By Chloe-Jean Grey, ℅ Mr & Mrs Grey
Three months in and it is becoming increasingly difficult to ignore the impact that COVID-19 has had on the music industry. Since the UK went into lockdown, we’ve seen the closure of concert venues and hospitality spots that welcome everything from emerging artists to global performers, leaving the industry on the brink of collapse.
There’s uncertain road ahead for performers; with no guidelines as to when venues will begin to reopen and a wave of uncertainty as to what the future looks like for the industry. Around 72% of people working in the world of music are self-employed, with many entertaining at grassroots venues, pubs and jazz clubs alike – all of which are facing great financial struggles due to the effects of the pandemic.
While many performers have turned to resources such as Instagram and Facebook for live streams as a way to keep them doing what they love, looking at the bigger picture, it just isn’t the same. Here, Chloe-JeanGrey, co-founder of ℅ Mr & Mrs Grey, a husband and wife live entertainment duo that take bookings for over 30 musicians and plan large scale events – from weddings to corporate dinners – shines the light on the future of live music in the new normal.
“Having spent each Thursday, Friday and Saturday playing live in restaurants, bars and hotels for the past eight years, we’ve seen the highs, the lows and the trends across the entire hospitality industry from the customer’s perspective.
With all the new regulations and uncertainty for the future, are you, like us, concerned about the customer experience? Will reduced covers make a difference to the atmosphere and are you feeling pressured to conform to the regulations whilst making sure that your customers still enjoy their experience?
Like everyone else, we’ve spent the last few months at home in isolation and around the family dining table, and what’s become increasingly obvious from shared conversations, video calls, social media, is that folks are climbing the walls to get out and socialise.
But realistically this will still be approached with caution, it would be foolish to assume things will go back to ‘normal’ straight away. After all, they’re already taking a risk by committing to coming to your establishment. They’re putting their trust in you to not only serve them well, but guarantee their safety.
Many companies are approaching re-opening with hygienic gusto and are actioning essential social distancing measures to safeguard customers. However, along with peace of mind, does this also make the customer feel as if they’re already infected? Is it something that further dehumanises the experience of being out and about?
Yes, it’s important to stay safe – but it’s also important to ensure you’re providing your customers with a memorable experience that they’ll want to repeat, rather than a meal in a hospital canteen. It will be very easy to turn a restaurant into a sterile and impersonal venue with PPE visors, one way systems and no physical contact.
What we must not lose is ATMOSPHERE. That’s where we come in. We’re taking the responsibility to remind them of the human element. The buzz of being out, socialising and enjoying a beautiful meal whilst still ensuring the customers are safe and well.
Live music provides a talking point. With significant drops in capacity in order to comply with SD rules, for a while at least, restaurants and bars will no longer be the bustling hubs of excitement they were. Therefore, it’s down to us to provide a soundtrack to their evening and to provide an ambience they’ll remember and recommend.
Let’s get the customer involved. We can ensure each table has a card with our social handles on so that they may remotely request songs, dedications to their partners or special occasions etc. Anything to bring everybody together for a shared experience. After so long distancing themselves, people will want to share in the happiness of others.
Of course, every venue will have teething problems as we attempt to catapult ourselves into an entirely different system and way of serving people. But we need to shift focus onto something entirely positive and beneficial for the ambiance of the establishment and overall experience of the customer.
That is live music. If only you could buy atmosphere……turns out, you can.”