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Music Business Will Hit a New Note

Dominik Hyppolite on piano and Alec Anand on guitar share a lighter moment during rehearsal

01/05/2021

The business of music has been devastated by the coronavirus pandemic, especially the concert business. Musicians stay home, venues shutter, fans mourn and a wide array of businesses tied to live music shares the pain.

But even when the pandemic is over and events can be safely held again, concert-going is likely to be a different experience, says Prof. Alan Williams, coordinator of UML’s Music Business program.  

Headliners’ arena or football stadium blockbuster world tours may not return for a while, he predicts. 

“Most likely, there will be demand and the possibility of safe public gathering before the industry is able to reconstitute itself,” says Williams. “This will likely lead to some creative ideas for performers to reach their audiences, with new ways of framing a concert, new possibilities for venues, probably limited ability for musicians to travel with large numbers of people, equipment and staging.”

The return of live music will favor the agile, at least in the near-term, he says.

“Those who can perform mean and lean will be able to jump in their vehicle, and even if they play for change on the corner, will probably be able to earn a decent living. The larger spectacles that have become common to live performance will return, but not quickly. It takes time to book a tour. It takes significant capital to reserve concert halls, plane tickets and hotel rooms,” he says. And managing tour logistics requires a depth of specialization skills that will be in short supply when major promotion companies have shuttered or laid off large portions of their staff, he says.

However, all the upheaval may ultimately lead to better experiences, for both audiences and performers.

“It might be the breath of fresh air we figuratively and literally need,” Williams says.