With the Covid-19 pandemic bringing live music events to a standstill, artists have to go online to keep in touch with their fans. It just so happens that boosting engagement also results in higher popularity ratings on Viberate. So what do Nora En Pure, Charlotte de Witte, MANDY, DJ Rap, Yves V, and Alessandra Roncone have in common? They've all been nominated for an International Dance Music Award (each in their own category), and they've all agreed to share their wisdom with us. We talked to our team of unbiasedly selected pros about three things:
The outbreak has massively affected the schedule of artists who spend most of their time touring. As MANDY, the Hardstyle winner of the year, puts it: “Since April was sort of the beginning of the festival season for us, it feels so strange, not being able to do any gigs."
Charissa Saverio a.k.a. Queen of Jungle a.k.a. DJ Rap looks at the standstill as an opportunity to get back to basics: “To slow down, and to explore other ways to entertain and connect with your fans. We’re all in this together, and it's going to be hard for all of us. Here's a chance to find out your true character: selfish vs kind, strong vs weak, etc. My focus right now is to provide goodwill to my fans and cheer them up. For now, I'm going to do a show every Wednesday at 8 pm and just see what transpires!” She started her Facebook live series with vinyl classics to teach us how to bring some old-school magic into these digital days.
Nora en Pure: “Imagining that I could finally be on top or even ahead of things, when I'm back on the road, is actually so motivating.”
“I'm spending time at home, finishing tracks that I've already played quite a few times in my live sets, but they need a finishing touch,” says Nora en Pure, the feel-good House authority: “I’ve started some new projects, as far as that’s possible. I’m also doing a lot of label work, since we get way more demos now, when everyone has time to make music, and other stuff I always delay while touring. Imagining that I could finally be on top or even ahead of things, when I'm back on the road, is actually so motivating. 😉”
MANDY also follows a hands-on approach: "During lockdown, I'll continue to listen to new music, look for inspiration for new music, be in touch with other artists, entertain people staying at home with some MANDY remixes, practice at home with my Pioneer decks for when we're back at it and able to play great sets for our fans. Bedroom DJ sets, you could say."
Music is something people gravitate towards when the going gets tough. Our feeds are full of “balcony concerts” from Italy, proving that even in hard times, nobody can take people’s creativity away. Italian Alessandra Roncone says she doesn’t have to play any sets, because her neighbors are already playing Italian songs daily: “They listen to Trance music at full blast all year long anyway, so I think they have enough, haha. Instead, I've done many livestreams on my page to stay close to my fans and friends during the quarantine.”
Considering musicians’ main revenue flows nowadays stem from gigging and selling merchandize, the current situation is a big blow to the industry. Nora en Pure suggests: “If you struggle with your income, address it. Find a way to promote your music or interact with your following, even if it's small. Tell your story of how important gigs are for you, what this situation means for you, and how important it is to support each other now. Sometimes people have this torn and general image of DJs/producers making so much money. Simple streams, sharing, spreading the word, and downloading can help. Apart from that, use this time to be creative. Make music, talk to labels, update your profile, work on your vision...”
Be tactful – it’s important not to forget that we’re all in the same boat and that a lot of people are struggling due to the situation. It’s a great opportunity to boost engagement with your base, but asking them for money they need themselves could seem insensitive. As DJ Rap would say: “Don't be greedy. Ask how you can serve, rather than how you can be served.”
Belgian “Electro hotshot” and Tomorrowland resident Yves V stresses the importance of keeping your routine and still making music, and MANDY agrees: “Keep sharing music to entertain our fans, as music connects people. A lot of artists will spend a lot of time in the studio, so I’m sure lots of new music is to follow.”
Alessandra Roncone knows we’ll have to hold on for a while: “Even when the virus stops in your country and people can start going to work regularly, it won’t be the same for us artists. I don’t think it will be possible to travel as long as there are other high-risk countries.” Getting on a big festival’s lineup is the result of hard work, and cancelations hurt, even though they're necessary to protect public health. It comes with the job: "If you only expect the optimal possibility, you’ll be disappointed a lot in this industry. It’s better to enjoy everything you have, but at the same time, know that things can change. This is what I always do in life, to keep my serenity.”
Alessandra Roncone: "If you only expect the optimal possibility, you’ll be disappointed a lot in the music industry.”
A lot of artists have been joining the #SaveTheSummer initiative, urging people to help slow down and stop the spread of coronavirus. Yves V explains: “The summer is the busiest period of the year for DJs, producers, artists, and bands, with the festival season at its peak. If we act now, we can save what are often the best months of the year for everybody involved, and really help the industry recover from this.” MANDY adds: “Of course it’s not easy, nobody is made to sit at home, me neither. In our society, we're so used to having all sorts of things on our mind, busy agendas, meeting friends, work work work, always keep going. We aren't used to being 'alone', but thanks to all the social media, there's still a way to keep in touch with each other, so let’s use it and be creative.”
DJ Rap thinks the industry will be able to bounce back, however: “It will be a different animal. Personally, I can't wait to see how all this changes the world. At-home entertainment? It's going to be huge. I even see a future with pay-per-view DJs lol. The possibilities are endless. It's free to dream, so let’s dream BIG and see how we can come together to make the world a better place.”
“I don’t think anyone saw anything like this coming,” says Charlotte de Witte, who regularly professes her love for life on the road. Artists are resorting to streaming as a second-best alternative to playing for a live audience, but besides the mere extent of it, it’s nothing new. We’ve seen "from the studio" livestreams, DJs like Solomun, The Black Madonna, and Tale of Us holding residencies in Grand Theft Auto's nightclub, and Marshmello’s Fortnite event reaching an attendance of 11M fans. How this will affect the future, however, is yet to be seen. Charlotte’s take: “I don’t think that the existence of one of them should lead to the extinction of the other. Both can coexist perfectly. In my experience, nothing quite lives up to the real dancefloor experience. That’s what made me fall in love with electronic music many years ago and still draws me to the clubs.”
Ride the storm as best as you can, and keep in mind: the dancefloor days will return.
Cover photo: Artists' archive
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