The entertainment industry has changed dramatically since the beginning of the pandemic with in-person gatherings such as concerts, festivals, and even college campus activities being replaced with virtual engagement and a lingering disconnect between live entertainment and hardcore fans.
While events like concerts have been available in a digital space, both audiences and large artists such as Justin Bieber, are against this and argued the limitation of connections between artists and fans this creates. Fans have been anxious for the pandemic to slow so that live music could be back on the main stage.
Zoology freshman Gracie Pearl said that because of this, many artists are reinstating their tours. With large events containing some of the biggest stars in the music industry today such as Harry Styles.
While the tours are on the road, there are still safety precautions in order that are brand new to the concert industry, she said.
"Harry Styles has this protocol for his entire tour that you have to show proof of vaccination or you have to have had a rapid COVID test in the last 24 hours and show a negative test," Pearl said. "You have to wear a mask the entire show in the building regardless.”
Psychology freshman Olivia Moore had a similar experience when attending a Saint John concert after not attending a concert since February 2020, right before the virus hit the U.S.
"I like that they made you show your vaccine card or a negative COVID test because that makes everyone feel a bit better," Moore said.
These new health precautions have seemed to work. Pearl said that she has not heard of Harry Styles' concerts being a super spreader event of the virus. She said that while some people think these conditions are strict, like fewer people being in the pit and mask-wearing, they keep people safe while at the event.
While these safety precautions may muffle the noise of concertgoers screaming and singing along, it does not seem to restrain the energy of these events, Moore said.
"I feel like if you are a concert-goer, it's something that is huge to you,” she said.
Moore also said that because so many people had not been to concerts in so long, she believed artists would charge anything for ticket prices and people would purchase them for the experience again.
The entertainment industry, especially with worldwide tours reopening, is expected to gain lots of money within the next year, soaring towards billions in revenue, according to a Vox article.
According to the Vox article, festivals in the coming months have also been predicted to have 87 percent of their usual audiences, showing that the timid nature of people during the pandemic is fading away. Music festivals such as Bonaroo and Rolling Loud sold out in record time.
Marketing senior Olivia Andre, who is also a special events coordinator with the Michigan State University Activities Board, or UAB, said it has been a struggle to coordinate and put on large-scale events in the unpredictable time of COVID-19.
“The biggest difficulty is making sure people feel comfortable and making sure that people still want to come to our events even though there is a pandemic going on,” Andre said.
She also said people are being pulled towards concerts again, people are wanting to interact with large events through the university.
"Right now, there's a little bit more of a pull because lots of people are vaccinated and the boosters are coming," Andre said. "People want to get out and do things instead of being home."
Andre said she's excited to host events in person now and create opportunities to bring people to campus to mingle and be together for the first time in a long time.
"UAB wants to bring happiness to Spartans again and give them a good experience," she said. "I think that is so valuable."
The bigger concern with the world of entertainment opening up again is that many people are unwilling to follow the COVID rules that apply to these events.
“The people in front of me refused to wear masks and it was so frustrating," Pearl said on her experience at the Harry Styles concert. "If you are really a fan of this artist, that’s his stance on things and you should be respectful of that and follow the rules."
Moore also said college students on campus do not express much caution even in a large environment and with COVID numbers still rising.
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“I’m worried there are people who will never trust the science and never follow the rules,” Pearl said.
However, this fear of others being irresponsible is not stopping the industry from growing and concertgoers from attending their favorite events.
"Getting a taste of going to a concert really expands the desire to want to go back to normal,” Moore said.
Pearl said there's a sentiment of not knowing what you have until it's gone and missing live music more than ever.
"It makes me feel better that there are now safe ways to do these things," Pearl said.
Concerts are sure to continue to be in demand due to not being able to recreate that feeling from one's own couch. Ticketmaster is continuing to see an uproar in record-breaking sales and millions of fans waiting for only a few thousand tickets at each event, the Vox article said.
“I never want to go back to what we used to feel like during the pandemic,” Moore said.
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