No easy way back from Covid-19 for music industry in Cork

No easy way back from Covid-19 for music industry in Cork

Efforts in Cork to organise events similar to this German drive-in rave have run into problems.

Cork city returned to some degree of normality this week, but the music scene continues to look to the future with uncertainty. Online gigs and other creative endeavours continue, but it doesn’t look like we are going to be having too many shows this summer.

A few people both here and on the continent are trying things out. Irish musician Gavin James is doing some drive in shows, in various venues around the country. The reaction has been mixed, though he has received a lot of publicity, so we will see what happens. Elsewhere in Europe, there have been big online drive-in raves and I know some people tried to do similar here, but as of yet they have encountered problems from a logistical point of view.

Efforts in Cork to organise events similar to this German drive-in rave have run into problems.
Efforts in Cork to organise events similar to this German drive-in rave have run into problems.

I’ve seen some footage of terrible looking social distanced club events in Europe too, and as much as the intentions are good, the actual parties look pretty lifeless! The roadmap here seems to be ahead of schedule and the pubs will be open pretty soon, but the best DJs and artists can hope for is some background gigs I’d say. The need for social distancing is still imperative and I think the days of packed out venues will have to wait for a while yet. That said, I’m sure some venues will try some creative ways of involving music so by the end of the summer there might be something happening.

As I mentioned at the start of the Lockdown, the whole situation has brought a lot more focus to the craft of DJing and many DJs have done some excellent work online. We would now be in the thick of the festival season though, and nothing can replace the real thing. The extra attention on DJ culture and music has definitely made us even more hungrier for these parties, but at the moment we just have to wait it on out.

Venues and promoters are putting on a brave face and bookings continue, mainly for later in the year and 2021, which is pretty telling. I’d like to think we will be back to full levels by this time next year, and the whole world is hoping we don’t get a second wave. Many festivals are either postponing their line-ups until next year and some are even announcing new ones, but the uncertainty will continue for a good while yet.

Local venues and smaller bars and pubs face massive challenges and are just relieved to be back opening soon, though even here it’s gonna be tough for many of them to trade. The whole serving food thing isn’t for everyone, so we will see how it works out. There is no doubt bars and venues will close over this, and it’s already a trade that’s been under threat for other reasons too.

The artists and musicians continue to write and create and record and release, but touring has been impossible and online shows are not gonna make much money. One positive has been the community spirit which was very evident in recent campaigns like Bandcamp Friday, where many Irish artists donated their earnings to the Masi Movement of Asylum seekers group who are trying to end Direct Provision. It’s probably more important than ever that we do try and support artists we like through outlets like Bandcamp, who are much better at distributing profits to the artists themselves than the likes of Spotify.

Buying off the artist themselves is also beneficial, and supporting our local record shops is important too. Many have done their bit online recently, but now they will be able to open their doors again, and their importance in the community cannot be overestimated. This has been a good time for reflection and I think it’s gonna take a lot of effort and co-operation for people within the music scene to get things going again.

People do want to listen to and dance to and see music though, so I’ve no doubt things will recover in time, but there are challenges ahead! At the moment safety remains paramount so we just have to take it all on the chin, and those of us losing work will just have to hope that things will turn in the next few months. I’m not overly hopeful about the immediate short term, but by October or November we might have some degree of normality but who knows? Here’s hoping!

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