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Innovation Through Virtual Music Events

Music Innovation

May 1, 2020

The world around is changing at a rapid pace, but one thing that remains constant is music. The panelists on the Innovation Through Music webinar reminded us that people turn to music in times of celebration and tragedy. Music is our expression and it will bring us through the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Launching Virtual Music Events

The panelists on this webinar included Maestro Joseph Giunta, Music Director and Conductor of the Des Moines Symphony, artist Tony Bohnenkamp with DSMTV Live and jazz vocalist Max Wellman, founder of Noce. Each of these panelists have been innovative in their ability to adapt to today’s climate.

Tony Bohnenkamp began the discussion sharing that he and other artists began DSMTV Live when St. Patrick’s Day gigs started to cancel. They wanted to continue to do the work they love, sharing their music and so they created this new platform. DSMTV Live is Des Moines' newest online streaming platform. It livestreams performances by local musicians from their Greater Des Moines (DSM) studio utilizing multiple locations and camera views, multi-track audio and light and visual production. From March 17 to April 13, DSMTV Live has reached 200,000 individuals and been funded through Venmo donations.

Maestro Joseph Giunta shared an inspirational message for viewers about the power of music in our lives and then went into detail about the Des Moines Symphony’s recent work, including a DMSO at Home Series showcasing their musicians performing live from their homes. These live, specialized concerts have included dueling violins, harpists, flutes and more. Additionally, they’ve used video to conduct a deep dive discussion on classical composers and modern platforms like Spotify to share music.

Max Wellman discussed placing Noce on a schedule with live virtual concerts held regularly, typically on Wednesdays and Saturdays. He and his team are committed to continuing to get music to the DSM community. Since launching this virtual series, the average number of views is higher than a typical full house and viewers are generously supporting this work which helps Noce continue to employ musicians. Although they hadn’t started the year planning any digital content, they’ve jumped in and can see that it was a good move. The virtual concerts have helped Noce expand and reach new audiences.

Each panelist shared that although nearly all live events have been cancelled through Sunday, June 14, they are still scheduling week to week and not weeks in advance. As the world changes, so do schedules and group comfort levels.

Virtual Platforms

Facebook Live seems to be the primary platform for these virtual music experiences. Consumers can find links through emails and websites, and everyone is exploring alternatives such as YouTube or their own website. They all agreed that Facebook provides a simple platform for them and, as a bonus, allows for live comments which gives the musician a way to connect with their audience.

DMSO at Home

Not everyone has jumped on the virtual bandwagon. Many groups are not doing anything at all online in hopes of just outlasting the pandemic. On the other hand, many venues have turned into a production studio for the virtual concerts. Those who are trying new things to survive the pandemic are showing adaptability while embracing creativity, but a key to their success is their IT team members.

If you are looking for virtual event suggestions from these experts, Maestro suggested that you check out Yo-Yo Ma, although in times of stress he likes to go back to modern classics like Sinatra, Fitzgerald and Bennet. They bring a sense of nostalgia for simpler times. Wellman suggests taking a peek at the work from the Civic Music Association. They’ve recently showcased a variety of artists and offer virtual happy hours with musicians like Emmet Cohen and Hannah Marks. Bohnenkamp shared he is loving all of the local musicians performing in their homes.

The Future of Music Events

What does the future look like? No one really knows. It’s likely that after the pandemic we’ll continue to see virtual events but nothing will ever replace live music experiences. Musicians perform at their best with a live audience and the energy an audience brings can’t be matched. Maestro believes that when we are in the clear, people will flock to events and concerts.

While the virtual events are creating more awareness of Iowa’s arts and culture scene, we will need to transition again when DSM businesses begin to re-open on a limited scale and on a full scale. Venues are crying out for specific guidance on what to do when they re-open.

Rallying Around DSM Event Venues

What can we do as a community to help weather the storm here? Wellman shared that it’s important for the community to realize that musicians are a vital part of our local economy. Many businesses benefit when a live music performance occurs. This vital piece of our community needs to return. Bohnenkamp added that the best thing you can do doesn’t cost a dime. Tell people about what you enjoy, what’s going on and the music you love. Finally, Maestro reminded the audience that music is food for our souls. Let’s continue to share music and bring our community together.

See the entire webinar below:


You can count on The Partnership to continue to share accurate and fact-based updates as well. See more on COVID-19 here.

Colleen Murphy

Colleen Murphy is former downtown events director at the Greater Des Moines Partnership and blogs about major events in Downtown Des Moines (DSM). Murphy oversaw the World Food & Music Festival, DSM Book Festival, Out to Lunch and Holiday Promenade in the Historic East Village, as well as worked as the sponsorship manager for the Des Moines Arts Festival® and assisted with sponsorship for the Downtown Des Moines Farmers' Market.