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New study shows physical events more important than ever

UTA IQ, United Talent Agency’s research, data and analytics division, has released the findings of a study of consumer sentiment about live and virtual events as the end of Covid-19 restrictions approach.

For Virtual + Reality: The Future of Digital & Live Entertainment in a Post-Pandemic World, UTA surveyed consumers in the US about their post-pandemic plans, finding that online events will augment and supplement, rather than replace, in-person experiences as live events return.

Joe Kessler, global head of UTA IQ, says: “As real life re-emerges, consumers are roundly rejecting a binary choice between virtual and live entertainment. Much like hybrid work, consumers are demanding a best-of-both-worlds approach to their entertainment choices. Consumers are enthusiastic about returning to live experiences, but they also are unwilling to give up the enhanced virtual experiences that helped get them through the pandemic.”

“Those who see a zero-sum game are missing the ample opportunities ahead”

Among the key findings of the report are that:

Consumers’ top reasons to attend virtual events, even when it’s safe to return to ‘real’ shows, are to avoid crowds; experience the event “comfortably”; go to an event that wouldn’t visit their region; spent less money; and explore an event they’re only casually interested in, in that order.

Commenting on the high percentage of Americans who say they’ll continue to attend events virtually, Kessler adds: “Those who see a zero-sum game are missing the ample opportunities ahead if you listen to consumers and their increasingly discerning expectations for both virtual and IRL entertainment.”

The new study follows an earlier report, Forever Changed: Covid-19’s Lasting Impact on the Entertainment Industry, released last April.

 


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Livestreamed shows here to stay, finds academic study

New research into livestreamed concerts, funded by the UK’s Economic and Social Research Council, has found artists are overwhelmingly positive about the power of reaching new audiences through virtual shows, even post-pandemic.

The research, led by Middlesex University and King’s College London, also offers insight into fan experiences of and expectations for livestreamed events and detailed advice on the technical and legal aspects of livestreaming.

The findings of the research project, which surveyed nearly 1,500 musicians and fans in the UK, include:

For their research, investigators also interviewed four concert promoters and an industry charity, and invited 200 music venues to send out the survey. Project partners included the Musicians’ Union, the Incorporated Society of Musicians, Music Venue Trust and promoter Serious.

The findings, however, conflict with a recent survey by trade body LIVE which found just 25% of fans will continue to engage with live streams after the pandemic period.

Over two thirds of those surveyed agreed livestreaming will remain an important part of the landscape after the pandemic

The project’s principal investigator, Middlesex University senior lecturer in music business and arts management Julia Haferkorn, says: “There were numerous comments from attenders unable to visit physical venues, even in non-pandemic times, expressing their appreciation of the availability of livestreamed concerts. Attenders also expressed an appreciation for being able to watch concerts by artists from other countries.”

“The most interesting insight from our research is the important role that livestreaming plays in giving music fans who suffer from social anxiety or other health-related issues access to live music performance,” adds study co-author Brian Kavanagh, lecturer in digital innovation at King’s College London.

Another co-author, pianist and Middlesex University lecturer in popular music Sam Leak, comments: “Our research has highlighted how important it is for audience members to be able to communicate with, and feel connected to, each other and the musicians performing. As a performer, this finding is interesting to me not only because it impacts my livestreaming practice, but also because it could well enhance the experience of my audiences in physical venues.”

The full report, which was published this morning (12 May), is available from www.livestreamingmusic.uk.

 


This article forms part of IQ’s Covid-19 resource centre – a knowledge hub of essential guidance and updating resources for uncertain times.

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Research project looks into economics of live streams

A research project by two British universities has been awarded funding to investigate the monetisation of livestreaming concerts.

The outcome of the project, by Middlesex University and King’s College London, is a report for artists featuring guidelines on all aspects of livestreaming concerts, which will be published in April this year. Project partners include the Musicians’ Union, the Incorporated Society of Musicians, Music Venue Trust and jazz promoter Serious.

As part of the research, a survey investigating participants’ experiences and expectations of livestreamed concerts has been set up. The survey is aimed at both musicians and concertgoers, and participants do not need to have watched or performed in a live stream to fill in the survey. The survey will be live until 24 February 2021 and can be accessed via this link.

