How Virtual Concerts Are Changing the Music Industry

Op-ed

For many, concerts are one of the things they miss most about life before the pandemic. I'm definitely one of them. There's just something completely magical about being in a crowd with other like-minded, cheering fans gazing up at your favourite artist or band with stars in your eyes.

Excitement bubbles in your chest before they strut up on stage, and you sing (or shout) along with the lyrics of every song like a warrior. If you've ever been to a concert, you'll know what I'm talking about. There's nothing quite like it.

I am quite happy to admit that I still suffer with the post-concert blues from my last concert in March 2020, and I actively mourn all the concerts that I had to reschedule or cancel too. In-person entertainment has been put on hold for many of us, but there is a possible solution.

Virtual concerts have hit the scene, and you can now watch some of your favourite musicians exclusively through a screen. It doesn't quite match the experience of the real deal as you'd probably have to pretend a little and get your family to scream along with you, but it could be something we could all enjoy whist we wait for this all to be over.

I booked tickets to a virtual Blossoms concert in December, and here's how it went.

How Does a Virtual Concert Work?

A virtual concert brings a live show to you, directly in the comfort of your own home. They are livestreamed on streaming sites like YouTube and Facebook Live as well as other specialised services such as Song Kick and MelodyVR.

They're fun and convenient for both you and your favourite artists because you get to reminisce the old concert days and support your favourite artist from your living room, and the artists get to play shows again and make money - it's a win-win.

The artists play from a concert venue or a more intimate location such as a studio. To watch a show, you normally sign up to one and receive an exclusive link, or you buy tickets online and use them to log into a server to watch the show. Although they can't beat the wonder of a real concert, it is definitely something to try out.

Which Artists are Doing Virtual Concerts?

More and more artists and bands are jumping onto the virtual concert train every day. The connection between artists and their fans is very important, especially during these strange times.

Artists like Billie Eilish, Dua Lipa, Kaiser Chiefs, Burna Boy and Tom Grennan have performed virtual concerts, so it's really worth keeping an eye out on social media to find out if one of your favourite artists could be performing next.

MelodyVR is one of the most prevalent virtual concert sites to keep an eye on. Their streaming service is modern, popular and easy to navigate, and their lineup is always promising. To watch a concert, you simply buy digital tickets on their website and wait to receive a code by email.

This code will let you into an exclusive “room” on their website to watch the show. MelodyVR also boasts 360° views of the concert and the opportunity to view them in VR, so you can get just a little closer to an in-person concert experience.

Blossoms, Live from O2 Academy Brixton, Melody VR

In late November, I found out that one of my favourite bands, Blossoms, were performing a virtual concert. To say that I was excited would be quite an understatement as I still had post-concert blues from seeing them live right before the lockdown hit the UK. It seemed like a world away.

The concert was hosted on MelodyVR and I bought my tickets online through a provider called Universe, who are part of Ticketmaster. The tickets were less than £20, so I was happy to pay for them as virtual concert tickets have been known to be very pricey.

The ticket-buying process was simple and secure, which was something that I made sure to double-check before purchasing.

An email with my digital tickets came through very promptly. I was actually going to see Blossoms again! My exclusive code came in an email an hour before the show, so I had plenty of time to work out how to get onto the server and resolve any possible issues.

The Showcase

I must admit, I was quite surprised to realize just how nervous and excited I was as the show was about to start. The pre-show butterflies were back, and I really had missed them. My mind drifted back to how brilliant watching them perform in person was, and I remember hoping that this show wouldn't be disappointing.

The concert had such an intimate, personal and relaxed energy from the get-go. The stage was adorned with soft-glowing Christmas lights and a warm yellow haze encased the band members. Despite Blossoms not being able to perform in front of their sea of cheering fans, they brought their all with their songs regardless.

The members, especially the drummer, Joe, and the keyboard player, Miles, radiated their lively energy and positivity through the screen. Lead singer Tom commanded the stage with his large, half-dance steps and a swish of his hips.

It was a pleasure to hear their best tunes live again, even if I couldn't be in the crowd. After an electric rendition of the band's debut single Blow, it was easy to remember why I loved live music so much.

You just can't beat hearing your favorite songs sound raw and passionate in a live setting. The studio album recordings are award-winning, but live shows really bring out the artists' personality.

I marveled at every song in the list and laughed along at the banter between songs too. I couldn't be there to see it and I know many others were watching thinking the same, but it still had that personal touch.

The small, ambient setting, the 360° views and the casual nature of it all effectively separated the concert from a music video. When I was sat there alone on my sofa watching the show, it felt exclusive. The music had come to me.

Virtual Concerts: Are They worth It?

If you're wondering if virtual concerts match the real deal, then you're probably going to be a little disheartened. At this point, I'm not sure if anything will match the magic of an in-person concert, but virtual ones certainly try.

It will depend on the artist or band performing, the streaming service, the venue, the ticket price and camera quality.

You'll also need good Wi-Fi — no one likes a choppy connection.

I got lucky with the Blossoms show, and I'm now open to trying out more virtual concerts. We're all finding out just how important entertainment is to us during this pandemic, so maybe trying new things out isn't a bad idea at all.

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Aleksandra Semjonova

Aleks Semjonova is a second year Journalism & Publishing student at Bath Spa University, England. Alongside writing for The Teen Magazine, she is a writer for the online student magazine Student Pages. Aleks enjoys writing about her travels, her latest thrift clothing item, and new discoveries in the music world.