Virtual concerts; yay or nay?

Is digital media the new medium for musicians to share music with the world? Do people actually prefer digital concerts? These are the types of questions that have arisen since the Covid pandemic. Artists were stimulated to bring their music to the people in other forms than live concerts. Think for example about virtual concerts, live streams or even shows in the metaverse!! But what do these types of digital events do with the spectator? I wonder if people prefer this type of concerts or music events. In this blog I will go more in depth about the experience of a virtual concert by combining it with my own experience.Have you ever been to a virtual concert? How did you feel about it?  Share it in the comments 🙂

What is a virtual concert and how could it benefit us?

Before I start this blog I will first explain what a virtual concert is. A virtual concert is a performance that can be watched online or in the Metaverse (Chen, 2022). You can watch your favorite band and sing ugly while you watch a streamed show on sites like YouTube. You buy your ticket online and then you get access to the live concert. Sometimes you can even rewatch it a few hours after the show. Here are a few benefits listed of hosting a virtual concert:

  • You can reach a large audience. For a live audience you have limited space and sometimes people can’t go to a concert, because the artist doesn’t come to their country. Also in covid time, we couldn’t go to live concerts
  • A virtual concert is more flexible, because you don’t have any physical limitations. 
  • In the perspective of the participant, it could save money such as travel expenses. Often online concerts cost less money.

As you can see, virtual concerts gave us the opportunity to still watch concerts during the lockdown and sing and dance in your student dorm. 

Social Connection and Kama Muta

Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic and the social distancing rules the popularity of virtual concerts has increased. During a live concert people often feel a form of social connection and/or kama muta ( also known as ‘being moved’, ‘being touched’ etc.), but does this change when you watch it online? Research has found that social connection and kama muta are related and that they can be predicted by empathic concern (Swarbrick et al., 2021). They also found that live concerts produce more social connection, but not necessarily more kama muta, than virtual concerts. At last, Swarbrick et al. (2017) also concluded that the salience of the pandeming during concerts predicted kama muta and this effect was completely mediated by social connection. Virtual concerts or live streams could give people a feeling of connectness. However, the research also shows that there was no effect of concert type on kama muta (Swarbrick et al., 2017). I could go more in depth about the link between social connection and kama muta, but it’s important to realize that since the pandemic people could find some form of social connection at these virtual concerts. It made people feel less lonely.

Other forms of digital music events

Covid made musicians think of other forms to bring their music to the people. Virtual concerts are one way to do that, but there were also some other platforms that were used (Ypulse, 2022). For example, Justin Bieber did a concert in the Metaverse.

Here are some other examples:

Before covid some of these forms of digital media were already used, but the pandemic has increased this a lot. 

My experience

During the pandemic I watched a livestream of TwoSetViolins. They made a show and you could stream it on a streaming website. I bought my ticket in advance and then you got access to the stream link. I could do this very easily. During the live show I could also interact with other viewers around the world in the live chat. Also they had many shows for different time zones, so that was also very nice! These YouTubers are Australian and they would have never come to the Netherlands probably so live concerts made it accessible for me to listen to them. This is the same for other concerts. If an artist doesn’t come to your country you could still be there and enjoy their music. It also made me feel less lonely and I didn’t have to leave my house. However, I still missed real concerts. After the social distancing rules were gone in the Netherlands I went to Queen and Adam Lambert: the Bohemian Rhapsody tour. And the vibe (kama muta) is so different. I felt more connected to be honest. And the sound is way more intense than your headphones. But I do see the advantages of virtual concerts, but I hope artists will keep doing live concerts. I also wanted to talk about the ABBA hologram show, but I will save this for another time😉 

References & interesting articles