At the onset of the pandemic, the Next Festival made a radical pivot to offer 100% of its programming online, free of charge, with an emphasis on diversity, equity, inclusion, and helping artists in a time of need. The Festival introduced a groundbreaking series of virtual offerings called Next Fest Connects with the goal not only to serve artists and audiences through relevant, timely programming, but also to compensate artists for their expertise and artistry. Next Fest Connects features masterclasses on contemporary music, workshops on navigating career challenges during COVID, and more. The Festival became virtual for 2020 and 2021, presenting over 35 guest artists and thought leaders, including Pulitzer, Grammy and MacArthur honorees, all tuition-free and with many events open to the public. Almost overnight, the Next Festival’s constituency has expanded nearly tenfold, from an intimate group of artists and audiences to an international community of students, professional musicians, and individuals who have been inspired by the power of music during a dark time.