BBC Intro

How to… maintain momentum without playing live

We asked BBC Introducing's Abbie McCarthy to give us her top tips for maintaining momentum and growing your fanbase whilst unable to get out and gig.

Maya Radcliffe
  • By Maya Radcliffe
  • 5 Aug 2020
  • min read

The coronavirus pandemic has been disastrous for the live music industry. It's amplified issues related to the way we consume music and how artists can make money from their work when they're unable to play live. 

However, for a lot of emerging acts there’s little financial gain from gigging, but it can often be the most effective way to build and maintain a fanbase. Whether it’s through support slots, or headlining the backroom of the local pub, performing live can feel like the most important, and most rewarding, part. But all is not lost. 

We asked BBC Music Introducing’s Abbie McCarthy to give us her golden rules for staying connected and keeping the fire burning when you can’t see your fans face-to-face.

Live streams  

Bring that gig experience to people at home! Think about streaming across different platforms on various days/times to reach as much of your fanbase as possible. Make the stream interactive so it feels really special and in the moment, maybe your fans can help you pick the setlist as you go along?  

Newcastle popstar and BBC Music Introducing favourite L.Devine had a load of live dates cancelled so created her URL tour, the virtual run kicked off on Instagram, then headed to Twitter, Facebook, TikTok and YouTube over two weeks.  

Q&As with fans 

Music fans always want to ask their favourite artists questions to find out more about them, they want all the juice! Online Q&As are a great, fun way to spend time with your fans and to all feel connected. You can see how BBC Introducing has done this with Joy Crookes, Mahalia and more over on our Instagram

Collaborate with others 

That artist you’ve always wanted to work with may just have the time to now, so reach out and try to make it happen! Whether it’s writing together over Zoom, working on a remix or creating an awesome cover. 

Glass Animals did a series of quarantine covers over on their IGTV, my favourite being with the very talented Arlo Parks. Together they did Hotline Bling by Drake as you’ve never heard it before!  

Learn and absorb 

As they say every day is a school day! There are so many great resources out there you can really learn from – webinars, YouTube tutorials, in-depth interviews, podcasts, books, behind the scenes documentaries and more. You could even spend time with an album you really love, deconstructing what makes it so brilliant and in turn inspiring your own creative process.  

Don’t stop releasing music! 

The world feels a little like it’s on pause right now but this means people have more time than usual to really digest new releases, so give everyone some great music to blast out and enjoy in lockdown. This is the strangest times any of us have ever faced, but often obstacles can be the greatest catalyst for creativity. Express how you’re feeling and release something your audience can relate to and get lost in.   

London MC Little Simz channelled her energy into writing and releasing a new killer mixtape in lockdown. I’ve had it on on repeat!

Challenge yourself  

Anyone know what day it is? Days are merging into each other at the moment, so it’s a good idea to make yourself a schedule each week to give you some sense of routine. Set yourself challenges to push yourself creatively.   

Practice makes perfect  

Write, play, produce, repeat! Spend time trying different ways of songwriting, improve your guitar playing, download some production software and learn how to use it. Use your days to finesse your musical skills and just try things you’ve never done before.  

Make sure you’re uploading your music to BBC Introducing.  

Music videos  

You can still make music videos during lockdown, you’ve just got to think outside the box. Animation, fan videos, green screen, vintage gig footage, your family doing a dance routine, there are plenty of options!  

I love this one from Scottish indie band Vistas, a fun video featuring lots of their fans... 


Show some love to fellow musicians and independent music venues on your socials. It’s a hard time for them too.  

Self care 

Everything going on at the moment can easily take its toll on your mental health, so remember to give yourself time to relax too. Get on a face mask, have a glass of wine, binge your favourite series on Netflix, or all of the above, whatever works for you! 

Follow Abbie McCarthy on Twitter and Instagram