Unique Ways to Experience Live Music During Lockdown

(Image: Getty)

Last year was devastating for musicians and the live music industry. Many artists used the time to focus on recording new music instead of live performances, but the lack of festivals and small club shows was felt by music fans of all stripes in 2020.

Artists and promoters tried workarounds, from drive-in concerts to outside shows with marked-off standing areas. But unless you live in New Zealand, you’ve probably only seen your favorite artists via your smartphone screen or listened to their music on streaming services recently. For those who need something a bit more immersive, though, several companies have stepped in with unique solutions to experiencing the thrill of live music while remaining socially distant.

A New Kind of Wi-Fi Speaker

Oda speakerOda speakers function similarly to Wi-Fi speakers like those from Sonos or Nest, but the $299 Oda speaker system is built to broadcast live performances, bringing the show into your home.

The speakers face away from the listener in an effort to mimic the feel of an in-person show. “The speakers have a very particular sound dispersion characteristics,” says Oda Founder Nick Dangerfield. “They way they radiate sound is closer to how sound naturally occurs, so the feeling of presence and almost tangibility of the sound is increased. One artist described it as the performer appearing like a ghost.”

Odaorders placed now is April 2021.

A Streaming Platform Built for Artists

Tim WestergrenSessions, on the other hand, was built with music performances in mind.

Co-founded by former Pandora CEO Tim Westergren, Sessions has been ramping up since 2019. “Sessions went live about a year before the pandemic arrived. So while we never imagined the current situation, there’s no question that COVID has catapulted virtual concerts to the top of mind for everyone in the industry,” says Westergren. “It has dramatically accelerated the engagement of artists and their teams. We’ve had to work furiously to scale every part of our operations to keep up.”

sessions screenshotCollab is an app made for remote jam sessions. It emerged in May from NPE Team, a group within Facebook that’s focused on experimental services, and went live for everyone on iOS in December. Users can start a video and allow others to add their own instrumental parts to it or join songs others have started. Imagine an interactive version of TikTok for musicians.

It’s the kind of music app that can keep your instrumental skills sharp, let you noodle with band mates remotely, or just keep things fun and creative during times of increased isolation. Even if you’re not participating, it’s plenty entertaining just viewing the songs. Some are amazing and others less so, but nearly all are fun or interesting in some way. The hard work to pull the timing off just right is all done on the back end, so musicians only have to worry about what song to play or instrument to use.

Given that the app arrived after COVID-19 hit the US, it’s a service built with an eye on combatting isolation. “We hope Collab can be a way for people to connect via the universal language of music,” NPE Team said last month.

January 15, 2021
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