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Digital concert formats to be examined following impact of pandemic

Posted on 17 December 2020

Researchers at the University of York are examining the effects of digital concerts on music audiences following the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

The research team are looking for 5,000 participants to attend their digital concert

In the first study of its kind, the team, which includes researchers from Zeppelin University, the Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics in Frankfurt am Main, and the University of Bern in Switzerland, will look at how classical music concerts and cultural events can take place in the virtual space in a way that best appeals to the public. 

The project includes the staging of a virtual concert by a renowned string quintet, comprised of Alban Gerhardt, Baiba Skride, Brett Dean, Micha Afkham and Gergana Gergova, playing works by Ludwig van Beethoven, Johannes Brahms, and Brett Dean.  Audiences at the digital concert will be surveyed at six different variations of the concert to address different elements of their experience.

Cultural impact

Dr Hauke Egermann, from the University of York’s Department of Music, said: “Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, digital concert formats have been the only way for cultural institutions and performers to reach their audience. The industry has suffered financially, and audiences have missed out on this important cultural experience. 

“The format is not totally alien to the industry, however, as more and more concert halls and festivals have developed audio-visual live streaming offers to launch new business models and reach a wider audience, particularly for classical concerts. 

“The pandemic has changed the perspective on digital concerts, and posed new questions about the purpose of them and the impact they have.  These new formats are unlikely to fade away post-pandemic, so we must try to understand how they are working to ensure their effectiveness into the future.” 

Participants needed

The team are looking for 5,000 participants to attend the digital classical concert from countries around the world. The experiences that are reported from variations of the concert will contribute to an analysis on the optimal ways for future-proofing both the innovations in digital concert offerings, the success of the industry, and the value it adds to audiences. 

Dr. Martin Tröndle, from Zeppelin University, said: “Many streaming offers have emerged out of sheer necessity in the wake of the pandemic. Concert providers have felt under pressure to rapidly digitise as this transformation continues to assert itself as a cultural practice and social norm. 

“How to optimise this experience is an important question for artists, organisers, and cultural policymakers alike, and we hope this research will contribute to finding the best solutions for all concerned.” 

For further information on the project - funded by the Volkswagen Foundation and the Aventis Foundation - and how to become an audience member in the research experiment, visit: 

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About this research

The research is funded by the Volkswagen Foundation and the Aventis Foundation and can be viewed here: