the black swan 2020

By now you may have heard the Coronavirus been described as the “Black Swan of 2020”. If you haven’t here’s an interesting read from Sequoia. In a nutshell, a Black Swan is an unpredictable event that has severe consequences, but in hindsight they are claimed to have been obvious. 

The term itself, Black Swan, arises from the belief that all swans were white as they were the only ones ever seen. But in 1697, a black swan was discovered in Australia by Dutch explorer Willem de Vlamingh, which had a profound effect on zoology. 

The unexpected Black Swan is now having a profound effect on the music industry. As you know, the live music sector is taking a battering as of late and will continue to do so for some time. COVID-19 has unleashed a tornado on events, big and small right across the globe, blown off the calendar. Glastonbury, the most recent casualty, cancelled it’s 50th anniversary, after SXSW, Coachella and a host of other festivals already having pulled the plug or rescheduled.  

But this post isn’t about the doom and gloom of concert cancellations or the severe impact the swan is having on our industry. It’s more a positive note to remind us of the opportunities that can arise from unexpected events. Yes, things change and we are forced to re-adjust how we do things. We may need to cut back where necessary, but in other areas there is room to strive forward. In other words, for every negative there is a positive.

While the vast majority of us are on lockdown, this may be the opportune time to take full advantage of the added time you suddenly have, to look at your knowledge base and use the time to up-skill in certain areas that will add value to your career. It may be beneficial to consider enhancing your marketing knowledge, business/entrepreneurship, production, writing new material, learning a new instrument – whatever it may be. The point is to be prepared for when this outbreak ends and things get back to normal. Because when it does, there will be increased opportunities for those who have used their time well. Here is a useful list of resources you may find helpful. 

Photo of Drop Kick Murphy by Isabel Thomas

Artists love to play live, that’s where the magic is. But make sure you don’t undervalue your music and your long term career by knee jerk reactions such as giving your music away for free via live streamed gigs for short term benefit. Think of ways to monetise it by perhaps setting up a pay-wall or donations. If you decide to do ‘free’ live stream shows, perhaps think strategically and use it as a promotional opportunity to incentivise people to buy your CD, merch or at least direct them to your Spotify account. Doing it for the sake of playing may not be the best strategy in the long run. It is important that the notion of ‘free’, which is rampant in the digital realm, doesn’t creep too far into the live arena and jeopardise revenue from this sector too. 

Yes, doing live stream gigs for social good is a whole other thing, which we fully endorse. In fact the #TogetherAtHome series via Instagram Live organised by Global Citizen is a highly effective way to utilise the power of music to raise awareness of COVID-19 and help raise much needed funds for the WHO (World Health Organisation). The series is seeing a whole host of artists taking part, with the aim of easing people’s minds and creating a sense of collective spirit during the period of lockdown. It also offers people the opportunity to take action to help stop the spread of COVID-19 around the world.

However you decide to get through these unusual times, we hope you and your loved ones stay safe. Make sure to look after your mental health and wellbeing – this is the most important thing.

If you are hosting a live stream show, let us know the details and we will do our best to promote it in advance. We have also set up a playlist featuring beatvyne artists #PlayYourPart. If you would like us to add you, all you need to do is join the community here.  

“Those who survive are not the strongest or the most intelligent, but the most adaptable to change.”

Charles Darwin

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