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Embracing the new normal: Now what?

In part 2/3, Paradigm's Mike Malak asks how the industry can capitalise on its current interconnectedness, and urges live professionals to be kinder on themselves

13 May 2020

Mike Malak, Paradigm Talent Agency

After two months of lockdown, we have reached a sense of acceptance in the change in circumstances felt in all parts of our lives. Now it’s time to start exploring what the new normal will look like when this is over.

At the moment, every artist and brand is striving to stay relevant within the digital realm by engaging in livestreamed events and creating steady content. It has suddenly become very noisy as individuals work to navigate the space. Some artists and bands have been initiating livestreaming sessions with no direction, resulting in low audience figures, while others are taking much more of a strategic approach and analysing what their audience and fans want.

The key message here is ‘don’t force it’. Artist teams should not feel pressured to heavily invest in livestreaming content simply because it feels like that’s what the rest of the industry is doing. It’s imperative that you are methodical in your approach and ask things like: What is the demographic of my audience? What platforms do they use? How can we do this differently so that it cuts through the noise?

We must take this pause to be strategic and adapt. I urge you to explore what that is out there, how it works and where it is best applied – whether it’s to promote a festival, a venue or an artist. If anything, you can flourish from this situation as there is an opportunity to become smarter. Through using this time to educate yourself on the available technology, it’s time to understand how it is working and make judgments on what could work for you and your business moving forward.

The new normal, in my opinion, will be an overdue improvement

The live industry will return and I do not doubt that it will thrive. But we must learn from this time – not only in terms of strict financials relating to ticket prices, guarantees and how business is done, but also with how we can innovate and improve the experience for fans on a global level.

Your perspective towards the situation changes everything. The new normal, in my opinion, will be an overdue improvement. If we can reinvent a better business model whereby artists, promoters, agents, managers, venues and festivals all work more efficiently in tandem, it will have been worth hitting reset. Also, I believe that technology will help us open new income revenue streams and allow the live industry to become somewhat futureproof, or at least more resistant; we must all work towards this common goal.

Recently I was invited to a new regular event named ‘ZoomChella’. This was a great example of pushing the abilities of platforms such as Zoom and getting people to engage together in a more meaningful way. It was invite-only and showcased new artists and DJs, while the audience was a group of like-minded music and business leaders, as well as influencers – similar to what you might expect to see in a VIP section of a festival or club. It was an enjoyable experience and, somehow, while being at home I managed to do some networking.

That being said, there is always room for improvement in getting this formula just right. To strike the perfect balance of connectivity and improve the live industry, we must be okay with falling short a few times. Through failing, we learn what does not work and get smarter through the process.

That leads me to remind you to be kind to yourself.

The sooner we all accept that we have good and bad days, the better

From my daily Zoom calls with individuals across the industry, one consistent theme is that we all have good days and bad days. I certainly am no exception. The last couple of weeks, I have had days where I wake up motivated, and by 1pm I have achieved two days’ worth of work. But then you have days where everything is a struggle. Your mind feels exhausted and you just don’t want to deal with the ups and downs that come with daily conversations around what to do next and how to find a solution to individual problems.

The good news is that everyone feels the same – and it’s OK! The sooner we all accept that we have good and bad days, the better. Everyone should continue talking about this, so there is a wider understanding that it is a normal part of living through a pandemic with uncertainty as to when it will end and when we will feel ourselves again. If I acknowledge that I’m having a bad day, I work on ways to improve it, and have found that momentum is everything. I set a goal to achieve one thing: it doesn’t have to be anything of real importance – it can be as menial as getting up and preparing your desk for the day ahead, dressing up properly or handling a bill.

I strongly believe these little things enable you to feel as though you have completed a task in your mind and create positive momentum to help you through your day and encourage you that “today will be a good day”.

As we look towards what the next few years will look like for us in this industry, I urge everyone to be open to adapt and take this forced reset as a time to build an even stronger, more efficient and sustainable business where we can all thrive.

Read part one of this three-part series, which focuses on the opportunities and positives for the live industry presented by the coronavirus, here.

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