For new and establishing bands and artists, live gigs are an essential way to build a following - how do you share your music if people can't go out to hear it?
If you're Shoalhaven-based singer-songwriter Joe Visser, 16, the force behind a brand-new online music festival called South Coast StayList, you set about coming up with creative ways to help your music community survive.
"South Coast StayList evolved out of a public Spotify playlist I created called Keep Supporting Local," says Joe. "The playlist is made up of local bands and artists and the idea was to make sure their music was still being promoted during the pandemic, and that the arts industry was not forgotten."
The playlist proved so popular that Joe decided the next logical step was some kind of event. "A real gig was obviously out of the question, so I decided to try to put on an online, live-streamed festival."
Calling on his friend Hannah Brookes, 19, from Shoalhaven band Kim's Laundry, for help, the pair set a date - Saturday, April 18 - and began contacting local bands and artists to gauge interest.
"We reached out to around 25 acts originally, knowing that not everyone would be available to play," says Hannah. "We now have a line-up of 17 eager and very excited artists, who will each perform a 20-minute original live set via Instagram!"
The festival line-up includes a mix of new, emerging and more-established local original artists, such as Chloe Dadd, Yen Strange, Pinch Dolls, Swells, Quite Like Pete, Maya Tavener, Husband Wants a Wife, and headliners Pacific Avenue.
"We're taking part in StayList to do our part in helping one another in the creative community," says Pacific Avenue's Ben Fryer, 23. "Covid's made things really difficult for us, leading to the cancellation of our 'My Hero' tour as well as the rest of our planned live gigs. We've lost most our income and it's put a huge strain on us financially, with no government financial support offered."
The band is planning an acoustic set of old and new Pacific Avenue songs. "We can't wait to share some live music with you all once again," says Ben. "We think it's really important that we all work together with events like this to show our support for one another."
The event is supported by Tee-Pee Surfwear, a local company headed by artist and entrepreneur Tom Page.
"I love the south coast music and art scene that we have been growing over the last few years," says Tom, 20, who created the festival's branding and artwork. "The more people we have involved the bigger and better it will be. I'll always be a part of it, any way I can be."
For Joe and Hannah, who will also each play sets at South Coast StayList Festival, it's about keeping the vibrant Shoalhaven and Illawarra music scene alive.
"I'm hoping that the festival encourages people to look into the artists and bands further," says Joe. "Maybe stream some of their music - we'll create a South Coast StayList Playlist to help with that - buy some of their merch. Ultimately I hope this festival reminds people that, while it may be dormant at the moment, the music industry is alive and waiting for a comeback."
"Plus," adds Hannah, "it's going to be a whole lot of fun! It's not every day you can watch your favourite local act - or discover a new one - live from the comfort of your phone screen!"
South Coast StayList Festival will stream live on Instagram from 3.30pm on Saturday, April 18. Follow @staylistfest on Instagram and Facebook for set times, details and updates.