Roar writer Natalia Vasnier on the future of concerts and alternatives that have been tested in the last year.

Wouldn’t it be nice to attend concerts and live events once again?

As 2021 kicks its way in, opening music venues once again after the tragic year of 2020 seems like something improbable as the virus continues to infect many, affecting people negatively in every aspect. Therefore, the entertainment industry has had to find new ways of adapting their work in Covid-19 safe environments. Thousands of shows all over the world have been cancelled due to the pandemic, and millions of dollars have been lost in revenue. Nonetheless, there are some alternatives that have been tested over the last months to allow concerts to take place again.

Social distancing concerts

Last December in Barcelona, Spain, Barcelona’s Infectious Diseases Foundation in partnership with the Primavera Sound music festival conducted a medical study. The aim was to evaluate the effectiveness of a same-day Covid-19 testing on more than a thousand people before they attended a test concert without social distancing. As a result of the experiment, none of the attendees were infected. Scientist concluded that using antigen tests is an efficient strategy to allow concerts during the pandemic.

Similar tests have taken place in Germany, with 1400 volunteers who were pre-tested, had their temperatures taken, used the Covid-19 app tracker and wore masks. They had to experiment with several scenarios that might happen at concerts to make the trials as realistic as possible. After the test, specialists devised a few rules in order to hold a safe concert: allowing only seated admissions in partially filled arenas while observing precautions such as wearing masks, having proper ventilation, and increasing the required admission points to avoid close and long contacts between people.

Online concerts

At the start of the pandemic, many artists offered live streams on Instagram to lighten the mood and support doctors who were on the front line helping those in need. As the weeks progressed, online concerts began to develop. The K-pop industry has been the pioneer of finding new ideas, such as the pop sensation BTS, who turned to paid online concerts to continue their connection with their fans. It may not be the same as a real concert, with the people, atmosphere and noise, but it has allowed these artists to get back on stage. Their agency, Big Hit Entertainment, is headed for a $4 billion surplus this month, due to their pay-per-concert concept that attracted nearly one million viewers. The label has, as a result, gained about $35 million.

In the pop industry, British singer Dua Lipa set up a new level for online concerts, with Dua Lipa’s Studio 2054. It was a flamboyant event that brought together two dozen dancers with Day-Glo hula hoops, glitter balls and many famous guests. The concert cost a lot of money and time for it to be put in place, but all of it was redeemed with the five million viewers.

The Royal Opera House also followed this initiative over the winter break, by organising a series of performances to stream online, some being free and others requiring affordable payment, and performances ranged from the great classic The Nutcracker to La Bohème. Online concerts have developed to become more appealing, interactive and diverse to attract all types of audience during this pandemic; enabling artists to continue performing and earning money, and people to attend a concert with zero risk of infection.

Drive-in Concerts

Concerts in cars were one of the first ideas from last summer in the United States, which are similar to movie drive-ins. The price to attend the concert would be the price per car. However, the problem with this solution is that people will have to stay in their cars and follow extra rules, such as putting a safe distance between each car and to wear masks whenever outside.

Traditional concerts

For now only, New Zealand has managed to organise a large-scale conventional concert without social distancing. On 16 January 2021, around 20000 people gathered to attend the biggest gig since the coronavirus began. The country managed to hold this kind of event because only 25 deaths and a bit over 2,300 cases have been reported since its first positive case. It is therefore one of the few countries to have managed to contain the virus and resume live concerts. The only requirement for people who attended the event was to have Covid tracer application active on their phones. This was only possible in a country that has seen no active trace of the virus for many months, which is sadly unlikely to happen in the UK anytime soon.

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