The research is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, as part of UK Research and Innovation’s rapid response to Covid-19. The aim of the project is to enable musicians to use monetised live streams as an additional income source to make up for loss of earnings during, and following, on from Covid-19 related lockdowns and restrictions. Further information can be found on the project website, livestreamingmusic.uk.

The project is led by Julia Haferkorn, senior lecturer at Middlesex University and former artistic director of the British Composer Awards. Other team members are Middlesex lecturer and jazz pianist, Sam Leak, and King’s College academic and classical guitarist, Brian Kavanagh.

“We want to better understand the logic of the economics that define online streaming models”

Haferkorn says: “The vast majority of musicians have been hit very hard financially by the pandemic. We are hoping that our report will make it easier for musicians to use monetised live streams as an additional income source.”

“The internet is the Wild West when it comes to monetising music,” comments Leak. “With this project I hope we will be able to provide the facts and figures necessary to help musicians to operate in this new and potentially intimidating performance format.”

“We want to better understand the logic of the economics that define online streaming models. This includes questions such as how musicians are generating income from online events, and [whether] this income compensating is for loss of earnings during Covid-19,” adds Brian Kavanagh.

“By engaging professional musicians, we intend to identify the potential barriers they face as they attempt to reimagine relationships with audiences in an online world in which it is hugely challenging to recreate the atmosphere of a live concert”.

More about the project can be found on the The project is led by .

 


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Covid-sniffing dogs ‘detect virus 94% of the time’

Coronavirus detection dogs of the type being deployed in sports and entertainment venues could detect the presence of Covid-19 in people with 94% accuracy, even if they are asymptomatic, a German study has found.

Filou, a three-year-old Belgian shepherd, and Joe Cocker, an ingeniously named cocker spaniel, were trained by researchers at the University of Veterinary Medicine in Hanover to sniff out an odour that emanates from the cells of people infected with the virus.

First used to detect infection in passengers in a trial at Dubai airport, sniffer dogs have also been deployed in airports in Helsinki and Santiago, Chile, as well as more recently by the Miami Heat basketball team in Florida.

Covid dogs sniff out virus in Helsinki

Holger Volk, head of the clinic which trained the dogs, said the pair could accurately detect Covid-19 94% of the time in more than 1,000 samples.

“So dogs can really sniff out people with infections and without infections, as well as asymptomatic and symptomatic Covid patients,” says Volk, reports Deutsche Welle.

Stephan Weil, premier of the state of Lower Saxony, welcomed the results of the study and said the next step should be test events in the real world. “We now need tests in selected events,” says Weil.

“Dogs can really sniff out … asymptomatic and symptomatic Covid patients”

Miami Heat’s executive vice-president for business strategy, Matthew Jafarian, says the team, based at the 21,000-capacity AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami, ran a smaller trial with the dogs before making the decision to welcome fans back to the arena.

“We looked at traditional diagnostic tests, like rapid antigen and PCR tests. And we thought through operationally how we could administer that to hundreds and thousands of people coming into the building,” he says.

Heat fans who are not comfortable being screened by dogs have the option to take a more traditional testing option, which could take up to 45 minutes, Jafarian adds.

In the UK, the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine is undertaking a similar study to investigate whether dogs can be trained reliably detect the “unique odours” associated with Covid-19 infection.

 


This article forms part of IQ’s Covid-19 resource centre – a knowledge hub of essential guidance and updating resources for uncertain times.

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Study: Singing in some languages riskier than others

Researchers in Japan have found it is easier to spread coronavirus particles when singing in certain European languages than in Japanese.

By comparing performances of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony and Verdi’s La traviata with a popular Japanese children’s song, scientists at Riken, the Kyoto Institute of Technology, Kobe University and the Toyohashi University of Technology discovered that singing in consonant-heavy German and Italian produced twice as many as per minute (1,302 and 1,166, respectively) as Japanese (580).

The study, commissioned by the Japan Association of Classical Music Presenters, recruited eight professional singers, four male and four female, take turns performing short solos without a mask in a “laboratory-clean room”, and follows an experiment by the Japanese Choral Association which pitted Beethoven’s Ninth against a Japanese graduation song with similar results.

