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Music Marketing During COVID-19: How to Maintain Relevance and Promote Music from Home

The current coronavirus pandemic sweeping the globe is having major effects on every aspect of life and business including the music industry. With live concerts and public appearances encompassing a large part of promotion during album rollouts, music and live entertainment are severely threatened as we navigate through these uncertain times, and artists must find new creative ways to market themselves without leaving their houses. This is proving to be quite the challenge throughout the entertainment industry.

With major annual festivals like Lollapalooza and Coachella being cancelled or postponed and award shows and concerts being unable to take place, artists need to improvise as most countries around the world are shut down. Big names like Taylor Swift and Justin Bieber have already pushed all tour dates to 2021, and others like Sam Smith, Alicia Keys, and Lady Gaga have postponed their album releases to later in the year. This brings forth another challenge artists are facing: relevance. If artists are out of the spotlight for too long, people forget about them and lose interest. So how are artists supposed to maintain their relevance and make headlines from their living rooms? Some have found ways to make it work.

The coronavirus pandemic has shown us how social media is a major advantage in our society. Performance wise, rapper Swae Lee made history last month with the first ever Instagram Live concert - a full 40 minute set from his bedroom. Similarly, Dua Lipa promoted Future Nostalgia, her latest album which was released as the pandemic began to peak, by performing singles from her house via Facetime on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. With scheduled appearances at music festivals like Bonaroo and Governors Ball cancelled, Miley Cyrus opted to provide daily uplifting Instagram livestreams replicating that of a talk show, in order to keep fans engaged and keep her name prominent. Lady Gaga, who had booked billboards in Los Angeles to promote her upcoming album, decided to display a thank you note to first responders instead, as The Weeknd is using deserted Times Square to fit the aesthetic of his After Hours album with billboards throughout empty New York City. On a simpler note, DaBaby opted for some humor by posing in a facemask on his new album cover, which debuted at number 1 on the Billboard charts.

Moreover, in lieu of arenas and stadiums, people are now watching ‘virtual’ concerts on TV. One example was a Disney sing-along special that was able to recruit major names like Beyoncé, Michael Buble and Ariana Grande to bring families together and sing nostalgic and uplifting songs. Meanwhile, the One World: Together at Home special, which aired on all major television networks like ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, and more, allowed artists from around the world to perform with each other, alongside messages from other celebrities with ways to help and stay safe during this crisis. Through these telecasts, artists were able to rebrand their songs as messages of hope during these dark times, like Andrea Bocelli, Celine Dion, and other artists from around the world performing “The Prayer” together, and even High School Musical reuniting to sing “Were All in this Together.”

During this time spent at home, I am sure you have all been listening to music in one way or another. COVID-19 is clearly forcing artists to find new ways to market themselves and their music, as we are seeing new ideas never seen before being brought forward. There are definitely unique opportunities for those who have already or do decide to release music during these uncertain times, and while in-person concerts may be on hold, music is playing louder than ever.

-Mickey Schwartz


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