Artists Talk About the Uncertain Future of Live Music

Members of Death Cab for Cutie, Shabazz Palaces, and Tacocat weigh in on what they think is going to happen.



To paraphrase, I think the reports of the "death of live music" are greatly exagerated. But first, this:

"People already took risks going to shows (drunks, finding parking, what have you)."

Really? I mean, I guess if you think about risk all the time this might be how you think about going to a show. But then it's probably how you think about crossing the street, buying coffee, getting in your car, etc. I have never thought that drunks, finding parking, etc., were risks particular to seeing live music that would make me second guess going.

People have been going to live music for, what, 30 years? 300 years? 3000 years? 30,000 years? People aren't going to stop going to shows forever because of this. Was this kind of hysteria reported during the flu pandemic of 1918? Yes, there might be some changes. But no, I am not going to sit on my couch at home and stream a band playing music for a virtual audience. I'd rather poke a fork in my eyes and ears.

What will likely happen is venues and the industry are going to suffer just like every other industry. And, unfortunately, people will lose money, go out of business, etc. But when things start to open up, the venues and promoters and bands will be there and people will want to go and see music and performances again.

The hysteria, hyperbole and hot takes are hogwash.


You wish @1. This virus is very contagious and very nasty. Nobody is covering the truth here. Venues will not return to old ways unless it’s for the suicidal. And go right ahead.
Sad sad time for the Arts, all of them. I never stopped buying CDs.


@2 Although undoubtedly the world will change in some permanent ways because of C19, live music and people wanting to see live music won't simply stop. "Nobody is covering the truth here" actually says a lot. CDs have always sucked, by the way.


they still make CD's? lol.


I know Tacocat does CDs and LPs, cause I bought both from one of their live performance venues.

I don't think we will go virtual conference in home, although a few famous artists may.

I do think that we'll see something like the old Music on the Docks or Music in the Park type of events, where we all are required to social distance in an area where we can hear/see them, possibly aided by a giant screen. At least until the highly risky vaccine comes out - for you guys, that will be sometime between January and March 2021 - first providers will be the guineau pigs for the even riskier version before that.

I hope smart bands and performers WILL SELL COOL MASKS to fans ahead of the performances and AT THE VENUE when they do perform. I'd love to buy a few!


Bands can put on shows online and it will be like everyone has the best seat in the room. Jack White did a show like this (though it had a live audience) for his first solo album ~ performed at Webster Hall in NYC (two sets, with two different sets of musicians, one male, one female) that was sponsored by American Express. There will always be a way to see live music. Lou Barlow of Sebadoh has been doing live shows Instagram and there's an upcoming show with Erykah Badu vs. Jill Scott on Instagram Live. Since IG is not the best way to watch a show, things will evolve. People will still need to buy tickets. It will be like Austin City Limits for the internet age.

And, hopefully, at some point in the future, venues and in-person live shows will make a comeback.


"It's going to be like this: You get an app or a subscription like Netflix, but for concerts," says Butler. "And those who own the platform will pay artists for their content. So, instead of live venues there will be studios where the artist plays, records, and is seen playing and recording, and sells what they have shown and made."

Wow, worked out well when the platforms were paying artists for the studio recordings. Right?


Austin City Limits is free. Or at least it used to be.


Live shows and venues disappearing altogether?
OK Boomer...


No one knows what will happen when the dust settles. I find it comical though, that some insist live music will go on as usual. Perhaps it will. I have a memory disorder and I can remember events in a way most people can not. I remember vividly hearing people say things like "people won't stop buying vinyl (after intoduction of CD's), people will continue to buy music (after introduction of Napster). I'm a professional musician and though I never intended to teach, I shifted my focus 18 years ago and I've been able to outlast many more capable musicians. All that said, I hope music can continue to thrive and inspire no matter what the venue.


@12 "I have a memory disorder and I can remember events in a way most people can not. I remember vividly hearing people say things like "people won't stop buying vinyl (after intoduction of CD's)."

This is a joke, right? Or are you unaware that vinyl records sell about as much as CDs and they will likely outpace them in a year or two?


@14 The fact that Vinyl came back for a hot minute doesn't mean shit. It's a very small niche market that just got smaller. Did you hear about Bop Street Records closing? Vinyl was never going to outpace digital and we surely don't need any more plastic floating in the ocean. I understand the need to cling the past, but it is inconsequential to reality.


@14 and I might add that a large part of our population doesn't actually purchase music, they either steal it through bittorrents, consume it for free or a nominal amount on Youtube or Spotify. The vast majority of purchases are singles as well.


Like fellow musicians I still perform live from my home and stream. Many people can listen to my mp3 recordings. It's not the same thing as live, but may music and the arts never die.