Think about this: you are a guitar playing singer songwriter who has risen from busking on the streets of Dublin to playing to a full house at Radio City Music Hall in Manhattan. That itself is the dream of a lifetime. The grueling work of balancing songwriting with serenading folks passing by hoping to catch their attention and a little bit of cash is over. Your debut album No Fear released in October, 2019. It comes out at number 1 on the UK Albums chart and also was number one in Ireland. Fun fact: No Fear displaced the reissued Beatles album Abbey Road at number 1. Attention is being paid. You exceed 1 billion streams and get a Brit Award nomination. Life is now about touring with your band while the crowds grow and the tickets grow scarce.
Then, inexplicably, everything stops. It’s a pandemic. Coronavirus. Go home. Stay home. No shows anywhere before a crowd for the rest of the year. Maybe none either next year as well. How do you keep the momentum you built from dissipating? Will the newly acquired fans remember you after the restart? Who will be there when the theaters return with fans?
Kennedy had a fast rise. His song After Rain pulled millions of streams on Spotify. Fans noticed his presence, his look. and the sound he created. Those connections are created through sounds and videos then reinforced when he can play in person for the fans at each tour stop.
My series of articles looks at how each artist continues to maintain and enhance their relationship through Covid-19 with their existing fans. It’s easy to think about what to if you’re an artist with a meticulous social media history, someone who has carefully cultivated followers on Twitter, Instagram, Tik Tok and Snapchat. But those are not necessarily the skills learned from busking.
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Here’s what Kennedy did which fascinated me. He streamed a live show. Now that doesn’t seem revolutionary, but at the time this was conceived major artists were basically busking themselves from home. Many seemed ill prepared. My impression was more often than not it hurt their public image to just be like anyone else with a guitar and a shaky internet connection. The mythology of live music builds demigods. There’s real power in good lighting and powerful sound.
Kennedy put together a truly polished show with full band and proper lighting at the Museum of Natural History in London. Some Summer Night was a live performance with truly professional staging and presentation. It cost $15 which is a bargain for your entire household to watch a concert together. For comparison, Disney charged $30 to show you Mulan as a live action film. This is a movie which everyone knows will be soon streaming for free on the Disney channel. The big news was that 35,000 tickets sold for the Some Summer Night. Remember that life’s dream of selling out Radio City Music Hall? That was only 6,000 seats. 35,000 streaming tickets might equal 100,000 fans watching. To perform before that many people live would require a residency at Radio City.
Also, the quality of production which went into Some Summer Night showed that a fully produced live stream is engaging. My disinterest in live streams developed from clicking into underproduced toss-offs. This was a true concert. It’s just that my seat was too far from the stage to see, so I had to watch on the screen – just like a stadium show. The only thing missing was the energy of the crowd. I am sure we’ll get that sorted at some point. Perhaps that is how Oculus and the other virtual reality companies will enter the concert space.
What I found interesting in my conversation with Kennedy was how he was open, thoughtful, and truly authentic. There was none of the artist double speak. Just him. The conversation is below. Listen. Dermot Kennedy is worth your time. You will be hearing a lot more from him in the future. He is not using any gimmicks. Instead, he just puts in the work.
Final fun fact: I created and hosted Rescue Meet, a live streamed conference for live entertainment professionals to collaborate in search of solutions to the issues resulting from the Covid-19 freeze on events. The very first images we transmitted were the group video of the Foo Fighter’s song Times Like These. Little did I know then that Dermot Kennedy was one of the artists performing.
Follow your own path to Dermot Kennedy. His videos and streams are easily found. Once you find him you are as good as in the audience when he is again able to play live shows before fans.
Source: Forbes – Business