LESSONS FROM LOCKDOWN
New UK research: appeal of rock music grows during lockdown – but a clear message from fans on what matters next
- During home isolation and lockdown, Rock has been the most-discovered music genre.
- 89% of people believe bands can survive the non-gig era, if they focus on songwriting.
Gigs may be off, grassroots venues may be on the edge and bands have endured months of not being able to play music together, but new research conducted for music website and new rock radio station greatmusicstories.com, the brainchild of Guy B, suggests that — for the consumer — the lockdown era has encouraged people to explore new genres of music — and rock has grown in stature as a result.
Furthermore, research suggests the majority of music fans believe that bands can survive the challenging, non-gig era that resulted from the COVID-19 pandemic, lockdown and social distancing, so long as they put the focus on the art and writing songs, and spend less time making a noise on social media.
With bands and fans going through unprecedented times, Great Music Stories commissioned research at the start and end of lockdown to fully understand music fans’ take on the big issues. The national survey of 2,000 adults — conducted by international market research company MaruBlu for Great Music Stories — revealed that in the early weeks of lockdown, music became more important to many people as a coping mechanism.
Overall, 85% of people said wanted to learn about new music and broaden their horizons by trying new genres during the early weeks of home isolation. Rock music came top of the discovery list, ahead of current pop, dance and country music.
Music people want to discover or learn more about during home isolation:
Current pop 32%
Dance House 17%
Rap/hip hop 16%
Soul funk 15%
Heavy metal 14%
Commenting on the research GuyB comments: “A lot of the chat on social media is about bands and the industry take on the world. I felt it was time to step back and to get the viewpoint, and a meaningful one from the people that buy the music, stream, advocate and go to gigs. Facebook gives one impression, and largely from fan groups, but there’s a massively bigger music audience out there that isn’t talking music on social media and this is the view I felt we had to hear. Sometimes you need to stand back and look at the big picture and with the music industry at a critical point, now seemed a good time”
N.B. These findings were not just flash in the pan results: MaruBlu repeated the research again in June, as the country slowly eased out of lockdown. The June results showed that the figure for rock music had actually risen to 38%, suggesting its audience had expanded further during the period.
By region and age, rock music was most popular with over-40s and regionally: in Scotland 48%, North East 47%, Yorkshire 38%, the North West 36% and South East 35%. In contrast, current pop music was most popular with females (38% vs 25%), whilst musicals were most popular among under-25s (23%). There were signs also of a metal resurgence amongst young people (17%).
The important role that music played as a wellbeing tonic during isolation was also reflected by a number of people going back to buying music in physical form. When people were asked what they planned to buy online to help pass the time during home isolation, books 43%, DVD box sets (23%) and video games (23%) were the most popular choices — although 21% planned to buy physical music: 14% CDs and 7% vinyl. Of particular note, vinyl was most popular among the under-25s (11%), suggesting its niche resurgence is more than just retro nostalgia for older people.
At a time when artists from many genres have flocked to social media to maintain visibility during lockdown, the new research also clearly shows that — from a fan’s perspective — it is songwriting that matters.
Asked how bands could survive the challenging current era of no gigs, 89% of respondents thought artists could survive, but they were clear on what they thought was important: The dominant factor was for bands to use the time to write new material, following by going good quality concerts behind an online paywall. At a time when many young acts flock to streaming sites, more consumers also thought bands should focus on trying to make breakthroughs with radio — at a time when radio listenership has risen.
How bands can best survive the current era of Covid-19 and no gigs:
Focus on writing good songs and recording more good music 51%
Doing more concerts behind a paywall so they can sell tickets 42%
Try to get more support from radio so their songs can be heard 42%
Getting more streams on streaming sites 42%
Doing more Facebook live acoustic shows 36%
Spend more time posting on social media 27%
Produce more merch than fans can buy 26%
Wait for concert halls to open again 19%
GuyB (founder of Great Music Stories) commented: “Lockdown will be a moment in time for the history books. For months and on social platforms we have heard the bands and the industry perspective, but the most important one is the consumer perspective — those people that buy the music, get the tickets and advocate artists. Despite the hardships of recent months — or maybe because of them — music has had a more important role to play in many people’s lives and rock music may well come out bigger and stronger when lockdown finally ends – because more people have discovered or revisited the genre.
“We have seen great innovation in recent months. Skam’s LoFi concert series was an example of a band adapting. Massive Wagons’ chart-bound album is a huge confidence boost for a whole generation of young bands. And artists such as Verity White and Jack J Hutchinson are examples of artists that have focused on creating songs that capture the context in which the music was created.”
Details on the research and The Modern Rock Wellbeing Music Festival can be found at