The cancellation of Glastonbury Festival seemed inevitable, and follows scores of live music events and gigs falling victim to coronavirus.
COVID-19 poses a damaging – and in some cases fatal – blow to many in the music industry as venues and festivals face months of closures.
But as the ultimate showbiz expression “the show must go on” dictates, artists are finding creative ways to ensure the music plays on.
Partly inspired by the pictures of Italians singing from their windows, TV choirmaster Gareth Malone is launching a digital project to boost morale – the Great British Home Chorus, with Decca Records.
Speaking to Sky News after the cancellation of events like Glastonbury, Malone said we need to “find other ways to feel good about ourselves”.
“Glastonbury being cancelled – that collective, that feeling that you’re part of some magical moment in time, we’re not going to have that so we need to find alternatives.
He said the virus was only one part of the problem, with his other major worry being loneliness.
“The idea of loneliness as a subject for me to tackle has been around for quite a while, and it’s suddenly the moment – there are going to be a lot of lonely people, and I think music is a great way to reach out to people.”
The therapeutic benefits of singing are well documented, and Gareth Malone is famous for his choirs which inspired the new film Military Wives – about the wives and partners of the armed forces deployed in Afghanistan coming together and singing.
Malone said: “Most of my friends who are musicians have nothing to do – they have no work, they’re at home and they want to keep busy and work, so there will be a lot of people getting involved giving”.
The idea is to get people to sing at home and send material to him.
“What I’m trying to do is do something where we can get regular people in their houses, with their families, and get professional musicians to support that so they have got something to do as well, and create something that sums up how we feel about the situation and that raises our spirits.”
He added he will set up a centralised place where people can send in their recordings before they are set to music, saying: “We are at a very early stage of this. I’ve spoken to Steve Lipson, who has just produced the Billie Eilish Bond record, and he is up for being involved.”
In a similar show of comradeship through the power of music Snow Patrol, Coldplay, John Legend, Neil Young and Keith Urban were among a host of artists streaming free live gigs on social media platforms, directly to the living rooms of isolated fans around the world, in a determined and spirited bid to bring the music to the people – almost in defiance of the shows and tours being cancelled.
As social distancing ramps up, the reliance on social media platforms to allow people to connect and engage through music is becoming rapidly and increasingly prevalent.
Coldplay frontman Chris Martin hosted an impromptu home concert on Instagram dubbing such gigs “Together at Home” and saying; “I was supposed to be with the band Coldplay today, from which I come, but we’re stuck in different countries. So we can’t play together”.
Singer Ben Gibbbard also joined in the concerts on Instagram, Youtube and Facebook and added musicians are keen to get involved to emphasise that ” we’re all going through this nightmare together we are quite literally NOT alone.”