The GRAMMYs and the Music Industry’s Response to COVID

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
Cindy Dai
March 26, 2021

For over a year, most live performances, including concerts and music festivals, have been shut down due to public health concerns amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Musical artists and all members of the music industry, from venue organizers to security services to tour crews, have suffered considerably due to cancellations of live events. In response to this challenge, though, the music industry developed creative solutions. 

In place of live concerts and music festivals, artists have combined to host virtual concerts. This trend kicked off with the five-hour-long “Global Citizens’ One World: Together At Home Concert.” Over seventy icons from various areas of the industry performed, including Lady Gaga, John Legend, Billie Eilish, K-pop group SuperM, Celine Dion, sports star David Beckham, and talk show host Jimmy Fallon. The event received more than 20.7 million streams and successfully raised awareness for healthcare workers fighting COVID-19, as well as $127.9 million for pandemic relief efforts. 

More recently, the entertainment industry has hosted awards ceremonies with no or limited in-person attendance. The 63rd GRAMMY Awards Show, the most famous music awards show of the year, occurred March 14. The Premiere Ceremony was hosted by singer-songwriter Jhené Aiko. To ensure the safety of all attendees, award nominees could attend the livestream of the ceremony via Zoom. As in previous years, the host announced the category of each award, followed by all nominees and the winner of the award. All winners gave a virtual, thirty-second speech.

A few hours after the Premiere Ceremony, nominees and award winners attended the in-person, red-carpet main ceremony at the Los Angeles Staples Center. Event planners ensured the safety of all participants by limiting the number of staff present, requiring all participants to have tested negative for COVID-19, and maintaining social distancing with face masks. To resemble past years, many pre-recorded performances were streamed one after another. 

Evidently, over the past year, the music industry has had to explore unconventional performance methods to survive. As more Americans get vaccinated and communities begin to re-open, many speculate that live concerts will resume in the near future. In the meantime, however, recent concerts and awards ceremonies have shown the unusual creative opportunities that can come to life in the virtual realm.

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