Historically, musicians have been cautious to challenge the traditional concert model. After all, this became their main source of income as revenue from album sales evaporated.
However, the COVID-19 pandemic pushed the music industry to rethink performances altogether and experiment seriously with virtual models instead. Pandemic restrictions on in-person gatherings forced artists to turn to alternative methods to connect with fans.
But are these virtual shows here to stay? Are we going to continue to see virtual performances long after the pandemic has subsided, or will they be abandoned once large, in-person gatherings are safe again?
Virtual Experiences Were Already in the Works Before the Pandemic
To many of us, it seems like virtual concerts were born out of necessity during the pandemic. And sure, they’ve seen an unprecedented boost in support and profitability over the last year, as the live music industry sits on hold. While that’s true, virtual shows were already in the works before COVID-19 hit.
Artists like Justin Bieber, Halsey, and Yungblud have turned to Moment House for their virtual experiences. And while Moment House certainly isn’t the only platform out there, it’s backed by top-tier investors like Scooter Braun, Troy Carter, and Jared Leto.
The thing is, Moment House was already here before the pandemic. Much of the company’s funding came after the onset of COVID-19. But it was actually founded in late 2019 — and they had already established a 10-year product vision.
A New Kind of Performance
In a statement, company co-founder and CEO Arjun Mehta said that the company’s technology wasn’t a response to the pandemic at all. Instead, it’s meant to be its own new category of performance.
“Moment House was founded last year with the vision of creating a new unit of a Moment — an exclusive ticketed digital live experience for core fans,” said Mehta.
“The product isn’t a reaction to COVID. There is more to Moment House than just live streaming. We’re taking a first-principles approach to crafting the perfect experience for fans,” he continued. “We do that by working backward from the feeling of being a part of something special, no matter where you are in the world.”
“Moment House is empowering artists to deliver digital experiences that feel authentic and compelling,” added Jared Leto, who invested in the technology. “I was drawn to the unique design-driven approach because that’s what is needed to create a new category here.”
Musicians using Moment House set their own ticket prices, and they pocket 100 percent of the revenue. The company charges fans an additional 10 percent service fee to cover operating costs.
Other Virtual Experiences We’ve Seen This Year
Of course, Moment House’s style of virtual experience isn’t the only one out there that artists have been experimenting with.
Some artists have experimented with the setup of drive-in movies, like The Avett Brothers. They pulled off a big drive-in show at the Charlotte Motor Speedway. The Nascar track is equipped with a massive movie screen. It’s also clearly large enough to pack in plenty of cars.
Meanwhile, Travis Scott opted for a much different experience through the popular video game, Fortnite. It was touted as an “other-worldly experience” that was built from the ground up within the game. It gave fans a way to hang out with friends at a concert — virtually, of course, from the comfort of their own homes.
Even lesser-known and local musicians are testing the virtual waters. They’re playing live gigs from home and hosting a Facebook Watch Party or streaming live on Instagram. These intimate experiences are a sort-of “virtual busking,” where they ask for voluntary donations.
So, while musicians use these varied virtual experiences to stay in front of people and earn a living amid COVID restrictions, will they continue once we’re past the pandemic?
Personally, I believe so. We may not see as many artists asking for voluntary donations on Facebook, but the larger-scale virtual experiences might be here to stay. The pandemic may have certainly helped develop an interest in them. However, we’re seeing how beneficial they can be for both artists and fans across the globe.