How is music being used and adapted during this global pandemic?
Many people will recall learning of the coping methods used during the Black Death which took place between 1346 and 1353. Our immediate thoughts race to superstitious beliefs with pleasant smelling flowers or the mildly frightening masks the plague doctors wore. However, these prevention methods were not the only ones used to reduce feelings of anxiety and panic during these times. Many civilians placed their energy into partying, enjoying music and dancing as a ‘last hurrah’ as they believed death to this illness to be inevitable. Music was used as a distraction to the mass death and fear that had become accompanied with their lifestyle. So, during the global pandemic of Covid-19 that we are experiencing today, how is the music industry adapting to the millions isolating and under the rules of lockdown, and how are civilians using music as a coping mechanism during these fearful times?
Firstly, it is important to establish how and why music can be used to reduce stress and anxiety. Many varying studies have been conducted to show the effects of music on anxious patients in hospitals or hard-working students at university. In a study conducted by researchers at Brunel University and Queen Mary University of London, it was found that post-operative patients were less anxious after surgery and needed less pain medication when the use of music therapy was carried out. This is only one example of many that demonstrates the positive impact music can have on our emotional and physical well-being. Music can be used to distract our brain and therefore our anxious thoughts. This could be conducted by listening to favourite songs to illicit joy, nostalgic songs for comfort or songs that have been purposefully composed to reduce anxiety by affecting our physiological resting rates.
Although it is clear that music can be used positively during this pandemic, there are still aspects of music that have been impacted negatively, most significantly the bands and artists. As a result of the pandemic, many bands have had to cancel tours and slots at festivals, removing one of their largest areas for creating income and profit and have had to find other ways to adapt to not only support themselves but also use their platform to help with the disaster sweeping the world. Bands have taken many different approaches to this, finding ways to connect with their audience whilst continuing to stay active. One example can be seen in one of my favourite bands Vistas who filmed tutorials for their songs and released these onto their Instagram story (@vistasmusic) and encouraged their fans to perform the songs and post them. Not only does this engage audiences and form a bond between the performer and listener, but also works for marketing as covers of the band’s songs are uploaded around social media. Another example is visible in the artist Cavetown (@lemon.socks), Robbie had to cancel his tour for his new album Sleepyhead and instead created Cavetown TV where he carried out livestreams. These included, live covers of his new songs and listening parties to the new albums. He also donated a portion of the albums pre-order sales to community food banks. Artists have each taken their own approach to tackling their loss of revenue and adapting the traditional ways the music industry works.
Singular bands and artists are not the only ones changing up their typical routines as a response to Covid-19. The well-known music platform Spotify can also be seen with new features due to the pandemic. Such as a Covid-19 Guide under genre where updates on the virus can be found in the form of podcasts as well as other podcast categories to stimulate boredom during lockdown. For example; economic effects, uplifting conversations and family-friendly story times. Many listeners have also taken to Spotify to curate their own playlists of recommended songs to listen to. Over on the Leeds Student Television Spotify account you can listen to our Leeds in Lockdown playlist full of recommended songs by those who follow us on Instagram (@leedsstudenttelevision). This action not only creates a sense of community and intimacy with those around us but also allows music-lovers to fall in love with new artists and support them during these trying times.
Although music plays such a large part in most people’s day-to-day lives it is clear that is has offered a way for people to feel connected and interlinked with those we know and those we admire during these isolating times. Offering, a sense of distraction or relaxation from a world of fear and anxiety.
Words by Georgia Lay.