Speaking to CBS News, Toru Niwa, director of the Association of Classical Music Presenters, and Masakazu Umeda, his counterpart at the Choral Association, say the studies reflect how Japanese is spoken, with soft, gently-voiced consonants in comparison to the European languages’ harder sounds.

Japanese has soft, gently-voiced consonants in comparison to the European languages’ harder sounds

The Choral Association additionally found that singing in nonsense syllables composed entirely of the Japanese vowels, “ah, ee, oo, eh, oh”, yielded almost no aerosol emissions at all.

Niwa adds, however, that while there have been coronavirus outbreaks at several amateur choirs, professional groups have yet to record a single community transmission event, regardless of the language being sung. “Classical music is basically the western canon,” he says. “If we stopped singing in French, Italian and German, we wouldn’t be able to perform anymore.”

The science on whether singing increases the risk of coronavirus infection, and the effect of singing volume on transmission, is unclear, with at least one study backed by the UK government finding last year that singing is no riskier than talking. However, with many major live music markets closed – and the majority of those that are open still mandating social distancing – it matters little to most artists and concert professionals.

 


This article forms part of IQ’s Covid-19 resource centre – a knowledge hub of essential guidance and updating resources for uncertain times.

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French study shows positive effects of proper mask-wearing

There is a “very limited risk” of spreading coronavirus in indoor venues such as concert halls when all attendees are wearing tight-fitting face masks, according to a new study by French software company Dassault Systèmes.

The CAD specialist is working with the Paris Philharmonic to prepare the the venue for reopening when restrictions are lifted. By creating a 3D model of the Philharmonie’s main concert hall, the 2,400-seat Grande Salle Pierre Boulez, Dassault Systèmes was able to simulate the flow of air around a seated concertgoer in three different scenarios: with no face covering, wearing a loose-fitting face mask, and wearing a properly fitted face mask.

As can be seen in the video above, the infected concertgoer poses the greatest risk to his neighbours sans masque, as expected. With a loose mask (masque lâche), the transmission of infected particles is reduced; with a fitted mask (masque ajusté) the spread of the virus is prevented even further.

While it should be noted that the Grande Salle Pierre Boulez has a sophisticated ventilation system that limits the lateral movement of air, directing it behind the audience and orchestra, the study is nonetheless proof that masks, when worn correctly, play a “major role in reducing the volume of particles emitted into the air, as well as in the speed of the spread”, according to Dassault Systèmes.

The combination of proper mask wearing with a fresh-air supply gives the concert hall a similar profile to an outdoor space

The experiment additionally found that the combination of proper mask wearing with a fresh-air supply built in to every seat gives the concert hall a similar profile to that of an outdoor space, “with a very limited risk of spread from one side [of the venue] to the other”, despite being completely enclosed.

“Our collaboration with the Philharmonie de Paris is part of our daily efforts to help companies simulate, visualise and analyse existing conditions, assess the effect of hypothetical scenarios, and identify solutions allowing to reopen and operate safely,” comments Dassault Systèmes’ Florence Verzelen.

“At a time when the real world is doing everything it can to get out of confinement, virtual worlds make it possible to carry out experiments that reveal many unknowns,” Verzelen adds.

The study also simulated airflow at the entrance to the venue, finding that the existing preventative measures – mask wearing and social distancing – are sufficient outside the Grande Salle itself.

“The safety of the public, our artists and our staff is non-negotiable. This is why we have decided to partner with Dassault Systèmes,” adds Laurent Bayle, director of the Paris Philharmonic. “Thanks to their state-of-the-art simulation technology, we are ready to reopen our concert hall under the best possible conditions.”

 


This article forms part of IQ’s Covid-19 resource centre – a knowledge hub of essential guidance and updating resources for uncertain times.

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Study to examine viewer reactions to streamed gigs

A new research project will examine the physiological reactions of viewers during various streamed concert formats to determine which is closest to the effect of a gig experienced live.

The study proposal states: “In times of the corona pandemic, digital formats are the only way for cultural workers to reach an audience at all and continue to retain them. However, which offers work and which ones could actually be future-proof has so far been largely unexplored…How the concert industry can continue to assert itself as a form of culture and a social forum under the rapid pressure of digital change is a topical and essential question for artists, organisers and cultural policy.”

