Instagram Live has been an integral tool within the music community as artists and fans find ways to fight boredom in the midst of stay at home orders. For many artists who are typically used to busy days filled with interviews and live concerts, the challenge of now being stuck at home has brought about newfound creativity for some, who have used social media as a way to engage with fans and initiate fun discussions. Many have started chats with fans and live shows from their homes, but recently, some have found ways to stand out from the pack.
On one odd night on March 25, legendary hip hop producers Timbaland and Swizz Beatz decided to have a competition in which they’d host a live session and go through rounds of sharing instrumentals they have production credits on. What the two didn’t know at the time was that they founded what would become the highly viewed quarantine battle series Versuz, and inspired others to make their own successful livestreams.
The initial battle was filled with fun moments. Timbaland showcased career production highlights such as “One in a Million” by Aaliyah and Beyoncé’s “Drunk in Love” while Swizz replied with hits like Kanye West’s “Famous” and “Ruff Ryders’ Anthem” by Ruff Ryders. Songs were played for 90 seconds, trash talking filled the breaks in between, and it was ultimately the fans’ post-battle discussions that decided the outcome. After a couple of more successful battles, Versuz experienced a peak with producers Scott Storch and Mannie Fresh, who at one point had over 200,000 viewers at one time in a battle that featured major late 90’s hits like “Back That Azz Up” and “Cry Me a River.” This peak proved the success of a small idea that turned into something that hundreds of thousands of people looked towards as an entertainment outlet.
Another successful series has been Tory Lanez’s Quarantine Radio. The Toronto rapper had produced a string of successful livestreams during quarantine in his house with friends, featuring many hilarious moments, fans and celebrity guests. But in late March, he accomplished something few could have imagined for an artist who wasn’t nearly as famous as some of his peers. On a live stream that featured high profile guests like The Weeknd, Drake and Justin Bieber, he broke Taylor Swift’s record for the most people with well over 300,000 viewers to be on Instagram Live at once. Ever since, Quarantine Radio has become a must watch event for many fans. Lanez hosts talent competitions that include anything from singing, twerking or finding ways to surprise him, a moment of his show that never goes without a trending topic.
The most recent of these successful live streams came in the form of a charitable effort. Producer Diddy joined in by starting a dance-a-thon in order to raise money for COVID-19 relief. With the help of his children, they spent all of Easter Sunday on the livestream and brought on guests to dance with them such as LeBron James, Lizzo and Jennifer Lopez. Overall, the showcase raised $4 million for health care workers to provide help to the underserved communities of the country.
In light of the current pandemic, it’s been interesting to see the shift that has occurred in how artists find new ways to entertain. With sports, concerts and movie premiers canceled for the time being, the way artists have stepped up to fill the gap is a reminder of their creativity amid the common struggle fans around the world face while being stuck at home.