From 2016 to 2019, I was active on the music scene. Not a weekend has gone by without me attending a concert or a music festival. However, many of the concerts I had scheduled for late 2019 slowly began to dissipate due to COVID-19.
Although in-person concerts and music festivals are back, their lack of COVID-19 safety measures doesn’t fill the void left by the quarantine.
Many sites were left abandoned for about two years due to the severity of the pandemic. It wasn’t until late 2021 that some of the biggest music festivals and artists finally started announcing their return to the concert scene.
With loose COVID-19 restrictions, the returning Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival neglected precautions that protected attendees from exposure to the virus, risking individuals’ health.
As an active spectator, I still fear a full return to big events due to the panic and anxiety that has gradually built up since the start of the pandemic. This fear has intensified due to events like Coachella, which attracts around 750,000 people, no longer requiring proof of vaccination status or a negative COVID-19 test and face masks.
In Los Angeles County, daily COVID-19 cases are averaging over 1,600, as of this story’s publication. The California average is around 5,900, tripling Los Angeles County’s tally.
Although coronavirus cases have declined since its outbreak, we are still living in a pandemic, and COVID-19 safety measures for concerts and large events should not be lifted.
The Coachella Valley has seen a 77% increase in COVID-19 cases after the first weekend of the music festival. According to a report from the Palm Springs Wastewater Treatment Plant, there was a 75.1% detection rate and 87.3% of the Omicron subvariant, BA.2, in COVID-19 samples. from April 11 to April 12. Additionally, two acts in the Coachella lineup also dropped out due to testing positive for COVID-19.
However, live concert broadcasts provided a needed alternative to visiting in person. Just like other artists have started doing amid the pandemic, Coachella is offering an online live performance webcast, ideal for anyone who wants to see their favorite artists without risking their health.
Artists like South Korean group BTS offered several live streaming events for fans to tune into in real time in 2020 and 2021. These events include Bang Bang Con, Map of the Soul ON:E concert, Muster: Sowoozoo and Permission to Dance On. Step: Online.
Even with BTS returning to live in-person concerts in November 2021, the group still offered an online platform at every concert for fans to broadcast worldwide. Additionally, they streamed their performance in Seoul, South Korea, and around the world to local theaters for fans to experience.
Online gigs have helped sustain my love for live music, which I miss desperately. With the ability to watch performances from the comfort of my home, I didn’t feel like I was missing out on the experience. Instead, it helped ease my anxiety about attending in person and contracting the virus.
Although I didn’t see them in person, I was able to watch BTS perform online, bringing the same joy and excitement that I would feel if I witnessed them in person. Even with Coachella, I got to watch some of my favorite artists like Harry Styles, Doja Cat, and Omar Apollo perform while streaming the event live at home.
Music events lifting COVID-19 guidelines should consider adding an online component for attendees who may be anxious or at risk of contracting COVID-19. By using online streaming as an alternative, audiences won’t miss a great performance, and performers can also benefit from the interactions of fans watching from home.
Providing an online component for the public is ideal for those who are concerned about large crowds, especially if there are no health regulations in place.