Virtual concerts may be influencing the music industry, but will the audience follow?

People at a concert (Pexels)

It was said best by Jim Morrison from The Doors: “…for the music is your special friend, dance on fire as it intends, music is your only friend until the end.” 

Concerts were taken away from people during the pandemic, so the music industry stepped up and found a way for them to attend concerts from their own homes.

In a time when concerts and festivals like Ultra and Rolling Loud were canceled, virtual concerts were made possible because the music industry partnered with virtual entertainment companies. They seemed like the answer to fix the problem. 

These virtual concerts managed to get businesses up and running again for the music industry, but audiences are skeptical about it.

Ashley Soto, 23, is an avid concert-goer and attended virtual concerts during the peak of the pandemic.

“I don’t believe virtual concerts were essential during the lockdown since it’s not the same experience,” said Soto. 

Daniella Lavalliere, 21, is not a fan of virtual concerts and doesn’t understand the fascination.

“I don’t feel that virtual concerts do any justice to the experience of going to a concert in person,” she said. 

However, not everyone feels the same way.

In a self-conducted Google survey, the majority of participants said that virtual concerts were essential during the pandemic as they provided them with a temporary substitution.

It brought audiences back to the concerts without having to leave their homes.

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According to Elijah Chiland from the Los Angeles Business Journal, virtual concerts are the beginning of something more as they will continue to grow.

“What we’re creating is the next generation of music videos, and that drives your artist sales, and it drives your ticket sales,” said Robert Ellin, chief executive of Beverly Hills-based LiveXLive Media Inc.

Soto and Lavalliere agree that virtual concerts should be available because everybody has different interests and should be able to enjoy what they like.

People in the survey pointed out that virtual concerts were good and necessary during the time being but believe that it shouldn’t be the main way of experiencing concerts.

“In-person concerts allow for the artists to be more creative when it comes to the stage, the lights, and the sounds and that all adds to the experience,” said Soto. “ Hearing the artist’s voice directly rather than through a speaker at home is awesome.”

TikTok also changed the way audiences view concerts as it provided an interactive world where fans were kept engaged and entertained during the show.

TikTok Senior Manager of Music Partnerships & Artist Relations Isabel Quinteros, said on TikTok Newsroom that TikTok is always finding new ways to bring fans a new fun way to experience their favorite songs and artists.

The social media app did exactly that as it racked up more than 2 million total views and smashed the TikTok record with 275,000 concurrent viewers at its peak when they partnered with The Weeknd and Wave for an interactive XR broadcast.

Adam Arrigo, CEO of Wave, said on TikTok Newsroom, that the partnership with The Weeknd allowed them to create a unique experience that showcased the unlimited potential of virtual concerts. 

“TikTok served as the perfect platform to host this virtual event, as it is home for the next generation of concert-goers – young passionate music lovers,” said Arrigo. 

Soto agrees that both mediums should exist but that the experience of going to an in-person concert has yet to be matched.

“Virtual concerts do not create the same feeling as in person,” she said. “The experience is like no other, you’re in the same room as your favorite artists with others who adore them as much as you do and that’s amazing.”

The bubble chart below supports that statement as that was something 100% of the people agreed on.

In the survey, people chose why each type of concert has its benefits and why they prefer it but in-person concerts triumph.

The majority of people in the bubble chart prefer in-person concerts because of the experience they receive whether it be getting ready to go to the concert or the audience’s energy. 

The survey proved that between 78.9% to 94.7% of people enjoy the simple things like getting ready, interaction, and the audiences’ energy to create a memorable experience.

The survey unanimously showed that people would much rather go to a concert that provided them with a memorable time instead of it being free and live-streamed through a phone.

“The best part of going to a concert is dressing up and going with people that enjoy the same music as you and screaming to the top of your lungs,” said Lavalliere.

The survey results showed that people were frequently attending in-person concerts in 2019 and attendance dropped shortly after that because of the pandemic.

 “There’s going to be an increase now that everyone feels much safer to be out and about in crowds,” said Soto. “Everyone’s been missing concerts so much since 2020.” 

The survey results confirmed that attendance will increase as artists are performing live again and people feel comfortable going out again.

Though virtual concerts were safe havens for people during the pandemic, not a lot of people felt the need to watch them. 

“A virtual concert to me is similar to watching a video on YouTube,” said Lavalliere.

People want to experience the real thing in person and are willing to wait for it.

Virtual concerts were the product of a music-deprived pandemic population. Though they appear to be just a fad, the music industry can still benefit from them.

It’s too early to define how concerts will operate in a post-COVID world, but it’s certain the music industry will keep investing in the digital world and audiences will express their thoughts about it.

Gabriela Gutierrez-Gallo is a senior at Florida International University majoring in communications with a concentration in journalism and a minor in social media and e-marketing. Her interests include film history, writing, and photography.

Chelsea Marino is majoring in journalism with a certificate in music business at Florida International University. She has a passion for music and sports