Quarantine Keys, founded in March 2020 by Jami McNeill and Ryan Bennett, is a virtual piano bar, born out of the collapse of the live music industry in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
McNeill, an accomplished musician and Bennett, a young-gun with an IT background, found a unique way to connect homebound musicians with quarantined music lovers; create a channel, broadcast to multiple platforms, and provide live performers nightly.
Quarantine Keys performers – each a singing entertainer, most playing piano and/or guitar – are supported by donations. Viewers interact with the performers as they broadcast live from their homes by chatting in the comments and requesting songs using Pay Apps, creating a virtual piano bar. On July 24, QK received 501(c)(3) status, making it an official non-profit organization, making all donations to players and the organization itself tax deductible.
Over the past six months, the QK roster has expanded from its humble beginnings of 4 musicians from the Denver area (where McNeill and Bennett are based) to a current lineup of 15-20 diverse performers from the US and UK. Today, QK has raised over $50,000 for performers and continues developing a loyal fan base.
QK has fans from across the globe, spanning multiple platforms, including Facebook, YouTube & Twitch. As of today, QK averages 46,000 post views per month on Facebook. Performers average 2,000-4,000 viewers per show, with top videos obtaining close to 10,000 views.
At a time when music fans are missing live music and feeling isolated from social interactions, QK viewers find community and connection in an unlikely place: during performers live feeds. The QK Facebook Page comments section has become a virtual gathering place where Quarantine Keys fans, affectionately knowns as “Keysters,” find friendship and camaraderie. “We understand these are hard times, both financially and psychologically, for many,” McNeill says. “There are no admission fees to enjoy the performers and participate in the chat; we foster the “community” aspect as much as the musical aspect. Those who can afford to donate do, and there’s no judgement toward those who cannot.”