For the last year, much of the world has been in an enforced lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of the hobbies that people usually enjoy have been limited. In our April 2020 survey for our white paper, Virtual Voices, we asked how stressed people felt during the pandemic in relation to normal circumstances. Almost 3 out 4 of respondents (73%) claimed to feel stressed during the global pandemic compared to a usual 38%.
The youngest age group interviewed in our survey are singing more now than they usually would to calm day-to-day stresses, an increase of 8% points, compared to usual behaviour. Across all age groups, singing has been seen to provide a respite – with 80% of respondents agreeing that it provides an opportunity to escape their day-to-day lives (35% strongly agree).
Of all the quarantine activities, singing has been the foremost activity to dominate lockdowns worldwide.
In Europe, communal singalongs swept the country as residents from the Italian towns of Siena, Naples, Cagliari and Turin took to their balconies to serenade one another and sing together in solidarity. Elsewhere, the streets of Greater Manchester were alive with music as residents launched the #togetherinonevoice campaign, singing popular hits in unison.
Virtual choirs became the runaway hit of lockdown. In the six weeks following March 15th 2020, over 8,000 videos with ‘virtual choir’ in the title were uploaded to YouTube. Seasoned UK choirmaster Gareth Malone launched an initiative called ‘The Great British Home Chorus’. His plan was to bring together both amatuer and professional performers from around the UK and give them the opportunity to contribute their voices to an ambitious digital music project. The first live stream rehearsal garnered over 342K views and he went on to produce 51 videos – a mix of practice sessions, live stream practices, and pre-recorded videos.
The Beatles released a one-time-only, limited edition sing-along version of Yellow Submarine at the height of the pandemic, while the BBC brought the British nation together in an unprecedented weekly mass singalong across its five popular stations BBC Radio 1, 2, 6 Music, 1Xtra and the Asian Network.
Online karaoke, like virtual choirs, helped to encourage a sense of unity and spread the message of being alone together. From communities of individual strangers meeting “together” on Facebook in the hundred of thousands, karaoke venues inviting people to support and take part in their challenges to live streaming on TV in China.