Culture goes virtual: Content creators, performers find innovative ways to keep their audience entertained

April 5, 2020 1:15 AM

In the light of recent regulations, many artists and cultural organisations have taken to the internet to continue with their events.

Singers and standup artists around the world are also curating their content for live performances on social media.Singers and standup artists around the world are also curating their content for live performances on social media.

By Shriya Roy

Around the world, cultural events, concerts, live shows, etc, are being cancelled as a result of the outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic. What happens then to artists? How do they survive? Simple, they go online. Content creators and performers are finding new and innovative ways to keep their audiences entertained, even from a distance.

In the light of recent regulations, many artists and cultural organisations have taken to the internet to continue with their events. Concert halls are going ahead with performances without an audience and sharing the livestream online. Singers and standup artists around the world are also curating their content for live performances on social media.

The Indian music community has joined hands with Instagram for a one-of-a-kind online music festival called Live In Your Living Room. The festival that took place on March 29 featured 14 artists who used Instagram Live from their respective accounts. The lineup included the likes of Armaan Malik, Lisa Mishra, Naezy, Shalmali Kholgade, Akasa Singh, Monica Dogra, Zaeden, Arjun Kanungo, Jonita Gandhi, DJ Chetas, Akanksha Dhandari and Ankur Tewari. “The entire world, including our country, is going through a very dark phase at this time. I, along with various other performers, have come together to cheer everyone up with our songs and also spread awareness about the current scenario,” said Armaan Malik.

Mumbai-based rapper Naved Shaikh added, “As an artist, I believe we have to be responsible and keep our audience entertained whenever and wherever.”
Some of the biggest names in popular music have been performing impromptu home concerts for their fans via online streaming and social media platforms. From Coldplay’s Chris Martin, John Legend, Neil Young to Keith Urban and Pink, performers are turning to Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to put up intimate concerts in their living rooms. The campaign trend has been named ‘Together at Home’.

Martin kicked off the trend with a half-hour Instagram concert on his piano, playing a variety of Coldplay tunes and even taking requests from fans. Singer John Legend followed suit, posting his own ‘casual’ concert on social media wearing a robe. He also took a moment to remind viewers to stay home. “A lot of artists have decided to try and help make staying home a little bit easier for everybody, so we’re going to try to entertain you,” he said. Meanwhile, Keith Urban played a half-hour concert on Instagram with his wife Nicole Kidman sitting alongside. Singer and songwriter Ali Sethi, too, has been a regular on Instagram Live, entertaining fans and viewers with his performances.

Bacardi NH7 Weekender and OML came together for a series of online music festivals as well to bring singers, songwriters and standup artists together across genres to livestream performances every weekend starting March 27. The #HappyAtHome edition strings together artists, including the likes of Marty Friedman, FKJ, Ritviz, Sickflip, Abish Mathew and Rohan Joshi, to feature in their weekly digital festival, encouraging fans to stay home and enjoy some unique performances.
Many cultural institutions are also directing people to their online resources. They have come up with virtual experiences to help improve the self-quarantine situation. From virtual museum tours to attending Opera, all in the virtual world. Google Arts and Culture has partnered with more than 500 museums and galleries around the world, from London’s National Gallery, Los Angeles’ Getty Museum to Amsterdam’s Van Gogh Museum, to let viewers take a virtual tour of the institution and galleries of artwork.

Russia’s State Hermitage Museum recently released a five-hour-long video tour of the entire museum. Paris’ iconic Musée du Louvre also followed suit creating its own virtual tours. New York City’s world-famous Metropolitan Opera has taken to livestreaming its past performances online on its website. Broadway, too, has turned online, as the pandemic has forced theatres to shut. With its streaming service BroadwayHD, one can see Broadway’s hit shows from the comfort of one’s home. The site offers a combination of past performances, including Cats, The King and I, and Sound of Music.

TikTok, the world’s leading short-format video platform, has also launched a new campaign, #TikTokUgadi, to bring the festive community together virtually, as India celebrated the festival of Ugadi. The TikTok community took part in the celebration by inviting users and friends to share their wishes with loved ones. Leading celebrities and creators shared their wishes virtually during the festive season, taking culture and traditions to the virtual space.

Attempts to rebuild the cultural experience online is in full flow, as artists and cultural institutions take part in dealing with the situation at hand. There’s no definitive answer to when the pandemic will end and the situation goes back to normal. But as they say, the show must go on.

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