Dance music's positive response to COVID19
Wednesday, April 8, 2020
As with everyone in our global community, Trackhunter HQ are utterly devastated by how the Coronavirus Pandemic has laid waste to the global arts community. The underground and dance community has been decimated with record shops, nightclubs and bars all closed down within a matter of weeks. With that it’s also had the longer term negative impact of threatening just about every dance music festival over the summer months as many will no doubt follow major sporting events like The Olympics and Wimbledon and go to the wall. The arts and entertainment world also have the shared pain that it's not just the performers who have suffered badly, but also an army of supporting roles that now find themselves seeking aid from their governments.
Within dance music the impact of COVID19 will be felt by record labels who will be wondering whether to hold back new physical releases now that record shops have closed. Whilst many have established online presences, there will be those who have been caught out by the events of recent weeks. The premier league of DJs can take the hit of a few months at home to work on mixes and new productions but for the majority of DJs and producers they will be hugely concerned that their revenue streams have been strangled and may not start again until the Autumn. There is the longer term anxiety that this disruption could last for some years as we see further spikes in infection.
The dance music community is resourceful and strong
There is no doubt however, that this community is resourceful and whilst it may not have faced a situation like this in its history, it has come through some incredibly testing times. The US Disco and early 1980’s club scene knows this all too well through the homophobic victimisation of clubbers, the Disco Sucks campaign and ultimately the Aids pandemic of which first nightmarish stories came out in 1981. Whilst there have been other crises such as the Criminal Justice Bill, nothing comes close to what we are living through today. Thankfully in 2020 we will have the Worldwide Web and that has allowed a mass of artists to stay in contact with their followers with live DJs, sets performances and updates. This is hopefully only the start of things to come.
Support for artists
Platforms such as Bandcamp and Mixcloud have shown generosity to the artists who ultimately have helped make these platforms the success they are. Bandcamp gave their cut of any sales to artists on March the 20th and evidence was clear for anyone to see how much music lovers wanted to help artists. Just a few seconds on the home page were enough to witness the carousel of latest purchases go whizzing by at high speed as a testament to the sheer amount of money being given over directly to the artists. Hopefully Bandcamp will follow this up with more Friday sessions to help support artists around the world.
On the same day Bandcamp waived artist fees, Mixcloud announced that they wanted to; “do something purposeful in the collective worldwide effort to help the creative community keep their heads above water”. As part of that they have waived their SELECT revenue share for the next 3 calendar months, giving SELECT Channel creators 100% of the income after the underlying artists and songwriters have been paid. This is despite it being a challenging time for the likes of Mixcloud who have worked hard balancing the act of a free platform and raising revenue.
Raising funds for great causes
Beatport hosted an impressive live event called ReConnect that brought well known 33 DJs across multiple continents together in their living rooms and studios over the course of 24 hours to raise funds for various COVID19 non profit organisations. The likes of Nina Kravitz, Todd Terry and Carl Craig lined up to entertain the clubbing masses who find themselves at a loose end with all the clubs in shutdown. Beatport CEO Robb McDaniels said in a statement. "With so many of us sheltered in our homes, wanting to stay connected to the people and music that plays such a positive role in our lives, Beatport and the passionate DJ community we work with on a daily basis feel compelled to deliver a unique music experience directly into homes across the world." DJs have helped where they can and another example of this was my own online radio station Purple Radio who ran a 60 hour live radio DJ marathon in aid of frontline NHS staff. As an amatuer collective many of us realised we were limited with what we could do to help show love and support to these hard working heroes, who are putting their own lives on the line to save lives. The response was incredible as almost £9,000 was raised for this most worthy of causes right now.
Boiler Room were already native to the concept of DJing remotely from living rooms and bedrooms as well as nightclubs. They have launched a new series of streaming from isolation where artists play direct from their own homes and private spaces. The aim of the campaign is to raise funds for a variety of charities with the latest one being the Global Foodbanking Network. As Boiler Room succinctly highlights: “Coronavirus has exposed the fragility of underground and independent music. Artists, labels, record shops, festivals and other creative small businesses are at great threat. Now more than ever, we need to find ways to support each other and the most vulnerable around us.” You can donate on their Facebook event page via this link:
The reaction from one of the world’s clubbing hotspots has been to launch the ‘United We Stream’ which has been set up to stream DJ sets from various clubs several days a week. Supporters can help save Berlin’s club culture and donate to the clubs via their fundraising platform. The site stipulates that ‘clubs and live music venues based in Berlin and with an audience capacity of no more than 1,500 guests can apply for the fund.’ All applications to the fund are assessed by a committee to make sure that they are correct and legitimate. Not only will the site stream DJ sets but also live performances.
The show must go on
Despite everything going on right now there is no doubt that whatever form of music you love, we are all part of a wider community and that with that unity comes strength, kindness and always creativity. Artists will still produce music, and we may see new scenes and sounds emerge with so many busy producers and DJs taking more time to capture their thoughts and put them down as a new track. With modern web technology it is easier than ever to share DJ sets live or pre-recorded and to communicate with each other to share it all further afield. We have to remember that a lot of people in the arts are taking a battering right now and that we do what we can to support them. This means buying music online, ideally from a range of platforms and not forgetting the small independent retailers and labels who will be most hard hit. We can donate to funds to support artists, charities and health care workers. Remember that whilst we’re in lockdown, for those fortunate to have some kind of disposable income that you may have a few spare coins that you can use to help and if that means buying a few WAVs or some vinyl from a retailer or direct from the artist, it all helps keep a few things afloat until we all can come back together under one House Nation Find quality music first with Trackhunter