How Music Unites Us

Music has unique ability to elicit an emotional and heartfelt response, especially during times of crisis.  COVID-19 has shown us that music transcends hardship and can provide us moments of respite, celebration, and joy amidst uncertainty.

A spike in online music streaming

Social media and online streaming platforms like TikTok and Spotify, have seen a spike in users streaming music and live video.  People are not just watching or listening to music, they are actively participating in video and music challenges.  Online music challenges are turning everyday people into artists; people are creating music as a form of self-expression and individuality.  Harvard Health research reveals how listening to music is beneficial for mental health; music helps us relieve stress, feel connected during times of social isolation, and is a mood booster.  During COVID-19, the biggest spikes in music streaming have been fitness-related, children’s music, and mood-calming playlists.

COVID-19 and the music industry

But what impact has COVID-19 had on musicians and the music industry overall?  A recent CTV News report reveals musicians are adapting to the changing economy by offering curbside and live (distance) concerts for devoted music lovers.  Music often fills a natural need for human connection and response when faced with crisis.  It can unify us and represent of our cultural identity.  With reduced accessibility to fine arts and with mass performances being cancelled this summer, you have a chance to support your local musicians by participating in “Curbside Concerts”.  Online streaming and low-cost, impromptu concerts might permanently change the music industry as more and more musicians struggle to persevere in this economy.  Plenty of opportunities are available to support your local and national musicians.  An online fundraiser put on by Edmontonian Dan Davidson, raised $53,000 in support of struggling musicians during COVID-19.

Music as a form of resistance

Music can also break down social and cultural barriers.  At AU, diversity is encouraged and celebrated and music can facilitate a sense of connection between social and cultural groups.  There are many examples online of people embracing and celebrating culture and diversity through music and dance.  As a display of unity, soldiers and protesters danced along-side each other in the streets of Atlanta.  Some protests in the U.S.  are becoming calmer and more focused on music and dance as an expression of community support and unification.

Music is often used as an expression of resistance by oppressed people groups and often ignites an emotional response from individuals.  Some protesters have reported that music has substantially “changed the atmosphere” (Kim, 2020), from hostile to more community bonding.  From a mental health perspective, music also provides a healthy physical outlet for anger and frustration.

In reflection

As we move forward, reflecting on our relationships and connection with others, remember how music can play a unifying role.  As we stand together as a student body, we can support those who are feeling discrimination and show solidarity.  In a recent online post, AU President, Dr. Neil Fassina challenges students to engage in conversations about diversity by saying, “[e]ducation plays a vital role in raising awareness about racism, and we will work to confront and reject all manifestations of discrimination.  Education raises people up and brings us together.  We embrace and celebrate the diversity of our community, our learners, and our team.”

Live Music Streaming Events During COVID-19

CBC Music: An up-to-date list of Canadian live streams to watch during COVID-19(2020, May 5)

Billboard: Live Streams & Virtual Concerts.  (2020, May 27)

The Social Distancing Festival: Livestream Listings.  (2020)


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