What Harry Styles and his fans taught me about the power of livestreams

Livestreams are now a Sign of the Times, but many fans have been connecting and uniting this way for years


As the world continues to lockdown amidst the COVID-19 crisis, livestreams are becoming an increasingly popular way for artists to connect with their audience; anytime, anywhere. I’ve tuned in to Miley Cyrus’ “Bright Minds” talk show, was treated to a performance from Niall Horan live in his living room and joined MUNA for some meditation. With many of us stuck in isolation, it’s comforting to have livestreams available as methods of distraction and comfort.

Harry Styles and his fans taught me about the power of livestreams in September 2017. Harry was set to perform the first show of his debut solo tour in San Francisco. It was a big deal. I needed to know the setlist. I needed to know what he would wear on stage. I desperately wished I was there. I wasn’t, I was stuck in Australia, but thanks to some incredibly generous fans, a Periscope link was shared on Twitter and thousands of Harry Styles fans around the world were able to join and watch online.

I was miles away from San Francisco, I wasn’t even in the same time zone, but I felt like I was there. I felt like I was in that crowd watching one of my favourite artists perform, surprising us with unexpected cover songs and waving rainbow flags to deafening screams. I felt connected, a strong sense of unity. I wasn’t screaming along with the crowd, my neighbours wouldn’t have appreciated that, but my excitement matched the fans’ and internally, I was screaming too.

Harry Styles and his fans taught me that fans are able to take livestreams into their own hands. Fans no longer need to rely on a professional production to gain access to livestreams, much like what occurs for Coachella and other live music events. Fans are now sharing their experiences, breaking down barriers and creating connection on a global scale, all through the technology in the palm of their hands. It’s pretty magical.

For the entire duration of Harry’s world tour, and proving just how generous Harry’s fans are, multiple livestreams were available on Periscope. Update accounts posted videos, photos and livestream links in real-time to ensure fans were able to keep up with Harry’s ever-changing suits and incredible sets. None of this would have been possible without the fans, many of whom sacrificed their battery life and data for those of us unable to attend. Absolute angels.

Harry Styles and his fans have many qualities in common. Selflessness, inclusivity, generosity, passion and kindness. Music, particularly live music, allows them to express who they truly are, embracing others for doing the same. They welcome everyone to the party with open arms and a sparkle in their eye. The authenticity and love that radiated through the screen of my phone during the livestreams overwhelmed me. I felt like I belonged and was part of something special, something larger than life.

Harry spread his “Treat People With Kindness” message not only to fans in the arenas, but those watching at home, making us all feel safe, seen and celebrated. With every wave of a rainbow flag and encouragement to “feel free to be whoever it is you’d like to be in this room tonight”, the connection and unity amongst fans intensified. Love knows no boundaries, much like livestreams, and you could feel the love from Harry and his fans through every livestream. They proved livestreams are a powerful way to cultivate connection.

Now more than ever we need connection. Social distancing is in full effect and many of the events or activities that bring us joy, like concerts, are unable to occur in the foreseeable future. Fortunately, livestreams can fill that void. Trust in the power of the livestream. Chances are your favourite artists are missing their interactions and connections with fans just as much as you miss them. Watch all the livestreams available to you. Video call your family, your friends and most importantly… make Harry Styles proud by treating people with kindness, including yourself.

We will all get through this together. Stay home. Stay safe.

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