By Daniel Griggs, founder of ATX The Brand, a tech agency focused on solving problems, building businesses and strengthening communities.
One of the biggest lifestyle disruptions of the Covid-19 pandemic has been the loss of live music and entertainment. For an industry that relied heavily on ticket sales and sponsorships from live performances, the restrictions on large gatherings and congregating indoors were a heavy blow. Some venues and artists attempted to find loopholes or work around regulations by hosting socially distanced events, but the concert industry still forfeited more than $30 billion as a result of the pandemic. The BBC estimated that musicians lost two-thirds of their income in 2020.
Enter the techies. As the owner of a web design and digital marketing agency, I have seen the demand for web-based solutions and virtual alternatives explode during the Covid-19 pandemic. My company is based in Austin, Texas, which is both the “Live Music Capital” of the world and an emerging tech hot spot that has outranked Silicon Valley for the past two years. It logically follows that Austin would lead the way in discovering new ways to optimize the convergence of technology and live music.
Austin’s annual music festival, South by Southwest (SXSW), typically takes place in March, drawing hundreds of thousands of visitors from across the globe and generating more than $300 million in economic impact for the city of Austin. The festival was canceled in 2020 as a result of the pandemic but has reemerged in 2021 as a virtual event.
As a tech entrepreneur, I was excited about the possibilities of a digital SXSW experience, but as a music lover, I wanted something more. I was missing the raw, unfiltered, exciting nature of intimate live performances and underground events — that feeling of walking into a bar and discovering my new favorite local band or artist.
So, in true Austin tech fashion, my team and I built the solution we wanted to experience and created Artist Replugged, a digital music festival with a focus on local, undiscovered musicians in their most authentic forms. Instead of commercialized music videos or highly edited content, the platform lets music fans browse raw footage from emerging artists.
The development of this project followed a formula that I often find myself explaining to clients: Find the deficiency or the gap in the status quo, and create a solution that meets your audience right at that pain point. Identifying and targeting the intersection of discomfort and desire in a particular demographic is how creative, sustainable tech solutions are birthed.
In my industry, I typically come across two types of people: those who are wary of the tech revolution and those who welcome innovative digital solutions with open arms or even try to be ahead of the curve as an early adopter of new technologies.
The pandemic has ushered us into a new way of life. Although the vaccine news is promising, it could be some time before enough vaccine shots are distributed to reach herd immunity, and it’s quite possible that new Covid-19 variations or even an entirely new virus could sweep across the globe in our lifetimes.
That’s why it is important to embrace the power of tech to not only salvage but revolutionize industries like live music. Through cross-industry collaboration, we will be able to thrive in spite of the challenges raised by the Covid-19 pandemic.