What’s a post virus music scene going to look like?As we begin the long lockdown and have had our lives turned upside down we cope with music to get us through. It’s the future of this music that concerns us here.

At LTW our minds sometimes look at what kid of exit strategy there might be from this deep freeze. What is the future of the culture that we deeply love. What form will it take. Of course, we have always embraced change but what kind of changes are coming?

Of course all levels of society are going to enter the post virus world blinking into an uneasy new dawn. Initially the relief of getting out of our boltholes will be tempered by the realisation that there is no going back to the old normal.

LTW is a music website so we can only look at the potential effects on our world.

Dredging around the internet and following China and South Korea’s fragile exits from the virus throws up many ifs and buts of how we are going to deal with much changed society and musical culture. Most of it tricky but maybe some of it for the better.

There is only one certainty and that’s uncertainty.

The music scene will never be the same again. We need to find a way of holding onto to our precious culture and its inherent magic whether it’s the small venues that birth so much of it with the personal touch and the communal hive of humanity or the festivals that are a celebration of life and culture.

How we do this in a post lockdown world is going to be vital and, of course, bumpy.

The latest projections are for the lockdown to last until June and the social distancing until October. Obviously these predictions will fluctuate. Even in the best case scenario the post lockdown world will see continued virus flare ups and new lockdowns until a proper vaccine arrives (hopefully in 2021). Whether national or localised these necessary precautions will make life hard to navigate.

It could be that you are on the way to major city on a train and it stops on the way there and has to go back because of a new localised lockdown or it could be a new short sharp national lockdown.

Hopefully by then the government will finally have got testing kits for the virus – god knows why it has taken to long compared to Germany. This could see a scenario in the post virus world where you would have to show an App on your phone at the door to get in to a gig. Would it be a green or red App like in China? This is a very awkward situation that could see lock outs. Will the App be part of the deal when you buy a ticket in the first place? Even who seems the tickets and promotes the gigs could all change along with the process how you get the tickets.

Then there is the gig experience itself,. After our suggestion of livecasting gigs and festivals in the virus lockdown a few weeks ago they have become central to the current survival of the culture with thousands of musicians live casting. In the future will all gigs be both live cast and live? will the people unfortunate enough to have temporary personal lockdown because of failed immunity test be buying tickets to see exclusive live screened gigs with extra like digital backstage access until they are well enough to go?

We have spent decades in love with the scuzzy side of rock n roll. Some people even still yearn for the days of smokey venues. Obviously that will never return. Will venues and festivals have a whole new raft of cleanliness measures? will there be hand sanitisers on the bar? clean toilets? will all men wash their hands after having a piss? Will performers be able to shake hands with the audience? will you be able to buy merch with cash or will everyone be using card readers?

One of the plans is that there will be an extended lockdown for over seventies and people with underlying health conditions – doesn’t take much to work out that huge raft of our most beloved performers fall into this age and health category. This will change the remnants of the live and festival circuit and who is actually performing.

The international touring circuit is going to be very different. Will there be an appetite for travel? will borders be closed down for some time like China is at the moment? will the new post virus travel restrictions and point of entry quarantine make international touring a thing of the past or will it be a temporary two year blip until the vaccine arrives? It’s alright stating music should be confined to the local pub but so much of the culture that makes the local pub work arrived from faraway lands – that was always the beauty of music – it’s international continental melting pot of ideas coalsced into the local.

One of the plus sides is that, like the new baby boom in nine months time caused by the virus, there will also be an explosion in culture and creativity. Unrestricted by modern life hours have been spent on laptops creating new music and ideas. Technology has even allowed musicians to do Zoom jams, live cast or create new music. The creative human spirit is indestructible. Will the music sound different? will it capture the fragility of our existence or will it ignore the crisis and create a needed escapism? our lives have now been defined by pre and post virus and music will need to reflect this.

Can festivals survive? many festivals and events have been bumped into the autumn – hopefully they will be able to go ahead but is it best to plan for 2021 and use this year to plan for the post virus world with its unique and difficult restrictions? Will there be aausince restrictions of 50 or 100 people? how long will they be in place for?

Will the post virus recession crush us? we have been through recession before but this could be the big one. Even if this one could potbelly be the worst one we have ever known people will still want magic in their lives. How we monetise it and make it work will be unique problem – maybe its time to think out of the box and maybe the 1 per cent of performers who hit the jackpot really need to take serious look at the rest of the culture that birthed them and invest something back into it. Of course  everyone who plays music knows the score – if no-one likes your music you don’t get paid but we need to the space for the next generation to create in.

Somehow we have to find a way to make this work. Music may sometimes be deeply traditional but it’s also forward looking and hi tech. It’s one of the perfect platforms for human interaction and emotion. It’s also a space and area where ideas fulminate – it’s part of what we do to entertain and empower. It’s also part of what we do to find solution to unique and difficult problems. We must try and keep the grass roots venues functioning through this difficult time until we get the vaccine.

Can music survive and what form will it take are big questions…what do you think?


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Award winning journalist and boss of Louder Than War. In a 30 year music writing career, John was the first to write about bands such as Stone Roses and Nirvana and has several best selling music books to his name. He constantly tours the world with Goldblade and the Membranes playing gigs or doing spoken word and speaking at music conferences.


  1. Good article, John. Music will always survive if it has listeners. And it will. It may look different but the numbers of people still willing to do online shows is impressive and shows an appetite remains through it all. If anything, we need music more than ever. Stay safe everyone, M. Markhex.bandcamp.com


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