A live stream fundraiser initially started between friends has propelled into a leading live music campaign, powered by a daily line-up of DJs, producers and artists
The hospitality industry is one of the hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic, with the widespread closure of venues bringing the main revenue streams for artists, promoters, hosts and planners to a halt.
As one such sufferer of the industry's collapse, events producer Hannah Ford has found that the cancelling of live events has effectively put all of her work opportunities on hold. As her new reality set in, her mother was stuck in Rishikesh, India, worried whether she could make it home to her family. On top of this, Hannah realised her father, an NHS doctor, would be one of those on the frontline in the fight against this pandemic. This multi-layered onslaught drove her from fear and anxiety to the eventual realisation that although her worries were justified, there were those who were facing a much more serious amount of danger and instability.
'In comparison to what a lot of people are going through, I have a lot.' Hannah says. 'So that kind of changed my perspective.'
After initial plans to help out at Tottenham Food Bank, Hannah decided to take matters into her own hands and start her own campaign to support the wider cause. 'I thought, why don't I just do something myself instead? I already knew quite a few people anyway from booking acts for work.'
Borne from this was #LIVEFORLOVE, a streamed series of live music from some of Hannah's friends in aid of UK food banks. Seven weeks down the line, and #LIVEFORLOVE has surpassed £30,000 in donations, offering a daily line-up of some of the biggest names in the industry.
'It started off as just my friends, and it's escalated into radio shows, agencies, venues, festivals – loads of stuff!'
100% of the campaign's donations will go to The Trussell Trust, who run the 1200 food bank centres in the UK. They provide emergency food and support to those locked in poverty, who no doubt will be on the verge of considerable turmoil given the current context.
Sarah Bentley is the founder and project director of Made In Hackney, a community cookery school that makes healthy, sustainable, local food available to society's most vulnerable. Their new COVID initiative sees the delivery of over 500 meals per day. Sarah outlined the importance of the money that fundraisers like #LIVEFORLOVE raise:
'The need for emergency food services due to COVID-19 is astronomical and it's nationwide. People that were managing OK are now finding themselves in dire straits and unable to feed their households. Food banks and emergency meal services such as Made In Hackney are a critical way of stopping a mass tragedy becoming even greater due to people not being able to feed themselves. Donations from the general public are crucial. If all those whose finances have not been greatly affected chip in to look after those whose have been affected, we'll get through this crisis stronger, together.'
With packed line-ups announced at the start of each week, #LIVEFORLOVE has had some landmark moments. Veteran selector Artwork's planned four-hour set turned into an 11-hour marathon, raising over £5000 (with legendary DJ Harvey donating £1000). His green screen set-up allowed for the broadcast of fans watching the stream who were dancing in their own living rooms.
The party didn't stop there, with modern mashup artists Swing & Bass hosting a two-day take-over, which included sets from three-time UK DJ Champion JFB, World DJ Champion Mr Switch, DJ Chris Tofu MBE, WBBL and a host of others.
As well as this, Sheffield's Apricot Ballroom played a 24-hour set from 10am to 10am, which is something only a handful of DJs have done before. And if all of that wasn't enough entertainment, uplifting disco and funk duo TWOGOOD held a mirrored Zoom feed, where fans could join the action.
With a plethora of highlights rife with creativity and enjoyment, #LIVEFORLOVE has now generated a momentum that shows no sign of stopping. This weekend's roster includes a Saturday takeover from FLY Open Air, the mammoth Edinburgh dance music festival. They offer sets from Eclair Fifi, Harrison BDP, Theo Kottis, Jackmaster, Jasper James, and more.
Tom Ketley, the founder of FLY Open Air, says; 'I can't see, logically, how a socially distanced environment could exist in live music in the near future. Because of this, we've pivoted and launched a merch store and a series of live streams. We wanted to do something for our customers that would actively engage them and give them more entertainment in the house. Two of the DJs are going to be playing sets from the festival site itself at Hopetoun House.
Although the government have responded well with things like the furlough scheme, a lot of people still fall through the cracks. A lot more people will have to access food banks as a result of missing out on these schemes. We thought it was something we should help with.'
With the upward trajectory that #LIVEFORLOVE is now on, the work behind the scenes becomes ever more crucial to the success of the campaign. William Wallace, who joined forces with Hannah at the beginning of the journey, has praised the work of those behind the scenes:
'Hannah reached out to me a few months ago asking for some support – it was the same week I was placed on furlough so the timing was pretty spot on. We've worked together on a bunch of events before which has helped. There's a solid group of us behind the scenes all working hard to support an important cause in these critical times. Thank you to everyone who has donated and been involved so far!'
What becomes clear at this stage is that #LIVEFORLOVE has achieved more than just the money raised. The nature of live streaming and the innovation from those involved has manifested a sense of community and generosity between artists and fans. With marathon sets, green screens and fan interaction, #LIVEFORLOVE has spotlighted the spirit of the music industry – even at its darkest hour, the songs keep playing.