Concert tickets and your couch: Online streaming platforms keep performers and venues in business | Opinion – PennLive

What does art look like during a pandemic?

Not asking for a half-baked quote about how Shakespeare wrote King Lear during the bubonic plague, I mean to ask something that actually impacts people today: how do we enjoy art, performances, or concerts when we cant come together for a show?

The performance industry has effectively frozen in place for the duration of the coronavirus lockdown. Looking down the line to when Pennsylvania begins to reopen, returning to normal will be a long process. For those of us who make our living putting together large gatherings of people, finding a way to survive during this time isnt easy. But by using digital platforms to bring performances to our audiences online, weve managed to find a way to push forward.

Managing The Fire, an independent, grass-roots rock club in Philadelphia, this time has meant uncertainty, and by necessity creativity. Weve had to close and cancel our shows for the foreseeable future, but being creatives at heart, we knew that the desire to put on a show or to experience live music and art wouldnt stop because in-person concerts shut down. If we could find a way to bring our concerts to the community online, we could use the proceeds to help support our employees, and thats exactly what we did.

On April 18, we hosted our first-ever International Stay at Home Fest, an online celebration of music in the time of coronavirus. We organized bands from across the world, streaming performers all the way from Japan, Morocco, Italy, and even Thailand as well as a local Philly band. The show went live on YouTube and was a success, and we were able to give back to our employees throughout this time of hardship. We have since started hosting open-mic performances every Monday, and plan to host another virtual music festival, the Rock Goddess Fest, on June 13.

Running a business, especially one that cannot easily transition to remote work or an online business model, is difficult in times of crisis. But online digital tools like YouTube make it easier to think creatively. Using programs like Google Docs and the G-Suite of free organization and communication services have allowed us to share our plans and build an online music festival on short notice with performers scattered across time zones and separated by oceans.

You never know when crisis will strike, and transitioning online can be a lifesaver like it was for us. Thats something that the tech world knows theyve made it easier than ever for anyone to use free services like YouTube and cloud storage, and our states lawmakers would be astute to recognize and encourage that growth. Thats why I recently signed a letter to Governor Wolf urging his administration to avoid making any policy decisions that would make it more difficult, or costly, for business owners like me to access digital technology platforms. The letter was organized by the Connected Commerce Council, the same organization who just released timely research that found 30% of businesses nationwide would be out of business without access to digital tools during the pandemic.

While COVID-19 has presented businesses like ours with serious challenges, it has also spotlighted the way that even the most face-to-face businesses and organizations can use aspects of internet technology to create new and exciting ways to support their business. And we know, even when things get back to normal, Pennsylvanias businesses will rely more on digital technologies than ever before, so they must be affordable, accessible, and supported by cognizant policy.

Today, treat yourself by going for a fun night in, and take advantage of the technologies that venues have at our disposal to keep the show going even when we cant be together. Artists are the fabric that knits our communities together, and until we can be side by side again, we value the little moments online we can use to keep our community connected.

Karen Lauria Saillant, owner of The Fire, a Philadelphia music venue at 412 W Girard Ave.

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Concert tickets and your couch: Online streaming platforms keep performers and venues in business | Opinion - PennLive

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