The Visual Culture of the Pandemic – Virtual Concerts

© Copyright 2021 Dariya Ostrovska, Ryerson University.

Discussing the Project

It is critical to recognize that in the pandemic reality, changes to how our entrainment is received are to be expected. Live events that rely heavily on visuals to be as powerful and intimate as they are, will inevitably lack in specific spectatorship efficacy. It is important to understand that while a total replacement is impossible, the birth of virtual concerts does not have to pretend to be something its’ not for it to work. For virtual concerts to be interpreted as effective they must be recognized to have a separate value than its live predecessors. Not only is this the best possible solution due to the pandemic limitations, but it’s newness promises further development and improvement. Once virtual concerts can be perceived as separate rather than a replacement for an irreplaceable experience, only then will they be as succesful as they wish to be.

The adaptability of the world has been an incredible tribute to how much we can accomplish despite the limiting circumstances. From virtual concerts to socially distanced drive-in performances to IGTV streams on Instagram – music has been molded to fit any medium due to its popularity and appeal. The restriction of live events due to COVID-19 has made room for performances of a different kind. Musicians have done their best to accommodate for the needs of its listeners but an impact on their self-conception has been made. July Talk, in an interview which briefly touched on the pandemic as well as releasing their music, described their songs as enduring “a bit of a grieving process that happens when it’s not just yours anymore.” (Fay, 31:30 – 31:37). The lockdown regulations have allowed for the artists to experience less of a frantic urgency to release their music and gives them time to finetune it and sit with it beforehand. The artists mentioned feeling hurried in the same interview – which is certainly a challenge shared by most artists: a tug of war between needing to release and share their work with the world but still remembering it as something private and personal and perhaps wanting to keep it that way. Their self-conceptuality changes as the artists are forced to slow down and asses their music for what it says about themselves and what parts of them go into the songs they are composing, rather than simply acting as entertainment machines.

The visual effects of the pandemic on the media specifically have not stifled or limited much in the entertainment industry other than live concerts and potentially filming sessions, although even those can be done in small enough groups. While these restrictions can seem inconvenient or restricting, the benefit is that artists have been relieved of the relentless pressure to produce and release songs, as well as the release of a digital format for concerts that is extremely well integrated with the realities of technological advances in our day and age.

Why I Chose to do A Podcast

Choosing a podcast medium to speak on the efficacy of recorded performances was a simple decision. Podcasts cater to our auditory senses and play as more of a relaxed conversation rather than a stern poetic-prose riddled essay. What we lost during the pandemic was contact, not being able to meet in large groups and being confined to awkward zoom calls has left us in a position where personalized communication feels awkward and unfamiliar, something I believe podcasts can help alleviate. Furthermore, in the context of my topic, it seems fitting to develop the message of liveness in entertainment using a medium other than our eyes. A conversation about concerts – something so reliant on sensory experiences should not be forced into a medium of text. Regardless, there is and always will be a surplus of articles about the subject so some variety is enjoyable.

(Here is an example of the perfect concert experience. This is a July Talk concert from April of 2019 and encompasses live performance beautifully, including a random head blocking the camera!)

Works Cited

Belfi, Amy M., et al. “Aesthetic Judgments of Live and Recorded Music: Effects of Congruence between Musical Artist and Piece.” Frontiers in Psychology, vol. 12, 2021, pp. 618025-618025.

Burns, Lori, and Jada Watson. “Spectacle and Intimacy in Live Concert Film: Lyrics, Music, Staging, and Film Mediation in P!Nk’s Funhouse Tour (2009).” Music, Sound and the Moving Image, vol. 7, no. 2, 2013, pp. 103-140.

Fay, Leah and Peter Dreimanis “July Talk interview – Leah Fay and Peter Dreimanis (2020).” YouTube, uploaded by FaceCulture, 10 July 2020,

J Murphy McCaleb Senior Lecturer of Music. “Coronavirus: for Performers in Lockdown, Online Is Becoming the New Live.” The Conversation, 14 Jan. 2021,

Mastrominico, Bianca. Live or Alive: A Reflection on Performance Practice in Pandemic (Digital) Times, 17 July 2020,