Brands have a thing or two to learn from bands amid this ennui

Emmet McGonagle
Emmet McGonagle

Amid a tidal wave of cancelled events, the music industry has turned to the internet for support.

I nearly cried when Glastonbury was postponed.

Even typing that sentence makes me feel like an arse, especially considering the racism, stockpiled bog roll and general chaos at play as the coronavirus pandemic trudges on. Nonetheless, I was still absolutely gutted by the whole scenario, channeling my prepubescent self as I listened to Daniel Bedingfield full pelt in my bedroom. Dramatic? Not at all, mate.

With the ever-growing tide of 86’d festivals – SXSW, Coachella and Big Weekend, to name a few – comes disarming new ways for artists to interact with their fanbase. If fans can’t go to gigs, the gigs will come to them.

While Christine and the Queens took to Instagram to "deal with the ennui" of social distancing with a studio-based performance, punk artist Yungblud transformed his cancelled gig into a 62-minute talk show, racking up almost half a million streams since its release last Monday.

On a mission to keep spirits high among an increasingly deflated mass of music fans, Defected Records hosted a digital festival from a desolate London nightclub to keep morale high for everyone stuck in the plight of social distancing. Hardly the same experience as spilled drinks and eccies in club bathrooms, but it's the thought that counts.

Even Gal Gadot released that god-awful Imagine cover. Imagine if John Lennon was alive to hear that tone-deaf mess, am I right?

While it may be a great time to be Pot Noodle or Instagram or – in some ways – ITV right now, not every company is going to come through this pandemic unscathed. In the midst of self-isolation and uncertainty, brands need to adapt and move forward, otherwise it’s all downhill from here. 

In an email to his staff, Jason Kanefsky, chief investment officer at Havas Media, called for adspend to be focused on "building and maintaining a meaningful relationship with consumers rather than driving near term sales".

It’s this focus on the human experience that has found the music industry evolving through an immense rough patch for the UK’s experiential industry. 

Putting community at the forefront yet again, Gay Times has announced a digital festival of activities and events to keep LGBT+ members banded together – consolation for the multitude of Pride events that have been cancelled so far this year.

Even Nokia – which recently had its Bond-themed campaign postponed, thanks to Covid-19’s debilitating effect on cinema – has found a way in trying times, announcing two new phones via live stream after the brand’s unveiling event was cancelled.

In the end, as with all things, it's about maintaining a relationship. Even with the world in quarantine, society has pulled together (admittedly, via an onslaught of memes) to inform, entertain and support each other through the drama. 

Now is the time for brands to step up to the mark.

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