How COVID-19 is affecting the music industry.

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Streamline Records, Interscope Records

The temporary cover of Lady Gaga’s upcoming sixth studio album, ‘Chromatica’, which was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mason Montano, Music Editor

2020 has officially become the year of delays and disappointments, as events worldwide are being canceled and/or postponed left and right to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, and the music industry is no exception.

Live shows, concert tours, and even whole album campaigns have been pushed back in response to the outbreak, leaving the hopes of many artists and fans in shambles.

The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, which is arguably the biggest spring concert event on the West Coast, has been moved from its usual April timeslot to October; English singer-songwriter Dua Lipa had to reschedule the tour for her recently-released sophomore record, Future Nostalgia, to early 2021; and American singer-songwriter and actress Lady Gaga announced early last week that she would be delaying the release of her long-awaited sixth studio album, Chromatica, to the dismay of her fans, who were eagerly anticipating its initially-scheduled release on April 10.

It’s understandable why concerts and live events would be postponed during a global pandemic, as any large gathering could potentially create a public health hazard and be counterintuitive to flattening the curve of COVID-19, but why would album releases be affected? Certainly artists would want there to be music in the world at a time like this, so why would they delay their records? The answer is simple: Money.

Quarantines, lockdowns, and shelter-in-place orders are being implemented across the globe, resulting in all “non-essential” businesses, such as record stores, temporarily closing their doors, and Amazon has suspended all shipments of “non-essential” products from its warehouses, including CDs and vinyls, in order to prioritize the delivery of medical supplies, household essentials, and other high-demand products through April 5 — severely impacting the distribution of physical music, which according to Genius was down 27.6% last week.

But we’re in the digital age, and most people consume their music through streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music, so you’d think that album releases wouldn’t be affected. In fact, you’d think that they would thrive with so many people left stuck at home all day, but the complete opposite has occurred, and according to Billboard, music streaming was down 3.5% last week — a steep downward spike from the 1% fall of the previous week.

A major contributing factor of this decline is the fact that most streaming occurs while people commute to and from school or work, and now that everyone’s in quarantine, that medium has been all but eliminated, which is very troubling considering that streaming is a major source of income for a lot of independent artists, so don’t stop streaming!

Speaking of the artists, what have they been doing to cope with the quarantine, you ask? Well, they’ve turned to the internet, of course!

Several of the artists that I follow have been hosting livestreams and digital concerts to connect with their fans during the quarantine. English singer-songwriter Sam Smith has been posting videos of themself singing stripped-down versions of songs from their now-delayed third album on YouTube, and this past Wednesday, English singer-songwriter Charli XCX hosted a live DJ set via Zoom for Club Quarantine, where she played her unreleased song “Taxi” — the most popular and highly coveted track from her leaked 2017 album, “XCX World”.

With the whole world and music industry on pause, musicians haven’t let the odds stacked against their careers stifle their art and creativity, and you shouldn’t either! Call your friends, read a book, write a song, stream your favorite artist’s new album, and until things get back on track, make sure that you take care of yourself and your health by staying home if you can (and if you can’t because you’re an essential worker, we appreciate you putting your health on the line to keep the rest of us afloat) and practice good hygiene. 

We will all get through this, and remember: Music is the cure!

Charli XCX performing her unreleased song “Taxi” during her Club Quarantine DJ set.