What’s The Future Of Live Music in 2021?

2020 was a tough year for all, especially musicians who rely on live gigs for their livelihood and the fans who cant live without it. So what about 2021? With the global pandemic still ongoing, what is the current state of the live music industry?

On the bright side, there has never been a higher demand or appreciation for music. This has been more evident in the recorded music sector, which saw a 15.5% growth in 2020 (Music Week, 2021), but can also be seen in the eagerness of fans to return to live performances. The demand for live music cannot be doubted, however as the pandemic lengthens, the issue regarding how long many of the venues and festivals will survive while being forced to close has been called into question. 

Towards the end of 2020, we saw the #saveourvenues campaign, led by the Music Venue Trust, that helped the venues that were at risk of shutting down get funding (Hanley, 2020). Although they have and continue to do much good, one has to question how sustainable it is as the lockdown is prolonged. Many venue owners have already claimed they are racking up huge debt, and even when venues were allowed to be open, the economic viability of reduced capacity, socially distanced gigs is an issue. 

In the festival sector, there is huge uncertainty as to whether 2021 will indeed see the return of live festivals, with the pandemic costing the festival sector a 90.2% drop in revenue in 2020 (Homewood, 2021). Even if they are allowed to resume, promoters have said that there will be mass cancellations if they don’t get reassurance of financial security, such as the government backed festival insurance scheme proposed by UK music’s Jamie Njoku Goodwin (Paine, 2021). 

Despite the ongoing devastation in the live music and festival sectors, there has been technological innovation in live streaming and virtual concerts. While live streaming is not a new concept, it has gained great momentum since the pandemic, with many new investors and streaming platforms launched. Most notably, what was once free, homemade streams has evolved into professional, ticketed events. In Midia’s ‘Virtual Concerts: A new format’ report, Mulligan (2021) notes that the streaming platform Bandsintown had a 292% growth in ticket sales in December 2020 from June. Though still in its infancy, we can be sure that live streaming is here to stay, with popular artists such as Justin Bieber and Kiss already performing virtually.  Hopefully this will also help regain some of the income lost in the live music sector should the pandemic claim more of the new year. 

It seems that 2021 will continue to be a chaotic year for the live music sector, not just with the pandemic, but also with musicians being forgotten in the Brexit deal (Paine, 2020). However, with the roll-out of Covid vaccines, many are hopeful that life will return to some semblance o normalcy, meaning the return of live music. Couple this with the innovations in streaming technology, and debates about equitable remuneration (see #brokenrecord and #fixstreaming debate) and we could be potentially heading for a more positive future for musicians and the industry.

As always, please like, share and comment to let me know what you think!

#music #musicbusiness #musicindustry #weareviable #ukmusic #musicians #livemusic #festivals #2021 #livestreaming #gigs #saveourvenues #Brexit #brokenrecord #fixstreaming


Hanley, J. (2020), Music Week, available from:  https://www.musicweek.com/live/read/music-venue-trust-launches-new-campaign-to-save-remaining-crisis-hit-venues/081858

Homewood, B. (2021), Music Week, available from: https://www.musicweek.com/live/read/new-uk-music-report-calls-for-measures-to-save-live-music-summer/082312

Mulligan, M. (2021), Music Industry Blog, available from: https://musicindustryblog.wordpress.com/2021/01/08/virtual-concerts-a-new-video-format/

Music Week Staff, (2021), Music Week, available from: https://www.musicweek.com/digital/read/era-streamed-digital-entertainment-revenues-surged-during-2020-lockdowns/082326

Paine, A,. (2021), Music Week, available from: https://www.musicweek.com/live/read/uk-music-s-jamie-njoku-goodwin-backs-mps-call-for-government-backed-insurance-scheme-for-festivals/082347

Paine, A. (2020), Music week, available from: https://www.musicweek.com/live/read/have-touring-artists-been-forgotten-in-the-government-s-brexit-deal-with-the-eu/082296

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