How to Host Live Music Safely Despite COVID-19
Concerts and live music festivals have been a tradition for communities. Live music helps bring people together and bond – and we can’t let that disappear during this pandemic. Studies have shown that concertgoers feel that music brings more emotion and a sense of belonging than most other community events. According to one study by Ticketmaster, respondents feel music identifies them more as a person than their hometown, political beliefs, race, or religion.
Keeping live music “alive” during this pandemic is important for concertgoers, the community, employers, and the performers. It’s up to you to do your part by hosting live music events safely in your community. Our team of event professionals have put together a list of some of the best ways to put on live events during COVID-19.
Host Live Drive-In Concerts
Like the drive-in movies theaters that were popular in the 1950s and into the 80’s, drive-in concerts are growing in popularity due to COVID-19. Drive-in concerts allow concertgoers to enjoy their favorite performer’s talents but in a safe and responsible way. While the logistics can be quite extensive and the weather can be a risk, it’s worth it in the end to bring in the crowds to enjoy the thrill of live music in your community. Many top musical artists like For King & Country, Blake Shelton, The Avett Brothers, and Brad Paisley are taking advantage of these unique performance opportunities.
Instead of a seat, your ticket secures you a parking spot. Think of it as general admission since most drive-in concert setups are first-come, first-serve parking spots. Parking spots are distanced between vehicles for maximum social distancing yet allowing concertgoers the opportunity to bring chairs and sit just outside their vehicles. Depending on location, many venues allow only standard size vehicles (no oversized trucks and SUVs) and offer LED screens to enhance the viewing experience.
Host Live Streaming Concerts
Live streaming a concert is the perfect way for you to show support for your community during these unique times. So many people are feeling safer and more comfortable attending live events virtually in the comfort of their own home. Who would have thought that we were ever going to be enjoying live music from our couch in 2021?! Not only do live music lovers appreciate the opportunity to watch concerts via live streaming, but it’s also a huge help to musicians as they navigate through these unchartered waters. Musicians across the world weren’t expecting to cancel tours, miss all of their in-person meet-and-greets, or feel so disconnected from their fans because of a pandemic. With the help of professional AV providers, live streaming virtual concerts are made easier at the high quality level so many expect from professional musicians.
If you’re willing to think outside the box, hybrid concerts are a definite possibility to incorporate live music in your community on a different level. Many are saying that 2021 is the year for all things hybrid — and hybrid concerts are no exception. Bring your reduced size live audience together with an unlimited number of virtual concertgoers online! It’s a win-win.
Implement Extra Safety Precautions and Reduced Attendance
Live music venues across the United States are looking to health and government officials for guidance on how to safely and effectively set up their venues for live performances. Reducing capacity for live music venues is one of the first action items in most communities. Many health officials are recommending only allowing 50% capacity — and some communities are asking for even less to keep the risk even lower. Pod seating is the most common setup for in-person concerts right now. This is where attendees purchase their tickets together ahead of time and there are empty seats within the aisles and between aisles to keep attendees distanced during the show.
Aside from lowering the number of concertgoers, other safety precautions are natural for live music venues to put into place. Some of these precautions include requiring masks for all attendees, temperature checks at the entrances, ticketless entry, a clear bag policy to eliminate the need to handle bags during the security check-in process, plexiglass barriers, cashless transactions at merchandise and concession stands, and sanitizing stations in various areas of the venue.
Outdoor live music venues are having a lot of success as open air venues reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, but indoor music venues are working hard to make events possible. In Cedar Rapids, Iowa, the Alliant Energy Powerhouse (formerly known as the US Cellular Center) hosted one of the first arena shows in the United States in September 2020. Unfortunately, with the cost of added safety precautions and reduced ticket sales because of the reduced attendance, sometimes hosting a concert live isn’t a viable option in some markets.
Are “Bubble” Concerts The Next New Thing in Live Music?
Recently, you may have seen news headlines featuring the new live music concept of “space bubbles.” This brings social distancing to a whole new level as the band called The Flaming Lips performed with their fans standing in inflatable, transparent bubbles. With over 100 bubbles filling the theatre in a 10×10 grid, each bubble held up to three people and offered bottled water as well as signs to notify ushers that they needed to exit the bubble to use the restroom or get fresh air circulating in the bubble. The band offered specific instructions for concert goers prior to the live performance via email, signage on-site, and a short video tutorial on social media. Sounds creative, right?
The concert has been talked about across the world, and the jury is still out about how effective the bubbles were in reducing the risk of COVID-19 and other illnesses. Isn’t it nice to think there are other possible alternatives to safely attend a live music event?
If You Have To, Just Cancel
While it isn’t ideal and no one wants to say it out loud, sometimes you just need to cancel your scheduled concert. Whether your performer is showing symptoms, your community is locked down, the costs are too high to provide the proper safety procedures, or for any other reason that could come up, the health of your attendees is what’s most important. It’s okay to cancel. Many concerts, festivals, and other live music performances are being cancelled because of COVID-19, including Broadway shows, Coachella, and many more. There will be a day in the future that we are able to go back to “normal” 100% live concerts without the intense safety precautions that are necessary in this pandemic. We all just need to give grace and be accepting that sometimes it’s simply not possible to be safe and have the show still go on.
When Will Concerts Return To “Normal?”
The question that everyone wants to know is: when will live music return to normal in our communities? We are one year into a global pandemic and there is absolutely no denying that the live music industry’s landscape has been changed forever. There is no definitive answer to this question, but as live music industry leaders continue to work towards the goal of being in-person on stage, we will adapt as we can. With the vaccine giving the world hope that live music will return to normal in the later half of 2021, we will continue to rely on live music to bring us together in virtually any way possible.
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