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Italian musician Davide Rossi on isolation and live-streaming

Cristina Diciu May 4, 2020

Davide Rossi is an Italian violinist, producer and arranger and can play every string instrument there is. Best known for his collaborations with Coldplay, Goldfrapp, The Verve and many others, the Grammy-winning violinist talks to Cristina Diciu about working in isolation and music streaming.

Because of the way he works, Rossi said isolation hadn’t affected him that much. In fact, he has been working remotely for the past 11 to 12 years, proving how versatile music production has become.

How have you adapted your work to the current situation?

Rossi: “I didn’t change much. Usually artists, singers, songwriters and producers send me their songs or material for me to work on. Then I record myself on Logic, which is my preferred music interface.

“When the job is done, in other words when everyone is happy with the results, I prepare my files and sub-mixes to send to the producer or mixing engineer to finish the song.”

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Rossi collaborates with artists on Skype, FaceTime and via email. He records himself polyphonically, a technique that turns him into a one-man string orchestra. When it comes to routine, the pandemic hasn’t altered it too much.

Coldplay’s Viva La Vida is proof of Davide Rossi’s distinctive sound and style.
Photograph by Victoria Smith.

Rossi: “Because I’m on my own in the studio most of the time anyway, I didn’t have to change the way I operate. I pay more attention to disinfecting the studio and studio equipment.”

While production hasn’t been affected to a great extent, live performances have come to a screeching halt. With gigs and concerts cancelled, many artists have turned to live-streaming.

Can live-streaming save the industry during lock-down?

Rossi: “Streaming is already the future of the music industry – but music always changes so fast. It’s difficult to see where or how things will be in the long term.

“Live-streaming is more difficult as it’s hard to substitute the experience of a live performance in a concert hall or club. Perhaps virtual reality or augmented reality could enhance the experience?”

Virtual or augmented realities are an ingenious option but it’s hard to tell if that will happen in the foreseeable future. Rossi describes the current rash of live-streams on social media apps as “underwhelming”.

Rossi: “Live-streaming on apps such as Instagram or Facebook can be a bit underwhelming. I also think, because everybody can do it, the quality goes down.

“Live performance has a totally different feeling, it grabs you much more physically and emotionally. Streaming can be exciting as well but the effect is considerably diminished. It’s not a physical interaction between audience and artist as the screen becomes the contact interface.”

“For independent artists it is always difficult to monetise, even in normal circumstances. I can only imagine how hard it is right now when live work is virtually over”

Davide Rossi

Coldplay’s Viva La Vida is proof of Rossi’s distinctive sound and style. The innovative orchestral arranger says he’s lucky to work in a way that makes him independent from touring and live performances. But he is concerned about other independent artists during this time.

Rossi: “For independent artists it is always difficult to monetise, even in normal circumstances. I can only imagine how hard it is right now when live work is virtually over.

We might think live-streaming is a creative way to cope with the loss of live work. However, the pay rates are far from helping artists to earn a living. According to recent data published by The Trichordist, artists don’t earn enough from streaming to support themselves.

Do you think streaming services offer a sustainable share of the pay-out to artists?

Rossi: “I don’t think so but it’s better than nothing and the beginning of a new environment. It’s going to take time to develop this new kind of infrastructure. But it will take some time before it becomes a viable way for many people to make it sustainable.

With the world on halt and the music industry changing so fast, what can young artists do to make it in the business? Rossi says: “One needs to be really good. Not only creatively but also visually and technologically aware and skilful.”

In a time of self-isolation and social distancing, technology becomes our most important resource. Looking at Rossi’s long history of remote working, it is uplifting to see how many wonderful things can be done. All you have to do is remain dedicated to your craft.

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