Minds on Music: How live are livestreams?

Listening to and experiencing live music is more than just a leisure activity; it can form one’s identity and connect people to communities and places.  The COVID-19 pandemic saw the end of live music as we know it, with online livestreams rapidly taking over.

In the lecture series ‘Minds on Music’, we look at music from a different scientific perspective. In this episode you will listen to Femke Vandenberg reflect on this phenomenon from a cultural sociological perspective. She examines this transition of live music to online music, focusing on the experience of the audience.


Why do we attend concerts? What sets them apart from playing a vinyl record or listening to Spotify? Well, concerts are live, meaning that they bring people together in a physical space at a specific time. There is no opportunity to fast-forward, pause or rewind, making it a unique and spontaneous event. They take place in a venue, club or on a festival ground, meaning that they are a tactile experience; you don’t only listen to the music, but you also see the artist, feel the bass, smell the stale beer and touch the crowd. Connecting people in this physical space means that it is also a social event, where interactions occur between artists and audience, and within the audience itself. But can you experience the excitement and social nature of a live music concert online?

Livestreamed concerts have become the norm during the COVID-19 pandemic.
With all music venues closed, artists have taken to the digital realm to stay connected with their fans. But what does it mean for one’s experience if music is live in terms of time, but in terms of space, it is mediated through a screen?

Femke Vandenberg is a PhD and lecturer at the Arts and Culture Studies Department, at the Erasmus University Rotterdam. Her research focuses on the collective experience of live music for various social groups in the Netherlands. In this talk, she will explain the importance of live music for people and the places they reside in. She will then discuss what happens when live music moves online, situating it within the current COVID-19 pandemic, and analyze how this shift has affected the social experience.

This lecture is organized in collaboration with IASPM Benelux, the International Association for the Study of Popular Music.

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