Skip to main content

The Coronavirus is making higher education go online, whether it’s prepared or not. The industry can learn from the Dropkick Murphys, who streamed their St. Patrick’s Day concert online.


The Dropkick Murphys are a Boston-based band that blends punk rock with traditional Irish music. Their St. Patrick’s Day concert was scheduled to be at the House of Blues in Boston, but due to the Coronavirus the band had to forego a live audience and instead chose to stream the concert online through Facebook Live.

The concert was a complete success with more than 140,000 live streams at once; allowing them to play to old fans who have loved them since Dirty Glass first broke onto the scene, as well as new fans who wanted good music while they drink a pint of Guinness alone in self quarantine.

High education is facing a similar problem. The venues of academia are closing and transitioning online with hopes of coming back to campus in the fall. Here are lessons higher education can learn from the Dropkick Murphys:

  1. Technology can help reach a larger audience

When the DKM’s concert was going to be canceled, they could have thrown in the towel and sit back with a pint. But no, they didn’t give up. Instead, they made adjustments to stream the concert online. Sure the sweaty mosh pits and crowd singalongs were missed, but the audience that enjoyed the concert grew x56.

The concert venue was the historic House of Blues in downtown Boston, which has a capacity of 2,500. The live stream had 140,000 viewers at once, meaning the Dropkick Murphys played to a crowd 56 times larger because they took the concert online.

The higher-education experience might be different online when compared to being person. In classrooms – live interactions and group discussions will be missed, but access to the lesson and materials will be easier. In recruitment – the personal engagement will be missed, but effective marketing materials are more easily shared.

  1. Know your audience when choosing what to deliver online

Would have 140,000 people live steam a Dropkick Murphy’s concert any given Tuesday night? No. But on St. Patrick’s Day, the day the world celebrates everything Irish, the Dropkick Murphys had their moment as one of American’s best Irish bands, and they seized it. On that day, that one day known as St. Patrick’s Day, the whole world was their target audience: those who appreciate Irish music.

Higher education has many audiences, and needs to know how to service them. Students are a captive audience because they are already enrolled in a class that has all of a sudden been transitioned to online, but know that students might be more interested in an online coding class or math class than they would in an online fishing or swimming class.

In higher-education recruitment, students might be more interested in a one-on-one chat with a current student or admissions counselor than they would in just digesting online materials.

  1. Engage even when online

During the concert, hearts and thumbs up were flying and filling the screen at times, the band was talking between songs, and there was a strong sense of engagement. Ken Casey, the lead singer of the Dropkick Murphys, even made jokes about the Boston Bruins being the new Stanley Cup winners because the rest of the season is canceled. It was lively and engaging.

Similarly, teachers need to be engaging in the online materials, and they need to foster engagement with and between students. Sure, it’s easier to give a thumbs up to a punk rock band tearing it up on stage than it is to give one to a math teacher who just solved a problem, but engagement is still needed.

Watch the concert

Learn about the band

Thank you Dropkick Murphys for helping us forget about the world for a few hours.


U.S. based and U.S. exclusive, BrighterEd partners with colleges and universities to reach their international goals. Focused on connecting quality international students with their ideal U.S. institutions, BrighterEd provides proven strategies and outcomes for international marketing, recruitment, enrollment, retention and brand development.