Bristol-based artists wows fans with lockdown covers as live music industry hit hard by Covid-19

After weeks of UK government lockdown, restrictions to our daily lives and activities, many of us are looking for things to do to pass the time.

Whilst lockdown may have eased slightly this week in England, with the ability to drive as far as you’d like and exercise outdoors an unlimited number of times a day, entertainment venues, bars and restaurants still remain closed.

The live music industry has been badly affected by the Coronavirus pandemic, with all gigs postponed and live music venues shut for the foreseeable future. This has meant that many artists have been left unable to reach and interact with their fans on a physical level, and have had to come up with innovative ways to share new music with their fans and keep them entertained and engaged during a difficult time.

One musician who has been thinking outside the box during this time is Conal Kelly. Based in his tiny home studio in Bristol, Conal has created the ’24 Hour Lockdown Project’. As part of this, Conal uses social media channels like Instagram to engage with his fans, getting them to request songs for him to cover. Not only this, but he then arranges, produces and then releases a high-quality cover, all in under 24 hours. By doing this, his fans have a choice in the music they want to see, and get to witness the creative process through Instagram stories and interactive posts.


Conal in his home studio | Source: Conal Kelly (used with permission)

The project has kept Conal’s fanbase entertained during a period of inaction. “It’s as much for their boredom as it is my own to be honest,” he said. “You don’t have to get out and do the gigs and that’s the only way to reach an audience; there’s all other avenues you can take”.

There are fears for how and when the live music industry will recover from the effects of the pandemic. “The live music industry has taken a real beating,” Conal says, “but it has forced artists and creatives to think outside the box a little bit with their approach to marketing and reaching an audience”.

BBC Bristol Upload have picked up on Conal’s project, sharing his work on their evening upload slot. This kind of platform is helping many artists during a time when getting their work out there is a lot harder, due to the lack of live gigging available. The show’s presenter Adam Crowther spoke to The Breaker, about how he thinks the lockdown has shaped the ways in which musicians are making music, and where he sees the live music industry going.

“For me what I’ve found really interesting, is how people have changed how creative they are, and it’s made people think a bit differently about how they do performances.” “Coming out of this, I can’t really see how gig venues will be able to open, really tricky for both the musicians and the gig venues moving forward”.

Whilst the exit plan for the music industry coming out of lockdown seems unclear, what is clear is how the pandemic has brought out some of the best in artists and created a new way of thinking. With pubs, venues and entertainment facilities closed until at least July, live-streams, Soundcloud and social media are more important than ever in supporting the work of musicians.

You can listen to Conal Kelly’s ’24 Hour Cover Project’ here.

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