With summer right around the corner, worldwide entertainment industries waited patiently in the wings, ready to cash in during what is considered to be the highest revenue-generating season. However, the expected inflow of thousands of people flooding cinemas and music festivals was smashed to smithereens, leaving every facet of the entertainment industry in shambles. The front runners of this industry being music and cinema, were understandably affected by the arrival of COVID-19 and it’s many preventive regulations, that disallowed the very foundation that drove their consumerism – socializing.
While the world adjusted to the new regulations of social distancing, affected businesses made numerous commendable efforts to stay afloat in a post-pandemic industry. With some trial and error, the entertainment sector managed to elevate their audience experience, with some companies successfully hosting paid online concerts for various artists, renowned and otherwise. But one is still left to wonder – With their current efforts towards social distancing (eg. live streamed events) make up for the experience in the experiential industry? How is the industry evolving in our Post-COVID world?
Coming to the music industry, there was a surprising reported surge in the usage of online streaming platforms much before social distancing norms became mandatory. The determinant for a successful music release, however, is based on much more than just digital sales and streams. With consumers unable to step out in order to get their hands on physical copies (CDs, merchandise, vinyls etc.), artists across the world are bearing sudden unplanned losses. Musicians that earlier drew the majority of their income from live performances are suffering unavoidable, yet unforeseeable, circumstances. While artists still receive their percentages from their various streaming platforms (Spotify, Apple Music), the cancellation of music festivals, and even gatherings as large as Coachella, has only added to this unprecedented scenario, leaving both artists and event/artist management companies with yet another loss of income. As a (positively received) response, Apple Music and Spotify have set up COVID-19 relief funds to serve as aid for employees within the music community. Instagram and Facebook have also been working towards monetizing for streams hosted on their individual platforms.
As for the film industry, all scheduled blockbuster summer releases have been postponed, theatres are shut and all film and TV production has been paused. Some production houses, however, are adapting to the circumstances and are releasing their content on any and all available streaming platforms based on public demand. Online releases are unfortunately a large step down from cinema releases, with profits being heavily affected. Nonetheless, consumers have been showered with new content by various production houses, reiterating the film industry’s stance against the coronavirus pandemic, no matter the monetary losses suffered.
There is a fair chance that it will take a reasonable amount of time for the world to return to its pre-pandemic state. Several changes are being put in place, adapting whilst still adhering to COVID-19 norms and regulations. Theaters may opt to occupy 50% of their capacity to maintain social distancing. Blockbuster releases, though postponed, are expected to accumulate more crowd, leaving small scale productions to resort to online streaming platform releases. Several countries have already adopted drive-in movie screens whilst still practicing mandatory social distancing norms. As for production houses, the ante will be upped if they are to resume film/TV productions. Operations on their production sites will have to facilitate medical centers for stringent, daily testing. Crew and staff members will have to be reduced in number, and social distancing (along with other mandatory regulations) will have to be actively practiced and monitored.
The live entertainment scene is bound to see a spike in profits once events start to go live. The admission of fewer audience members for live concerts will qualify as almost a one-on-one experience with the artist performing, inevitably leading to the cost of tickets going substantially higher. World tours will be few and far to come by.
An invisible safety barricade stands between us and the world from here on out. Entertainment consumers, the world over, will have to adapt to continue consuming and enjoying content, while the experiential and entertainment industry continues to change and adapt to survive, if not thrive, in this post-pandemic world we now inhabit.