Live Streaming: Welcome to the New Normal in Concertgoing (for Now)

Updated 4/4/20

In case you haven’t noticed, live streaming has replaced concerts as the new normal and, though, it may not be ideal (what is these days?), it provides an intimate glimpse of artists performing at home without the grandeur of a live show with its pulsating lights and smoke machines.

The “iHeart Living Room Concert for America” broadcast on Fox and iHeartMedia radio stations across the country on March 29, while livestreaming on the iHeartRadio app, was an intriguing showcase, perhaps even a blueprint for different approaches to minimalist performance. Hosted by the ever affable Elton John from his kitchen, the “concert” covered a lot of ground in an hour, featuring Alicia Keys, Billie Eilish, Backstreet Boys, Camila Cabello, Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong, Dave Grohl of Foo Fighters, H.E.R., Demi Lovato, Mariah Carey, Sam Smith, and Tim McGraw. The TV broadcasts alone attracted some 8.7 million viewers, according to iHeart Media.

Video ranged from low-res, courtesy of the performer’s smartphone, to slightly more elaborate multi-angle productions. The marvels of modern technology even made it possible for Tim McGraw and members of his band and the reunited Backstreet Boys to perform together while separate from their respective homes. Performances were interspersed with inspirational (Lady GaGa), informational (Ryan Seacrest), and even comedic (Ellen DeGeneres) messages from celebrities.

As cool as it was to see and hear Dave Grohl perform an solo acoustic version of “My Hero,” the standouts for me were Alicia keys playing a naked version of “Underdog” with updated lyrics that paid homage to “people on the front line knowing they don’t get to run” and a super-relaxed Billie Eilish, accompanied by producer/brother Finneas, singing “Bad Guy” with eyes closed while slouched on her couch. Whether you like the music or not, you have to admit the 18-year-old’s delivery was as pure as it gets.

Mariah Carey also deserves a shout out for her unreal vocal acrobatics at the end of a stripped-down, rough-mix rendition of “Always Be My Baby” (2:24 in the video below) backed by piano and three backup singers, all at home in separate locations. If you don’t believe Carey’s vocal range is five octaves, you really need to check out the video.

A jovial Tim McGraw singing “Something Like That” from the diving board of his majestic pool was fun if not a bit strained (sorry, no retakes or studio tweaks) and in stark contrast to Billie Joe Armstrong’s acoustic reading of “Boulevard of Broken Dreams,” sung while chewing a big wad of gum. I saw the Green Day front man deliver an electrifying performance at Madison Square Garden maybe 18 years ago but here the 49-year-old seemed to be going through the motions. Still, he deserves credit for supporting the effort, which raised $10 million for the First Responders Children’s Foundation and Feeding America, according to iHeartMedia, including a donation from Fox Entertainment that matched the first $100,000 raised.

A replay of the entire “concert” was available for a couple days but has since been replaced with a black screen that says “this video is private” (probably due to rights issues) but all is not lost: Replays of individual performances can be found online (like the ones here) and the entire event will be rebroadcast Monday, April 6 at 9 p.m. ET on Fox stations.

The LiveStream Pipeline

On Monday, National concert promoter and event ticketing powerhouse Live Nation announced the “Live From Home” initiative, an online hub that lists daily live streaming performances by an eclectic mix of artists — from Good Charlotte to Melissa Etheridge and just about every genre inbetween. Many are on Facebook and Instagram where you must be logged in to watch.

LiveNation maintains a list of daily livestream events on Actually, videos are mixed in with livestream events, like the rebroadcast of a 2004 Jimmy Buffet concert in Hawaii today (Saturday April 4) at 8 p.m. ET. Today's lineup also includes performances (all times ET) by alt-rock band Young the Giant (4 p.m.), the classic rock soundtrack band All Good Things (6 p.m.), Melissa Etheridge (6 p.m.), Dead & Company "Summer 2020 Tour" (8 p.m.), and at 9 p.m. Ben Folds and Matchbox Twenty's Rob Thomas — these as just few of the more than three dozens shows scheduled for today.

Below is a sampling of recent performances, some of which may be available as replays.

APRIL 2, 2020

3:00 p.m. – Uncancelled Music Festival featuring performances across the country through April 11

4:00 p.m. – Good Charlotte

4:00 p.m. – Chris Conley of Saves the Day

6:00 p.m. – Melissa Etheridge

6:00 p.m – Michigan Music Alliance - local musicians

7:00 p.m. – Vox Mini Session featuring Lindsay Ell

8:00 p.m. – Ryan Tedder from OneRepublic

8:00 p.m. – Pat Monahan of Train

8:00 p.m. – Bleeker

8:01 p.m. – Questlove

9:00 p.m. – Ben Gibbard from Death Cab for Cutie

9:30 p.m. – Jon Pardi

10:00 p.m. – Major Lazer frontman Diplo youtube

10:30 p.m. – Echosmith Digital World Tour

APRIL 3, 2020

3:00 p.m. – Uncancelled Music Festival featuring performances across the country through April 11

3:00 p.m. – Sofa Sets featuring performances every half hour by Aurora, Jade Bird, Taylor Janzen, mxmtoon, Hamilton Leithauser, and Mansionair

5:00 p.m. – Billboard Live at Home session featuring Hozier

5:00 p.m. – Cory Marks

6:00 p.m. – Barenaked Ladies

6:00 p.m. – Melissa Etheridge

9:00 p.m. – Treasure Fingers - DJ Livestream

9:00 p.m. – Mike Herrera from MxPx

9:00 p.m. – Jim Brickman

9:00 p.m. – Big Freedia

9:00 p.m. – Morgan Page