As concert tours are on a continued hiatus amid the pandemic, musicians are making do with livestream events.
The financial damage from canceling and postponing events is extreme: The industry is expected to lose nearly $9 billion in revenue this year.
The costs hit close to home for most artists, who make the bulk of their earnings on tour. Tonina Saputo, a St. Louis-based musician and barista, lost her job at a coffee shop when it closed due to the pandemic and had to cancel her summer tour, leaving her living off her savings.
“It's been rough,” Saputo told TMRW. “When you're on tour, you're on stage either every single night or every other night, so, being here during this time — it's been very odd and a bit disheartening.”
Over months of social distancing, musicians have turned to streaming concerts as a way to fill the void, make some money and even support charities. Early in the pandemic, Saputo performed virtually in the Sofar Sounds Listening Room, an online space created for artists to stream concerts from around the globe.
"It's kind of like putting on your acting hat, and performing as if you're live and talking to the audience as if they are in front of you or are behind their screen, live," Saputo said. "That was kind of different and I was kind of bummed about that, but it was just an adjustment."
Some artists, like Los Angeles-based indie band Sure Sure, are taking matters into their own hands, by producing, promoting and running their own livestream sets. The band members already live together, so they decided to pay six live shows in April, each from a different room of the house. They called it the "Home Home Tour."
"We live together, we work together, we play music together, and we don't get a break from one another," joked band member Kevin Farzad. "We were joking, like, 'What if we toured in our house? Every different part of the house can be a different venue.'"
The "tour" quickly came together with the band designing a poster and T-shirt for fans to purchase. They also donated a portion of the week's proceeds to two different charities: The Los Angeles Food Bank and the National Independent Venue Association.
"(It) was really successful," said band member Mike Coleman. "We made more on that tour than we would have on a headline tour or any headline tour we had done up until that point."
Farzad said that the virtual livestream removed "overhead costs," which helped with the financial success of the tour.
Livestream concerts aren't just a financial win, either. Sure Sure fan Chloe Hoecker said the video streams made her feel like part of a crowd.
“It really felt like I was watching it with a lot of people,” she said. “It was really cool to feel connected to them in that kind of way.”