In navigating the world of digital concerts, some could point to livestreams and pre-recorded premieres as nothing new. But now that it's arguably the only option for musicians to perform for an audience, virtual gigs have undertaken a bunch of iterations " from in-game concerts and 3D avatars of DJs to audio-only streams and even full production band performances becoming possible.
Barring that wedding gig that Guru Randhawa performed when lockdown restrictions eased, there's been plenty at work on the technological as well as creative front on how the music experience can be moved from the festival to something that can keep fans glued to their screens and tuned in to the sound in rapt attention. Here's what has caught our attention so far:
Pagal Haina Records x Gramrphone
To bolster artist-fan relationships in the time of the pandemic, New Delhi record label Pagal Haina teamed up with UK company Gramrphone to launch an audio-only livestream concert at the end of May. With a recorded total of 445 unique listeners over the span of the four-hour free stream, it was perhaps a testing ground for how much fans valued audio over just watching a musician in their bedroom perform. Pagal Haina founder Dhruv Singh says, "At the time we were still on the fence about live-streaming but after speaking to them and doing a couple of test streams, we realised the potential, not to mention the clearly superior audio quality compared to other platforms which was the clincher." Pagal Haina's recent signee, bassist-producer Hashbass aka Harshit Misra, is also gearing up for audio-only concerts for label Gently Altered's own livestream initiative, Altered TV.
As strange as it looked, there was, in fact, an event in Bengaluru which laid claim to being "India's first social distancing party experiment" which was put together at the Hub on 7 June. Led by electronic duo Answer, the event was also livestreamed with the aim of helping audiences gain 'social confidence' to attend events whenever things eventually opened up. Arjun Nair, part of Answer, says the venue had permission to host people at their space, with about 16 people in total counting as 'participants'. While another event of this sort remains to be seen, it was definitely a bold step, aided by event company, The Unscripted. Nair says, "This model of parties is here to stay, for a while at least. Our research and experiments will continue till this is a model that's widely accepted and executed across live events on the road back to normalcy."
Ritviz, Nucleya and Anish Sood at RetroFuture
Also launching a 360 VR livestream experience this week " on 18 July, in fact " is artist company Under The Radar, whose roster currently boasts of three of the most Indian electronic music producers " Nucleya, Anish Sood and Ritviz. The event, for which tickets are currently selling at Rs 299, notes, "Not A 90-minute gig, not a 90-minute festival, but a 90-minute immersive experience. RetroFuture is the mixing pot of your favourite artists' identities from the past, the present & the future " music, cinematography and virtual reality. Designed to transport you to multiple worlds, this new age music experience is set to redefine your perception of reality."
Although launched with a month full of gigs featuring singer-songwriters, producers and more, GigSync's Listn.TV livestream concert series is currently on hold to figure out technical issues for a smoother relaunch. Founder Aakash Moitra tells us they aim to go from their current nascent stage to bring more functionality between artists and fans. For now, though, he mentions there are multiple camera angles, filters, remote editing and emphasis on audio quality that is being focused on. "Essentially, what we all need to learn is the art of storytelling through a live stream and experimenting with the added capabilities that live streaming allows us to have," he says.