Though the spread of COVID-19 continues to cancel arts events, the music community has found alternative ways to stay connected.
Heather Macintyre, local Greenville EMT and founder of RealRecords, has an extensive background in the music industry. She has worked for major record labels and has done booking, promotion, management and moreover the years, and has built a network of connections from that time.
With an upcoming showcase featuring many eastern North Carolina rappers and hip hop artists canceled, Macintyre wanted to find a way to take advantage of this downtime in performances. She and her partner, Dre of the East, a local pop/hip hop artist, will be hosting a livestream show on YouTube consisting of a panel discussion with various guests, call-in Q&A sessions and more.
“Based on all the contacts that I have outside this area in L.A., New York, and London… we’re going to do one of those things where you have a panel talk and then we’re going to call in, do the split screen, interview with someone else that’s in the music industry, whether it’s an artist, a booking agent, a bigger promoter, a manager of a very big artist,” Macintyre said.
By interviewing local artists as well as bigger names in the music industry, Macintyre hopes that the show will help to connect Greenville with the national music scene. She offers a positive outlook on the interruption to business-as-usual that COVID-19 has caused.
“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity where we are finally having a pause that we can take advantage of instead of constantly trying to keep up with what else is new or what is next, what is next, what is next,” Macintyre said.
In addition to doing the livestreams with Macintyre, Dre said he would be focusing on keeping up with social media. He said fans and community members can support local artists by turning on post notifications for accounts of the artists they follow, streaming their music and by participating and interacting with them on social media.
He said that artists should be using this time to make connections online. They should reach out to and follow up with people who have expressed interest in their music. Focus on starting conversations and staying in people’s minds so that their “buzz doesn’t die down” during this time of physical inactivity.
Dre said that he and his collective Building Culture had some big things in the works prior to the shutdowns and once people can safely gather again he predicts that community response is going to be huge.
“Those people who are really into their craft, that actually want to be a part of their community, when it comes back, it’s going to be, like, really good for them, because they (community members) are going to be hungry for it,” Dre said. “It is something that a lot of people are going to miss.”
Singer-songwriter Matthew Phillips, is currently based out of Durham, North Carolina but has worked with Jeff Blinder, a well known member of the music community in Greenville and founder of Spazz Presents.
Phillips said that he has been working on ways of integrating live streaming and digital content into the live music industry for a while, but before this pandemic not many saw its value. After in-person events can take place again, he doesn’t see the practices going away.
“Obviously people watch streams of major festivals and really love that but it hasn't been a priority to include that on the local level, and my argument is that actually the local level needs that more. An artist whose playing Coachella doesn’t need exposure,” Phillips said.
Phillips said that he also thinks there will be a surge in interest in live music once people are able to get out again.
“I think there’s going to be a renaissance in live music. I think people are going to remember how much they take it for granted,” Philips said. “I’m hoping that now that people have been home and they’ve had an opportunity to kind of miss what they really love about live music, whether that's the energy in the room or the social element, going out with your friends, going go to see shows and spending time in venues will become a social priority.”
Real Records next YouTube live stream will be at 9 p.m. on Sunday. Their channel can be found here.