Distributed Dance Floors, a Virus, and a New Age of Streaming

In the wake of an industry in turmoil, it comes as no surprise to anyone that COVID’s effects have altered the streaming industry. Maybe forever.

Forced to digital dance floors, the web is alive with the unique programming outside the boundaries of physical (travel) requirements.  As artists look for new ways to share their trade, the art of DJs has well aligned with the Twitch culture. We wonder: is this sustainable, but more importantly: how can we help?

Electronic music is and for the most part always was on the web. Bred from forums that eventually became steaming platforms, it’s no new concept to share a set; DJ culture was practically made for it. Now as artists are forced to use new mediums to stay afloat, it’s not just a marketing tool. Over the past month we’ve all gotten a look into the living rooms of our favorite artists across the spectrum of sounds. Now as the audience gets bored, a new age of streaming is showing who can get creative with the live button. Desperate times call for desperate measures and brands prioritize staying connected above getting paid.

In New York alone Nowdays, Public Records, and other physical venues have set up shop streaming from sanitized solo rigs and even artist’s bedrooms across the city. Charged with helping employees replace something of their completely lost income, each have donation options. Meanwhile channels like HÖR Berlin beam up from a bathroom complete with wipe downs between sets. A three-room zoom celebration of 4/20 saw gabber leather by LA-based WeedRave. Though none are replacing gig income, these distributed dance floors are ushering in a new wave of platforms with feels kind of like early SoundCloud. Paired with a crowd willing to slide into the artist Venmo, we just might able to make streaming help (with everyone’s help).

Club Quarantäne took this experience to the next level over the past week. By creating a full on digital nightclub, the Berlin-based crew partnered with RA for an extensive web-based RPG-style venue. Complete with a dance floor that you could explore, bathrooms for private chat, and a coat room to buy merch; the team replicated a nightlife experience while retaining anonymity and inclusivity. Focused on fund raising for marginalised groups, organizers are giving donations to seven charities around the globe. They’ve made it to 83% of their goal, but even though the music stopped, you can still donate.

With venues, shops, and everything in general boarded up across the globe;  hospitality employees are in dire straights. Artists and events are taking frightening break from income (and travel), left to studio isolation. But let’s be honest, it’s pretty damn hard to make an album while the world slowly burns. Some artists have kept a business as usual approach to their release schedule, getting the music out without the dance floor support. The current circumstances force focus on the digital game, but what’s the cost? All I know is that you can do your part by hitting up the Bandcamp. Here is some fire from Club Quarantäne available for use in your own home.

So now that Twitch isn’t just for the gamers, what else can we expect in this new normal of streaming? Flipping on the Facebook live doesn’t seem to cut it anymore. As platforms like Our House provide diverse lineups including story-telling, talk shows, and more, the demand shows that it can’t all be DJ sets. Embedded ways to tip creators aren’t just a nice touch, they’re a necessity. Building from the model that Patreon championed, we’d love to see more of this type stuff. Help enable creators to boost the production value but more importantly pay rent.

So what’s the point of this all? First step is to scroll back through and click every one of those links above. Radical streaming outlets are the true heroes of this apocalyptic start to the year. While you’re there, throw a few bucks to the artists making it happen. It’s a better investment than the vape cartridge. Next up, we’re going to do our best to keep sharing new and unique streams from across the globe. Artists live everything, tune in a support. We’re in this stream together.