The Impact of COVID-19 on Virtual Guitar Communities
An Immersive Netnography
Keywords:COVID-19, guitar communities, online communities, cultural heritage, netnography
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the music industry was already experiencing uncertainty as musicians experimented with new modes of dissemination and monetization following developments in telecommunications. The arrival of the internet instigated varying, sometimes contradictory, cultural concerns including dispersion, dissipation, preservation, development, homogenization and heterogeneity. Guitar players have traditionally formed local networks and communities in geo-located domains. However, in the twenty-first century, community domains also include virtual spaces. An immersive netnographic study investigated activities in online guitar communities from the perspective of UNESCO’s Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage. Data were analysed using the protocols of Inductive Thematic Analysis generating seven codes, regarding the impact of COVID-19 on virtual guitar communities. Without doubt, the pandemic has had serious negative effects on individual musicians’ and live venues’ income streams. However, it does seem to have acted as a catalyst for fresh vigour within online communities seeking new ways to connect. With more artists sharing and interacting, the result could be a richer environment in the future. However, without a strong recognition of cultural responsibility this richness may result in a homogenous melting pot. Alternatively, it may also bring to light cultural expressions previously suppressed.
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