COVID-19 and the UK Live Music Industry - A Crisis of Spatial Materiality


For the live music industry, and those who work in it, the COVID-19 outbreak has been predominantly framed as an economic crisis, one in which the economic systems through which revenue is derived from music-based products and practices have been abruptly closed off by a crisis of public health. Using Lefebvre’s trialectics of spatiality as a theoretical lens, we will argue that, for live music, the COVID-19 outbreak can be seen as a crisis of spatial materiality. During a time of lockdown and social distancing, spaces of music production (rehearsal spaces, studios) and consumption (venues, nightclubs) have found themselves suddenly unfit for purpose. Drawing upon empirical data from ongoing research projects in Scotland and the Midlands, we will highlight the ways in which COVID-19 has disrupted the spatial practice of music. From there, we will argue that there is a need for new representational spaces of music, and the creation of new forms of musical-spatial practice, appropriating spaces of the domestic and the everyday, and fusing / overlaying them with new cultural meaning and (crucially for musicians) a reconsideration of value by potential consumers.

The Journal of Media Art Study and Theory