How COVID-19 May Affect Concerts Going Forward

How COVID-19 May Affect Concerts Going Forward

I’ve written previously about how COVID-19 (a.k.a. Coronavirus…gotta get those keywords!) has affected the southern gospel music industry and community since the mass shut downs began in March of 2020. While some churches are beginning to open back up, they are doing so on a sliding scale, and definitely not the point where outside artists will be brought in. When that will finally happen is anybody’s guess at this time.

This does raise some questions about what SG concert events may look like going forward (when they finally do resume)…

For starters – will these concerts continue to be held in churches? In order for a concert (of any genre) to be successful, they need to draw large crowds. With the world very much AGAINST large crowds as a whole right now, we may see general admission and/or love offerings go away in favor of strictly ticketed events so as to control the number of people in attendance. In theory, this should create a rise in price, as there are only limited seats available for any given concert (you know, supply and demand), but knowing how cheap frugal some SG audiences can be, this may be less of an incentive and more of a turn-off, especially in a church setting.

So, do artists (or promoters, more likely) move away from churches as venues and into smaller theaters and concert halls for SG events? Having a concert there (regardless of genre), one would expect to pay for a ticket, and again, being limited seating, expect to pay a higher price. Heck, even school auditoriums would be a good place for such an event (provided the school is open to such use).

Perhaps even more importantly, what will happen with product tables? SG artists depend on product sales to augment their touring income. In addition, most artists man their product tables themselves, giving fans an opportunity to say hi. With social distancing, will artists still be allowed to come to the product table before and after a concert? Will there be some artists unwilling to do so out of fear of infection? Or for that matter, will fans be less likely to WANT a meet-and-greet out of that same fear?

In a recent email newsletter, The Oak Ridge Boys’ tour manager, Jon Mir, announced that meet-and-greets are discontinued indefinitely out of safety for both the Oaks and the fans. Now granted the ORB typically do not visit their product table at concerts, but they have historically offered VIP meet-and-greets for sponsors and contest winners. Ending this practice, while a good safety precaution, may also be a concession on the part of the organization to keep certain bookings as well.

In fact, it may come down to artists staying isolated either in their vehicles or in a designated area inside the venue, avoiding direct contact with fans entirely. While this is definitely a safer measure, it also puts the artist as risk of offending long-time fans who are used to being able to shake hands and pose for a picture while picking up a 3-CD special. I guess in this instance, the artist has to decide whether the risk of illness is greater than the risk of hurting fans or coming across as stuck up*.

*Just for the record, if any SG fan takes offense to an artist refusing to do a meet-and-greet out of concern for their health, that fan really should go back to church and pray about their own selfish ways. There, I said it for everyone. SG artists, feel free to point upset fans to this blog post.

I know that many SG artists are anxiously waiting to get back on the road. What that road will look like when they finally get the opportunity is truly anyone’s guess. Each artist/group is going to have to decide for themselves what they are willing and unwilling to do under current health guidelines, and how it may affect their own efforts.


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Kyle Boreing

Kyle has been writing for MusicScribe since 2008. He is a musician, producer, arranger, and occasional quartet singer, who pays way too much attention to recordings. He is an alumni of Stamps-Baxter School of Music and has shared the stage with many different artists. He also really likes movies that are "so bad they're good." Visit his website at www.kyleboreing.com, or follow him on Twitter @kyleboreing.

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3 Comments

  1. Reply May 30, 11:27 #1 JSR

    I see this as a tremendous opportunity for some groups to shine and excel. Others may dry up and go away. I’m not happy for anyone to lose their job and don’t wish to advocate this, however, I see this as a critical juncture for the genre as a whole. This is a time for top shelf artists to embrace digital distribution of music, online concerts, concerts at drive in theaters (see Toby Mac and Alan Jackson for two examples), and creating SG Genre that has more of a main stream feel. I see many other artists becoming more of “indie” artists of the SG industry. One group I see well positioned to separate themselves is Legacy 5. Matt Fouch has been building a social media following for many years. The group just dropped possibly the best album they’ve ever released. They’ve got a lot of energy and momentum. They sound great. They’ve got a great story to tell with JT (piano player). It would be easy to see them using this opportunity to separate themselves from the pack. I’m sure there are other groups that are in similar positions and I see this as an opportunity for 5-10 groups to set themselves up as “Southern Gospel” and everyone else just being weekend warriors looking for a break (similar to the guy singing Willie Nelson songs in a bar in Nashville).

    Just my thoughts. COVID-19 is tragic, but SG needs to look for the opportunities to change and shine.

  2. Reply May 30, 12:51 #2 Daniel h

    I think there’s venues that have sat empty for months that used to house huge crowds and audiences. Southern gospel audiences and crowds could fit in just as easily as any socially distanced crowd depending on the price point. I’m looking forward to the opportunities that come out of this and can’t wait to sit in a live concert again!

  3. Reply June 01, 12:56 #3 Dave Fox

    I like the frugal/cheap suggestions. We don’t get many concerts this part of PA (Pittsburgh) and when artist are here I try to make an effort to get there. Knowing what an non-gospel artist can charge I don’t mind paying $20 not including product purchases. I’ve heard for years arguments concerning the “older” fixed income audience etc. Being closer to 60 than I once was I get it however, dates are laid out months ahead of time. Save up for gas, dinner and a concert it’s not that hard. The artist are earning a living.

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