The international study, entitled Digital Concert Experience, will see participants watch an exclusive concert film of Alban Gerhardt & Friends string quintet performing works by Ludwig van Beethoven, Brett Dean and Johannes Brahms in six different streaming variants while experts monitor the effect on the virtual audience.

The six streaming variants include: an on-demand stream; a ‘social event’ stream where audience members can digitally interact during the break and afterwards; a ‘know more’ stream accompanied by a conversation with composer Brett Dean; a virtual reality stream; a ‘digital house concert’, intended to be watched in-person with others; and a stream in the laboratory where researchers will collect physiological data.

“Which [digital formats] work and which ones could actually be future-proof has so far been largely unexplored”

The research project is led by Zeppelin University (ZU) in Germany, which previously conducted a similar large-scale study, entitled Experimental Concert Research, measuring the concert experience by conducting preliminary and follow-up surveys, measurements of heart rate and skin conductance, movements and emotional states from participants.

“Earlier studies have already shown that study participants smile significantly more frequently at live concerts and have stronger physiological reactions than during concert recordings – now we want to find out which virtual formats are closest to the effect of the concert experienced live and to what extent streamed concerts become a format of its own,” says professor and doctor Melanie Wald-Fuhrmann, director at the Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics in Germany.

The Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics will also be involved in the experiment, alongside the University of Bern in Switzerland and the University of York in the UK. The project is in partnership with the German Music Council and is funded by the Volkswagen Foundation and the Aventis Foundation.

The main study will take place on 15 January 2021 and is accepting volunteers now.

 


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Milan study finds appetite for smaller live events

Gig-goers have a strong appetite for a more diverse range of event formats, especially small concerts, says the findings of a survey conducted in Milan.

The report explores the expectations, fears and changes in the public’s attitude towards live music and clubbing post-pandemic, and has found that smaller, open-air events with an intimate atmosphere are in-demand.

The survey was commissioned by Milan-based think tank Music Innovation Hub and market research agency Ergo Research, which specialises in consumer insight into the cultural industries.

The researchers say that, as the first western city in the contagion curve in February, Milan is a valuable test city for understanding the attitudes of music crowds worldwide and could pave the way to anti-crisis solutions.

According to the survey, gig-goers are eager to attend small concerts in clubs, bars and parks, registration-only private events, and small out-of-town festivals.

“The data from the survey is very encouraging. Smaller events represent a huge under-exploited market. Demand is strong. We need to find ways to unleash this potential and make smaller events economically sustainable,” says Dino Lupelli, head of Music Innovation Hub.

“Smaller events represent a huge under-exploited market”

The report states that one of the biggest hurdles to making smaller events sustainable is the administrative permits and licenses required, which can be very complex and costly to manage, especially in Italy where the survey was conducted.

Regarding coronavirus, the report reflects a mixed attitude towards the current health risk. The findings reveal that gig-goers feel uncomfortable with some of the containment measures (eg. staggered entry, wearing a mask or table service only), and more comfortable with others (e.g. temperature measurement, contact tracing), but are willing to comply with all of the requirements in order to be back soon to the real-life events.

“Smaller events with lower attendance can easily be made Covid-compliant,” says Lupelli.

“And in turn they can have great benefits for the music industry as a whole, since they provide an invaluable breeding ground for new talents. Moreover, they can widen the consumer base, appealing to an audience that is currently excluded from the market because they are not interested in big events. These are typically slightly older, more affluent music lovers, according to the findings of the survey”.

The report concludes with a call to arms for the partial deregulation of permit policies could “encourage a new music explosion”.

 


This article forms part of IQ’s Covid-19 resource centre – a knowledge hub of essential guidance and updating resources for uncertain times.

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Study: Capaldi, EIlish among hardest-working artists

The Institute of Contemporary Music Performance (ICMP) has named Lewis Capaldi the “hardest-working musician” of the past two years, after research revealed the Scottish singer played close to 200 shows from January 2018 to August 2019.

Billie Eilish, Pink, Ed Sheeran and Elton John complete the ICMP’s top five most conscientious artists.

