Gain and loss ︎

However, for those artists who make their living from touring, this kind of give-away livestream gig is probably unsustainable. Although they can call on the audience to donate a bit or to purchase their merch, for the artists themselves, they are experiencing a sort of ‘energy loss’. A study of digital gigs in the virtual world in 2013 finds that the artists tend to experience a lack of energy which is usually associated with the crowd and being focused on by the audience. This absence of visible gaze may make it difficult for  the artists to adapt themselves to an environment surrounded by icy electronic devices.

The current situation might bring some potential challenges to bands’ peripheral vision. Since there is Internet latency, the biggest hurdle is real-time online rehearsal, and currently, bands cannot rely on the livestream to continue their careers. As one of my friends, John, the vocalist of the speed metal band Ironhorse puts it: “I’ve not only lost part of my income, which means I cannot afford my rehearsal room rent anymore, but also lost the real connection with my buddies since we are not allowed to drink, brag together, and more importantly, to explore the potential of our music grooves in the physical rehearsal and gigs, and so forth. Some of the buddies may be reluctant to stay in the band because of being digital, which absolutely misses the point of hard rock and heavy metal you know. This is seriously concerning.”

As for the fans, they might lose some aspects of gig culture which are exclusive to the physical event. Although fans can access gigs through livestream and interact with each other in virtual chatting rooms, communication is only through typing, in which the buzz, the voice of audiences and, the most importantly, the tactile impression of all the objects of the gig, are missing. All of this cannot be replaced just by typing.

Also, the opportunities for dressing up and going to the pub, the venue etc. have been lost. For some music subcultures, the outfit is as important as the music itself -- goth or glam rock, for instance. As for the physical environment, another element of the sense of belonging and identity for the fans, this cannot be duplicated in cyberspace. As one of the comments from Mysthyrming’s live stream which is mentioned above puts it: “I think I need to dress up with my battle jacket, even though I am in my bedroom and there is no camera in front of me. Just show respect to the band m/”.