“The year is 2020, the dawn of a new decade, an exciting new era in the art world, and a promising new beginning for the global music industry. Online platforms dedicated to humanity’s social nature and propagating the influence of music on urban culture are increasing quite steadily. Consumption of art in general is at all-time high, and with the world slowly reaching the imminent age of 5G, there’s no slowing it down. But on the horizon lies a bad omen, something so unique yet so inconspicuous, no one could foresee the crippling effect it would have on humanity’s ‘daily routine’. The Novel Coronavirus strain COVID-19 literally brought the whole world to a standstill in less that 12 weeks, and 5 years later, the events of early 2020 still resonate in our memories and the new norms we were forced to adopt in order to move past the 21st century’s first global pandemic…”
The world we live in today — now — is nothing anyone expected to be going through. And even if you nailed all the calculations and forecasts from scouring global news outlets and medical journal articles, it still is surreal to be living through a time where life itself is but a dry cough or face-palm away from dissipating. Going into a new decade was an exhilarating thought: everyone was looking forward to being overly productive, relationships were looking propitiously sustainable, and selfcare was at an all-time high! The aptly monikered “20Plenty” was everyone’s chance to rectify past faults and not-so-ideal life decisions with not only a new year, but a whole new decade. Renewed focus was more than ubiquitous, what with 20/20 vision being the ultimate measure of crisp vision but also ‘the year of our Lord’. Growth was everywhere, in every industry, aided by social media’s propagation of the actuality of a Global Village. Not only were brands more active on social platforms and recognizing their various stakeholders, but social awareness was increasingly becoming a considerable part of their business models. Facebook’s early acquisition of Whatsapp & Instagram put Mark Zuckerberg in a unique position to reap all the glorious benefits of the Digital Age of business, and essentially created not just a social media moghul but a pioneer as well.
Instagram — Facebook’s private school alumni cousin, of course — cashed in the most, having introduced and monetized many of the features used by the best-known & widely used social media platforms today. And just like the next individual seeing opportunity in the new decade, it’s safe to assume the big shots at ‘Insta’ had a lot more tricks up their net-based sleeves, though they probably had no idea these would come to them in the form of a global emergency. If you’ve been living like Patrick Starfish, COVID-19 is a respiratory illness that originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan towards the very end of 2019 & hit the world like a freight train early this year. It was classified as a Global Public Health Emergency on January 30th, effectively forcing humanity into their homes for the first time in recent memory. Cases increase every day, and so do fatalities, but with a cure for this very unique ailment a distant dream, it’s looking like we’ll all be stuck in our humble abodes for quite some time. By comparison, Instagram is the one social platform (arguably next to Twitter) where celebrities actively interact with each other and the rest of the world in the public eye. In addition to feeding the vanity of the human race, earning the occasional penny from all kinds of trades has become Insta’s niche, that and exploiting how invested fandoms have become in the life & times of their favourite musician extraordinaire or film icon.
With most of the human population practising social distancing and retreating to their homes in order to stunt the proliferation of COVID-19, the entertainment industry has become one of the hardest hit economic sectors of the world. Being largely reliant on events brimming with social interaction for a large part of its income, entertainment suffered a large dent on the forecasts because people are no longer able to attend music concerts or festivals, attend movie premieres or go to the cinema for their favourite new blockbuster, even going to the local comedy club has become a high risk activity. Which brings us to the enterprising Instagram and how they’ve inadvertently capitalized on a worldwide disaster. When news first broke about social distancing being the one of most effective methods of prevention against COVID-19, celebrities — admittedly compelled by modern social awareness standards — took to their various social media profiles and beamed messages to their followers informing them on the state of affairs as well as giving credit to the frontliners in this unconventional war: health workers. Realizing the gravity of the situation, most of these high profile individuals started offering free live sit-downs with their fans. Musicians would jump on their Instagram Live in the comfort of their homes and put on a free concert to help their fans cope with missed tour dates that don’t seem to be making a return anytime soon.
The most (in)famous of the ‘IG Lives’ as they’ve been dubbed has to be rapper Tory Lanez “Quarantine Radio”, where he invites all types of eccentric characters onto his live to showcase how they’re dealing with their lives being brought to a halt (some admittedly more eccentric that others). A very diverse spectrum of individuals has graced the Quarantine Radio waves since it came to being, from famous faces like Wiz Khalifa and Drake’s record-shattering feature, to the occasional exuberant fan with a naughty predisposition. Quarantine Radio has shown that our appetite for excitement and entertainment is still ravenous especially in our isolation, and has inspired artistes that were otherwise reluctant to let more of their fans into their lives to reconsider. Every week seems to bring with it numerous live performances from an array of musicians & Q’n’A sessions by well-known & high profile individuals. Global television networks have also accordingly adapted to these new conditions, with some of their shows already conducting on-net interviews with their target guest demographics.
Content creation in general has seen a spike across the globe, the highlight reel brought to us in full 4K on the fairly new TikTok platform where #challenges have become a global sensation and a chance for the ordinary user to glam up or show off in whatever fashion they see fit. The Youtuber population grows steadily every day and gives us fresh new perspectives one wouldn’t have expected under the normal status quo. And yet all roads seem to lead back to Instagram as the core of it all: the congregation of all the relevant social influencers, a perfect mix of social interaction, business, and content creation. Instagram has not only been positioned as a hub of global activity by the powers that be, it has created for itself a self-sustaining & constantly evolving ecosystem that could very well give the world the blueprints to its first ever concert-streaming platform. What a time to be alive indeed.