“No matter what, the music will live on…” DJs and artists reflect on the dance industry after COVID-19


Since last March, when COVID-19 announced its unwelcome presence in our lives, large parts of the dance music industry have been in a state of suspended animation – clubs remain closed, festivals are parked until at least this summer (we hope) and many thousands are out of work.

But what sort of industry will emerge once the coronavirus subsides? With the rollout of widespread vaccination programmes, it may now be months before we can once again meet together on the dancefloor. But what will have changed?

Since the start of the pandemic, in every interview that 909originals has carried out, we have asked that very question. Here are a selection of responses (click the title to read the full interview).

John Digweed

I think the industry needs to try to be more united and show that it wants to lead everyone back to the dancefloor safely and responsibly when the time is right.

It’s such a difficult situation because so many good people in the scene have had their jobs, dreams, ambitions, and so much more taken away in a moment, with so many more months of uncertainty to come. That said, I understand why people want to play shows and go clubbing as soon as possible, myself included.

Unfortunately, it seems like, without a vaccine and with social distancing still in place, clubs and festivals will be the last to get the green light to open up again. It sucks for so many nightlife and entertainment industry people who invested everything in their craft, but we need to be patient and wait for when the time is right. [November 2020]

DJ Hell

The underground, independent labels and producers, have kept going all the time, releasing great music and fighting for their right to party. The industry and the big players will continue doing their thing, manipulating the market and seeking to take a dominant position. [November 2020]

Mark Richards, Solardo

I think it’s going to be completely mad for the first few weeks, and then after a few months, it’s going to go back to normal. Those first festivals are going to be some of the best times you’re ever going to have in your life.

It’s like when you start university, and the first couple of months are absolutely mad, and then things sort of go back to normal. Not that ‘normal’ is boring, of course but the first few weeks are insane. [December 2020]

Edzy, Unique 3

I think what we’re going to get bored with are these do-gooders trying to ‘save the promoters’ and the festivals and all these things.

I think losing a few of those big festivals wouldn’t be a bad thing – rather than spending £300 per year going to a festival, maybe people would spend £25 to see a band at a small venue several times a year. Part of the music scene would be kept alive.

Yes, it is a reset, and in situations like this the underground always comes through. Maybe this will wash away a lot of s***, and all these inflated DJ wages and the crap that goes with that. They still call themselves DJs, but they’re doing a totally different thing to what I would consider a DJ to be. Hopefully they’ll get some realisation into them that you can’t behave like that.

So maybe we’ll see these cool, dirty, underground clubs re-emerge, with a fat arse sound system, where you can hear an amazing track that will change your life forever. [September 2020]

What sort of precautions will need to be in place to allow festivals to return?


Nick Warren

Honestly I think once everything starts up again it will very quickly return to how it was before, people love to go out late at night and dance. Maybe people will be less hugging and kissing for a while, but not for long… [November 2020]

Darius Syrossian

As we all know, the industry has been hit really hard. One of the last things to go back to normal will be our industry; everyone involved in it has been hit, not just clubs, promoters or DJs, literally everyone involved in the scene, from top to bottom.

But I genuinely think that when things get back to normal, everyone in the industry will come together and make the comeback absolutely unforgettable. The parties will be incredible, and everyone coming back will be glad to just be doing what they love once again and will be raring to go! It’s going to be great, I think. [July 2020]

Moscoman

I used to believe the switch will be flipped again, but as time progresses I know there will be many casualties. Most of the places won’t survive. I’m sure some of the scene will take a different turn – people need to work, we all need to survive, and who knows what will come instead. [September 2020]

Riva Starr

There will be a slow start for sure – fewer clubs and probably fewer promoters than before, at least at the beginning.

It’s pretty hard to draw the situation down right now, as we don’t know when this will start happening again. It this takes a long time, there will be more major damages to our industry. I hope we use this downtime to figure out a more sustainable way for the industry to operate that includes everyone, not just the big guns. [October 2020]

After a non-starter in 2020, Ibiza will be hoping for a successful season


Shungudzo

I hope that livestream concerts don’t go away in the rush of excitement that will surround touring again, and that artists continue to explore how to reach those who can’t attend their shows in person. Especially those who don’t have the means to buy full-price tickets, or who can’t realistically travel to concerts in neighbouring cities, countries or continents.

I say this thinking about places like Zimbabwe, where many foreign artists don’t go, but where many people love their music. I think, as a result of quarantine, we’ve all realised what a privilege it is to attend concerts whenever and wherever we feel like it. As many of us regain that privilege, I hope we don’t forget those who’ve never had it. [December 2020]

Umek

I think that at first, people really missed parties but now they don’t even feel like going out, they don’t even have the desire to party. That’s the problem. It will take a lot of time for the whole scene to become what it used to be.

I’m not saying that the first post pandemic events won’t be successful, but I think that it will be much harder to attract people to dancefloors.

I’m also curious to see what is going to happen with the online events. They are here to stay but the question is to which extent and how they’ll develop. Otherwise, I sincerely hope that things will get back to normal as soon as possible. [October 2020]

Lee Foss

I think it’ll be a challenging industry for promoters/venues for a few years, but people will be so excited to go out and hear music again that it will also be a really special time to perform, and to play all the songs that came out this year that no one heard.

Musicians and producers are making great music now and when people can hear it again live it will be sweet. [November 2020]

Alex Metric

I think there is going to be an insane amount of energy in dance music when this is all over. The joy and excitement at the communal experience of clubs and festivals is going to be magnified by this time away. It’s going to be a really exciting time for the audience and performers. [December 2020]

What will happen to live gigs that were rescheduled from 2020?


Luigi Madonna

It’s really hard to predict what will emerge after this finishes, when we don’t even know when, or if, it will finish. I think it’s possible that the sounds could be very different than in previous years.

I think it’s fair to say that when certain sounds get popular, and big tracks feature at many summer festivals and parties, then there is a trend towards a particular type of music. It might be a faster BPM, or a type of sound that starts to become more prominent.

Because there have been no parties, or festivals, it’s much harder to calculate what the current ‘sound’ is. I hope this has influenced a lot of producers to explore the sounds that they are drawn to in isolation, instead of what has been popular on tour. In this sense, I think it could be a really positive outcome for the music.

I feel that people want to dance, and will find a way, so it is our professional responsibility to work together to try and create a safe environment for them to do so – progressively and reactively. If something is safe one day and not the next, then we must be able to accept that. [September 2020]

Chris Lake

Well, a scene you can look at in two parts. I do expect some people to come out of this period having come up with some unbelievable new sounds of music. I expect innovative ways of approaching shows.

But unfortunately I also worry for who will be able to afford carrying on playing their part in the scene. Time will tell who and what survives. But no matter what, the music will live on. [August 2020]

[All images sourced from 123rf.com and Pixabay.com]

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