The novel coronavirus, which has almost 3 million confirmed cases worldwide, has forced mass business closures, lay-offs, and event cancelations, casting a sea of doubt on the resilience of certain sectors.
While the physical limitations of stay-at-home orders have hampered business for entertainers and other service-based industries, there are already signs of innovation and ingenuity in the face of a looming economic downturn. As the Founder, CEO, and Chairman of GUION PARTNERS INC., a management company that works with various high-profile clients from the media, technology, sports, and entertainment sectors, Lindsay Guion is feeling optimistic.
With a steady rise in live streaming technology, from concerts to theatre performances, Lindsay Guion is here to share his insight into how the pandemic could revolutionize the way the industry works.
How has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted your industry?
As public gatherings of more than 10, 20, 50, and 100 people were being canceled (depending on State restrictions), it cast a long, ominous shadow on our industry. An aspect I love most about my job is bringing different groups of individuals together. There is an in-person connection that could never be entirely replaced. However, the pandemic has been a major wake up call to almost everyone. While I worry about the recovery of the sector once this is all over, I do think that this has highlighted an area of improvement for the industry in general. I am optimistic that these are just growing pains, and I look forward to seeing what the future holds for the entertainment sector.
What are some examples of innovation that you have seen recently?
There is no shortage of it at the moment. However, live streaming technology is one of the most prominent and useful tools that entertainers and media are using to connect with their audiences. For many performing artists, whose primary income relies on booking live gigs, live streaming has been a way to continue to engage audiences in real-time. For many performing artists, this has allowed a much closer connection to their fan base, as they can respond to questions and comments directly. Hundreds of DJ’s are streaming live sets. The APRA Music Awards for songwriters will be live-streamed for the whole world to watch. It is a reminder that where there is a will, there is a way.
Do you think this is a trend that will stick around once the pandemic is over?
The pandemic has revealed to those of us in service and event-based industries that there needs to be a plan b, and technology has provided us with that. I believe that live streaming platforms and video call applications will continue to evolve as demand pushes further innovation. While these platforms have only been an additional service to most content producers, they are now the primary. As a result, certain needs, desires, and requests from users have started coming to light. Technology is an underutilized resource in this industry, and I think it is in the best interest of every active participant to try and adapt to these new platforms to continue to innovate and expand their thinking.
What are you hearing from your clients during this difficult time?
I hear messages of hope. While events remain canceled, and stay-at-home orders are extended, this period has allowed a lot of our clients to take a step back from business as usual, and re-evaluate their priorities. In some ways, it is the break we all needed, it is just deeply unfortunate that it has come at such a high price. It is part of the reason that taking breaks can be essential to innovation, being surrounded by it, day in and day out, can leave us blind to the bigger picture. I know that the initial reaction from my clients was worry, but as that has subsided, we are coming up with dozens of new ideas to continue to engage audiences.
What advice would you give others in the entertainment industry right now?
Only when we have our backs against the wall are we called to greatness and excellence. Do not let this moment define you, define who you are in this moment. At every turn, be positive, and look for new possibilities and collaborations in every interaction. Try to manage your limiting beliefs. If you have your mind and heart open to opportunity, you will find an opportunity. If you have your mind and heart closed off and focused on the problem, you will only see problems. It is important to know that you should never be afraid to ask for help, and we should lean on one another during this difficult time.
Are you finding you are optimistic about the future?
I am most definitely optimistic about the future. As a global community, I think we are coming together in a way we never have before. Neighbors are reaching out to check-in, friends are dropping off care packages, and many individuals are sharing messages of hope. Of course, I wish this outbreak had never happened and that we could have come together without fighting a common enemy. However, we cannot change where we are right now, and we must focus on what we can control. I have a belief in the creativity and ingenuity of our global community to pivot and innovate during this difficult time.