Taking Billboard’s top 100 artists from 2018 and 2019, ICMP analysed the total number of domestic and international shows played and countries visited by each act to calculate a final tally.

Scottish crooner Capaldi, who earlier today cancelled a UK gig due to voice issues, came out on top with 195 shows in total – the most of any artist on the list. Among those, Capaldi clocked up 127 international dates, second only to Elton John at 147, and closely followed by Dua Lipa and Ed Sheeran at 124.

Billie Eilish, Pink, Ed Sheeran and Elton John complete the ICMP’s top five most conscientious artists of last year

In terms of domestic shows, the singer lagged behind in 27th place with 68 home-country concerts, although he was the only non-US artist among the top thirty in this category.

Teen sensation Billie Eilish topped the domestic shows chart, playing 92 US dates, as well as 92 international dates, putting her in second place overall. A capella group Pentatonix, fast-rising star Lizzo, country music band Old Dominion and Pink also played a high number of shows in their native United States.

Both Eilish and Capaldi have visited 23 different countries since the start of last year, fewer than Portugal the Man (24), Sam Smith (25), Post Malone (26), J Balvin (27) and the Chainsmokers (31). Thanks to his mammoth Divide tour, Sheeran had the highest country tally at 32 and fourth highest number of shows overall at 156.

The complete list of results can be found here.

The ICMP is an independent music school in London, UK.

 


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Study: 78 minutes of music a day aids wellbeing

A new study into the therapeutic benefits of music has recommended listening to a minimum of 78 minutes of music a day, in order to maintain a healthy mind and body.

Conducted by the British Academy of Sound Therapy (Bast) and music streaming platform Deezer, the study analysed how people use music to process emotions.

Of the over 7,500 people studied, 90% said they use music to help them relax and 82% listen to music to feel happy. Almost half of respondents saw music as a way of overcoming sadness, with 28% also using music as a way to manage anger. A third of participants found music enhances their levels of concentration.

The study found that the therapeutic benefits of music become evident after 11 minutes of listening. In the case of happiness, listeners need only wait five minutes to reap the emotional rewards of a song.

“Dedicating time each day to listen to music that triggers different emotions can have a hugely beneficial impact on our wellbeing,” comments Bast founder Lyz Cooper. “Listening to happy songs increases blood flow to areas of the brain associated with reward, and decreases flow to the amygdala, the part of the brain associated with fear.”

The Bast- and Deezer-led study found that pop music was most likely to induce feeling of happiness, with songs by Pharrell Williams (‘Happy’), Ariana Grande (‘God is a woman’), Ed Sheeran (‘Sing’) and Little Mix (‘Salute’), as well as classics by Abba (‘Dancing Queen’), Bob Marley (‘Jammin’) and Queen (‘Don’t Stop Me Now’) favoured by respondents.

“Dedicating time each day to listen to music that triggers different emotions can have a hugely beneficial impact on our wellbeing”

Classical music by Beethoven, Pachelbel, Mozart and Bocelli was deemed the most relaxing and the best for concentration. Songs by Simon and Garfunkel, Adele, Ed Sheeran, Pink Floyd and Fleetwood Mac also slipped into the relaxation category, with Pink and Jean-Michel Jarre featuring on the best-for-concentration list.

Rock and metal were the genres of choice for listeners wishing to combat anger, with tracks by AC/DC (‘Highway to Hell’), Rammstein (‘Du Hast’), Metallica (‘Enter Sandman’), Linkin Park (In the End’) and Nirvana (‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’) named by participants.

Elton John, Bon Jovi, Bob Marley, Christina Aguilera, Johnny Cash, Queen, Whitney Houston and Leonard Cohen were found to be the favourite artists for listeners overcoming sadness.

“Music influences our lives and at Deezer we try to understand and embrace the relationship that people have with their favourite tunes,” says Frederic Anteime, vice president of content and productions at Deezer.

“Now we’ve been able to go even deeper into that relationship and see how people use music to manage different mental states. The results offer an idea for how music can be used to manage our emotional and mental health on a daily basis, especially when you have a wide library at your fingertips.”

Deezer has created five playlists based on the results of the study with the recommended breakdown of different music style and genres for a ‘balanced’ musical intake.

 


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