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How has COVID-19 changed music?

How has COVID-19 changed music?


            It goes without saying, that this past year has been extremely tough for everyone as far as the pandemic, shutdowns, and civil unrest.  The music and entertainment industry has taken huge hits and had to adapt or perish.  Many small music stores, manufacturers, and venues have already closed their doors for good.  As unbelievable as it sounds, even streaming went down this year (Spotify down 11%).  Luckily, music is essential for the human experience, and that has kept Nick Rail Music focused and open to changes for the post COVID-19 era.    

As musicians, the mental stress of not being able to play our instruments with others, in addition to the changes we all experienced this year has been immense.  I know this because I am one of them.  Granted, virtual avenues have kept some of this alive, but we all know it’s not ideal.  Most of us have used Zoom in this last year, and just for regular business meetings, it has its challenges. It is definitely not recommended as a way to learn music as a beginner.  Like with most change, us amazing humans have come up with adaptations to deal with issues like latency in Zoom, Facetime, or Google teams.  Educational and non-profit programs that were able to afford it, used Jamulus (released in 2006, but gained massive popularity at the beginning of the pandemic) which allows performing groups with access to quality internet and an Ethernet connection to rehearse and perform with what was described to me as ‘workable’ latency.


The music industry is not new to adapting.  With the advent of file sharing, the singles model, and streaming; the industry, most of the time reluctantly and with the grace of an elephant on thin ice, has adapted to these changes.  Now the industry has faced the closing of many concert halls, bars, restaurants, and venues.  This then extends to artists, road crew, audio engineers, security, logistics services, and many other support businesses. 

We have seen some very resourceful and hopeful adaptations like artists going live on social media with their Venmo usernames on display for donations, all the way to new movie releases completely skipping any theatre release and going straight to streaming platforms.  There have been aerosol studies conducted by Colorado University Boulder and the NFHS to determine how safe playing wind instruments are in-person.  It was one of many driving factors of innovation that led to the widespread use of instrumental PPE for wind players.  One great advantage of young musicians learning during this period is the increased use of technology.  One of the biggest complaints of new music professionals has been that their education did not cover the business or technology side of the music industry.  This new exposure will broaden opportunities for the young musician, unfortunate in the way it happened, but beneficial in this ever-increasingly digital world.  Even with all of these great adaptations, the entertainment industry will be changed forever.


Many heroes have been recognized this year: first responders, healthcare workers, and educators. All which deserve appreciation and praise.  However, music educators should also receive some additional appreciation for what they have been able to do this year.  Not only did they go through everything that non-music teachers did, but they also went above and beyond.  They have become IT experts whether they wanted to or not; they have been at the beck and call of their students in many ways, including getting repairs completed; ordered instrumental PPE when it was time to rehearse in person, covering the hybrid learning model; edited audio and video for virtual concerts; and all the extra time, effort, and money dealing with these curveballs.  Please thank your music educators before they go on summer break if you haven’t already.          

Support of music education is more important than ever.  If we stop supporting the arts, we will lose our pipeline to seemingly infinite entertainment.  Without our children picking up that instrument, singing in choir, painting on their first canvas, learning that first ballet pose, we will not have an entertainment industry that is even close to being functional.  We ask that from now on we all do our part to make sure the arts are not an afterthought, or even forgotten.  If we don’t actively have music and live entertainment in our focus, there will be no Broadway show to enjoy, there will be no live orchestra to score your favorite video game or movie, there will be no music festivals to take selfies at to show off to your friends.  Bottom line, music, and especially music education is essential to the human experience and we must ensure it not only survives, but thrives. 

Peter Davis 

Store Manager - San Diego Location