Dark Days Paved the Way for New Horizons in the New Year

By: Mahnoor Ali

“One day the world stopped // without any warning // spring didn’t know that it had to wait // showed up not even a minute late” starts the song “Life Goes On” by BTS, which they released as a beacon of hope for their fans to get through the pandemic. 

In fact, their entire new album, BE, was an impromptu piece written entirely inspired by world events in 2020. As they are known to have said many times, this record would not have happened if it wasn’t for the pandemic. 

So what is “Life Goes On” saying about the state of the world, besides the obvious title? BTS reminds us that while life as we knew it may have halted, the spring still came (and went) and much like that, there is always something to be done about it. People all around the world picked up new interests or rediscovered old ones: light was found in the darkest of days. Much like BTS themselves, creatives everywhere adapted to the altered way of life and made do. 

Sentiments aside, this pioneering agenda can be seen through statistics as well. According to podcastinsights.com, there were around 525,000 active podcasts in 2018. By January of 2020, there were 850,000. Now, there are over 1,750,000 podcasts to be listened to in the first couple days of 2021. 

The number of podcast episodes skyrocketed from 18.5 million in 2018 to over 41.9 million on Apple Podcasts alone by December of 2020, according to thepodcasthost.com. Sounds like some people got bored of binge watching Netflix. 

That’s not to say that these individuals were speaking into the void; 2020 was the first time that over 100 million Americans listened to at least one podcast each month. There is clearly an audience.

Whether it be boredom or inspiration, the circumstances we were collectively thrown into have changed the already evolving creator culture. As the last remaining exclusivity of art lifted like a façade, the world saw that being a creative is for anyone after all. Art was made accessible again. 

You didn’t need to have expensive stadiums for your concerts or your fashion shows: a bedroom backdrop on Google Meet became the new venue. Podcasters didn’t need a soundproof studio when they could just order the right equipment with the click of a button. Open mic gatherings became zoom calls, and it wasn’t seen as tacky at all. 

Analyzed by artreview.com, “Digital networks, previously seen as distinct from or sometimes even antagonistic to the interests of the in situ artworld, have become the locus for reorganising and sustaining relationships between artists, organisations and audiences.” 

In a world already dominated by streaming, live concerts became virtual, via various platforms, and even borderline fantasy with collaborations such as the Fortnite and Travis Scott event. Award shows went on to become prerecorded. In fact, not only did the advent of technology make it easier to see artists perform amid a pandemic, but the stakes went higher. Set designs mimicked virtual reality and broke the barrier of what is real and what is augmented. It was an experience that everyone behind a screen felt together.  

People not only “made do,” but became more involved than ever before. Collaborations became pivotal. Also stated by artreview.com, anyone that can be involved in creative media became more connected in, “collaboration, which is to say the facility to work with others in ways that are temporary but mutually beneficial and that don’t rely on already established structures but on inventing new ones.” 

2020 was the first year that high fashion models and superstars had “FaceTime photoshoots.” As if all the years building a distance between the amateur and the professional didn’t matter anymore. The line between a celebrity and a self-made influencer became as blurred as ever. Classicist values went up in smoke and ideas spread like… well, dare I say a virus?

People all over the internet got creative and shared what they made. If there is anything to triumph from a difficult time, it is art.

And if there is ever a time to get started on your own project, it is now. We’ve seen people start from absolutely nothing and let innovation be their driving force. We’ve seen boundaries pushed, just as well as we’ve seen a resurgence of simple media. With more and more products becoming available to use at beginner levels, and people teaching each other through avenues like YouTube, indulging in a creative hobby or new skill is easier than ever. 

So maybe you sat around and watched the seasons come and go for much of 2020, which is completely fine, but maybe you juggled the idea of starting your own passion project. Now is the time to try it out.