Live performances came to a grinding halt after Athens venues canceled or postponed shows indefinitely due to COVID-19.
Athens’ performing community, however, quickly pivoted. Soon after Mayor Kelly Girtz announced Athens-Clarke County’s shelter-in-place ordinance, Tweed Recording aired its first episode of “Live From Over There” on March 27 via Twitch.
The recording studio began livestreaming episodes so artists could have the opportunity to perform and promote their work, said Taylor Rogers, facilities and venue manager at audio production academy Tweed Recording, located on Washington Street.
Each livestream has a virtual tip jar with 100% of the proceeds benefiting the performers rather than the studio, Rogers said. There are multiple artists per episode, with each performing a roughly 30-minute set. The studio was purposeful in choosing artists who could still practice social distancing while performing, such as solo acts or artists who live in the same household.
Online performances have given artists and the community a way “to bring people together even if it is through screens,” Rogers said.
Athens-based R&B artist and University of Georgia student Convict Julie performed from her bedroom for the first episode of “Live From Over There.”
“It was kind of weird because it’s not the same as being in front of actual people and interacting with people the way that you would if you actually are at a concert venue,” Convict Julie said.
Before the pandemic hit, Convict Julie organized a solo tour up the East Coast over the summer. Every date was then canceled as the reality of the disease caused venues to close.
Convict Julie said she is at ground zero since she cannot perform live for the foreseeable future, but she has turned to social media to maintain her presence and connect with her audience.
Convict Julie also hopes to start her own livestream show to perform, showcase an “intimate look” into her music-making process and raise money for COVID-19 relief.
Grayson Hauser, an Athens-based blues musician, was in the process of making an album to be released in late spring or early summer before the pandemic hit. Hauser said it doesn’t seem possible to release the album on his original timeline but has considered recording material on his own.
Even though his album is on hold and he isn’t performing live, Hauser has remained connected to his audience through Facebook.
Rather than performing via livestream like Convict Julie and others who performed in Tweed Recording’s shows, Hauser prerecords himself playing guitar over “jam tracks” online. Hauser prefers prerecording his jam sessions because the sound quality is better and he is more comfortable than he would be live. The prerecorded video also allows people to play along with him if they want, Hauser said.
Since people are essentially stuck at home, Hauser has found other artists are more open to collaboration because they aren’t as busy. He’s seen projects of musicians recording parts separately and splicing the videos together, and has looked into it as one means of collaboration.
Although he hasn’t performed on a livestream yet, Hauser has not ruled out the option as another way to collaborate with artists. Right now he is figuring out if it’d be possible to play with other people on a livestream and getting comfortable with the technology.