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Will going live replace live concerts? - Industry insiders say it’s highly unlikely

Published:Sunday | April 12, 2020 | 12:00 AMShereita Grizzle - Staff Reporter
Tara Playfair-Scott
Tanya Stephens
Chris Martin

As the COVOID-19 virus continues to spread throughout the world, the face of live entertainment as we knew it has been altered. In a matter of weeks, major music festivals and concerts across the world have either been postponed or cancelled. Now left without a stage to showcase their talent, artistes and musicians have had to turn to social media to stay connected with their fan base. Instagram and Facebook live concerts have increased significantly as entertainers use the popular streaming platforms to keep the industry’s wheels turning. Already, artistes such as D’Angel, Agent Sasco, Christopher Martin, and Kevin Downswell have had full-on concerts from the comfort of their homes. With the pandemic expected to last for months, The Sunday Gleaner asked some industry insiders if this could be the beginning of the end of live concerts or would things normalise once it is safe to congregate once more.

In her assessment, experienced singer Tanya Stephens said that there is no denying how much the coronavirus outbreak has shaken the industry. She explained that as a result of an increased online presence, the entertainment industry has evolved. For her, this may be the start of a welcome expansion, but as a seasoned performer, Stephens says she believes that the live-entertainment scene has to recuperate.


“Life is about change, and I definitely see this broadening the entertainment scope to include more live sessions on social media than we were used to, but the physical part of the industry has to bounce back. It has no choice,” she said. “Live sessions on social media is not going to replace an actual LIVE show, at least not just yet. Maybe sometime in the future it will, but I don’t see that happening right this moment. You know why? Nothing beats direct physical contact. Everybody is going live, and it’s offering people a lifeline in these times when we are restricted to our homes, but social media isn’t very social. It’s a virtual reality. It’s not ‘real’ in the very essence of the word.

“There are certain nuances you get when you stand up in front of somebody that you can never get through a WhatsApp text, you just can’t. Nothing can ever replace the energy exchange between an artiste and his or her audience in a live-show setting,” she continued. “We are human beings, and we thrive on physical interaction. We make adjustments to help us cope when we cannot, but as soon as we are able to, we want to have that physical connection again. I don’t see live concerts going anywhere anytime soon.”


Reggae artiste Christopher Martin shared similar sentiments recently when he said that even after hosting a concert under 10,000 watchful eyes from across the globe, he still longed for that special connection that only comes from a live show. ““It felt great, knowing that the people were into it, but nothing beats a live show in front of people you can actually see, touch, interact with and feed off their energy right then and there. With all my heart, it’s something I’ve loved (performing on stage) and a place I feel free and confident,” he said. “It’s (the stage) like a girlfriend I haven’t seen in a long time. I can’t wait for us to link up again.”

Marketing and public relations guru Tara Playfair-Scott told The Sunday Gleaner that while partying from the comfort of one’s home has become an idea many have warmed to, online will never replace the feeling one gets from a live event.

“I think the industry and the world itself has made a tremendous shift. We have seen with things like Club Quarantine with DJ D-NICE, Quarantine Radio with Torey Lanez, online concerts from John Legend, Battle of The Beats put on by Swizz & Timbaland, that we can be fully entertained in our own homes. We can ‘party hop’ from the comfort of our couches, no designated driver necessary, and no worry about parking. You can go from Coppershot Vibes Pon di Live to UberSoca LIVE and wake up and hit Zimi Live. But we still need human interaction,” she said. “There’s no feeling like hearing music LIVE and in person. That joy of dancing with your other half or your crew when your favourite song comes on and being front-of-stage to watch your artistes perform. In my opinion, the online aspect can’t ever truly replace that.”