With people mostly spending their time during lockdown in their homes, it was inevitable that entertainment services like music and movies would see a massive boost in demand. In Australia, the audience seems to have developed a soft spot for classical music according to a survey by radio station ABC Classic.
The survey, conducted in October, showed that ABC Classic had almost a million people tuning in every single week in five Australian cities — Sydney, Adelaide, Perth, Melbourne, and Brisbane. This is the highest number since records began to be collected. Melbourne saw the biggest growth in audience numbers. In Victoria, 120,000 more people were listening to ABC Classic weekly compared to the time prior to the pandemic.
Interestingly, Australians seemed to have cut down the time they spend on stations broadcasting music of other genres. It is only ABC Classic that seems to have attracted a new audience. In addition, classical music organizations are also reporting a strong audience base for their online initiatives. So why are Australians getting more interested in classical music?
“Listeners tell us how much they value the sense of community that they get from ABC Classic, whether spending time with our presenters, thinking of loved ones with our ‘musical hug’ each morning, or hearing from fellow Australians with our daily dedication in Drive. The ability to connect with music-lovers around the country is particularly special when we’re so isolated… It’s been a year of constant news, and we know that many listeners join us to escape the news cycle, and to immerse themselves in a different reality,” Toby Chadd, ABC Classic’s Content Manager, said to ABC News.
The COVID-19 pandemic has essentially brought a sense of gloom and doom to society. Under such circumstances, classical music can sound bright, hopeful, and full of life. It is also possible that many people who are suffering from anxiety and depression due to the lockdowns and restrictions find respite in classical music. In fact, several studies have repeatedly affirmed that listening to classical music brings a host of benefits in terms of mental health.
Research has shown that classical music can lower the cortisol (stress hormone) levels in the body. Another study found that listening to music increases feelings of relaxation by 11 percent and blood flow by 26 percent. A study conducted on 180 patients discovered that those who listened to classical Turkish or Western music and natural sounds saw their anxiety levels decline. Given these benefits, it isn’t a wonder that many Australian’s are tuning in to hear classical music for some comfort in these times.
The pandemic effect
The COVID-19 pandemic has triggered several changes in the music industry. Live performances have been completely avoided and replaced by digital streaming. Though the streaming initiatives have been a success, there are concerns as to whether this will provide the same level of revenues as live performances.
Plus, some experts believe that the communal nature of live music will be so attractive to many people that there will be a huge demand for live performances once the pandemic restrictions start to ease. For the time being, many music groups are actively seeking donors and contributions to sustain themselves. Some have also asked for government funding. Several music schools have switched to online platforms as a medium of instruction.