joined Andrea Bocelli in letting their enchanting music echo throughout empty halls. The famous opera “Carmen” was performed at the Berlin State Opera and the Philadelphia Orchestra played at the Kimmel Center, both taking place on March 12. This New York Times article details these and other classical performances with expert analysis. 

But most artists haven’t been performing in audience-less arenas. Instead, they choose to perform from the comfort of their home, understandably so, holding livestreams or just posting videos of themselves singing. Many shows and tours have been postponed, with stars opting to join the common folk for once and stay put like the rest of us. 

Instagram, YouTube and Twitch are among some of the popular “venues” performers have graced over the past few weeks. Some simply start a live stream and start singing, while others promote their events as though they were real concerts. PARTYNEXTDOOR, for example, announced a live stream at the end of March ahead of his album release.

Artists are also getting creative with their performances, quarantine style. Diplo is going on a “Corona World Tour” with weekly performances on multiple platforms, including Corona Sabbath on Fridays and Coronanight Fever on Saturdays. Miley Cyrus is hosting what is possibly the first Instagram Live talk show called “Bright Minded,” a daily show featuring a spread of Hollywood guests. Though not limited to singing friends, many musicians have joined her on the show.

Some fans have used the virtual concert trend as a manipulation tactic — the hashtag #1DOnlineConcertStayAtHome was trending last week in efforts to get One Direction back together online for the sake of encouraging people to stay at home. With the anniversary of the band’s formation coming up in July, the idea isn’t so far-fetched. Clever of the Directioners, I must admit. 

A tragic loss for many was the postponement (or cancellation, if we’re being realistic) of one of the most popular music festivals in the world: Coachella. With arguably one of the best lineups to date, I was selfishly relieved that I’d have a chance to see the amazing artists another year when I can afford tickets to the legendary festival — we all need silver linings right now, right? In its place, Coachella released a free documentary on YouTube on the history of the 20-year-old desert festival. Not quite the same but interesting nonetheless. 

In an attempt to emulate the appeal of massive music festivals, Global Citizen partnered with Lady Gaga to create the Together At Home global broadcast on April 18, where singers, comedians and leading global health experts came together virtually to promote staying at home. Proceeds are being donated to healthcare workers, the World Health Organization and regional response organizations that have been working to stop the spread of the coronavirus. “Together at Home” is also a series of its own where big-name singers like John Legend, Hozier and Celine Dion perform in live-streams supported by Global Citizen. 

Finally, The California Aggie itself released videos for our last two Couch Concert events with Bomba Fried Rice and Negrete. Both high-energy bands offer student and local musicians in our beloved basement, and we would love it if you’d check out our contribution to the online concert sensation (notably, we’ve been posting videos of in-person performances for years). 

Whether it’s an unoccupied venue or a couch concert from home, the virtual performances of musicians have been a much-appreciated form of entertainment during quarantine. The adaptability of the human race has proven stronger than ever over the past few weeks, but without an end date, staying inside is becoming increasingly difficult for us all. I can only hope that the message to stay home from artists everywhere will carry as far as Andrea Bocelli’s voice did. 

Written by: Allie Bailey — arts@theaggie.org

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