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Why should streaming be integrated into live performances and touring?

Here are the questions that should be addressed before using it.
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Author: Polina Bogomolova

Since the beginning of 2021, music business professionals have predicted how the future of live performances and touring will look like. The absolute majority mentions that we will see the rise of live streams.

During the pandemic, the music industry discovered lots of new tools and technologies which turned out to be useful to stay afloat while being locked at home. Livestreaming is one of the most important ones. While touring and live performances came to a halt for an entire year, the entire industry suffered with the loss of its main channel of revenue. Enter livestreaming.

Artists began hosting live shows from their bedrooms with more creative and bigger budget productions (such as Dua Lipa’s “Studio 2054” and Billie Eilish’s “Where do we go: The livestream”), using VR, interactive experience (as The Weeknd Experience) and collaborations with video games (Travis Scott’s Fortnite concert).

Indeed, in a COVID world, livestreaming became a lifesaver for artist creativity and performance, taking the music industry and DIY efforts to another level. Therefore, the idea of merging livestreaming with touring and live performances after the pandemic is over is a valid one.

There is no doubt that livestreams must be added to live shows for several reasons:

1. Additional source of revenue.
According to Ethan Millman, Dua Lipa’s livestreamed show “Studio 2054” cost $1.5 million in production expenses, brought 5 millions of viewers all over the world, and sold 284,000 tickets at a rate of $10 per ticket minimum. While we can only guess the amount of profit the show returned, it is obvious that the show broke-even above and beyond (if every single ticket cost $10, then the show made at least $2.84 million). This example shows that livestreaming could be a perfect fit for touring in order to retain additional revenue from livestreaming, involve a sponsorship, or even include ad placements during a live streamed show.

2. Expansion of “touring territory”.
Even the greatest and most successful musical act of the world such as The Beatles wouldn’t be able to cover every country in the world during a tour due to at least two reasons: it’s not physically possible to exist in two places at once, and not every country has the required demand for a show to make a profit. The logistics of an artist being unable to perform in a country due to a lack of hard ticket sales could be nonexistent with live streams. Livestreaming can partly fix the situation – providing an access to live streamed show to territories unlisted on tour dates, expanding an artist’s horizons, allowing for more universal fans. With the right paygate, artists could see an increase in revenue.

3. Makes artist-fan bond stronger.
An artist’s fans can be located in different parts of the world, dreaming to see a live show of the artist at least online and to be a part of the experience. The opportunity to watch an artist performing in real time creates a feeling of connection and devotion, even while being thousands of miles away from the actual show.

4. Additional source of promotion.
If an artist’s team decides to have a free livestream, there are still ways to turn a profit. By making a livestream available for everyone, there can be a number of “casual viewers” who happen to be online on the same platform or watch it because of friends, which creates an awareness of the artist and, consequently, can attract new listeners on streaming platforms and make them become fans. Moreover, an artist’s team can hyperlink an artist’s website during a free livestream to get more clicks and merch sales.

5. Post-COVID syndrome.
It is inevitable that people all around the world will need some time to adjust and return to the “old” reality after COVID-19. According to Performance Research, 85% of 1,000 people surveyed confirmed this statement. Not everyone will be ready to attend big shows even after the pandemic is over, which can provoke a decrease in ticket sales during a tour. Therefore, livestreaming can be a good solution for those who want to see a show but are scared to attend it.

6. “A better view” and use of creative technologies with interactive experience.
To watch a live streamed show gives a viewer comfort which even the most expensive VIP ticket at a live show cannot give - there is no crowd, it is not loud, no additional expenses on merch, snacks / alcohol, no wasted time on going back and forth to the show and after. Obviously, sitting and watching a show from home won’t provide a viewer the same energy as if it does at the live show, but not everyone needs it. Also, with implementing VR and interactive experiences in livestreaming, to sit and watch a show from the comfort of home can become even more interesting.

However, with all its pros that livestreaming has, to make a decision regarding its usage, an artist and artist’s team should consider addressing and answering such questions as:

1. Can it negatively impact the image of the artist?
For nature supporters, livestreaming can become like fur for animal activists – it creates a massive carbon footprint and makes the environmental issue worse than it is now, which is a global moral concern. An artist and its team should get the answers ready in case they will be asked for it if they decide to move forward using livestreaming.

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2. Will it decrease ticket sales for live shows?
By giving a choice whether to attend a show or watch a livestream, can it provoke people to choose the second option? When a live show happens, not all attendees are fans - some of them attend because of a friend’s influence or a slight interest in a support act, for example. Having an opportunity to see the show via livestream for a more affordable price can seem fair for this group of people, which can lead to a decrease of live show ticket sales.

3. Will expenses on livestreaming break-even?
An artist’s team should think if it is worth to livestream an artist’s show, relying on the size of the artist’s fanbase. Is the artist big enough to break even and cover the expenses on equipment and staff required to live stream a show? Even though livestreaming is the future of live events, it may not be feasible for every artist yet.

4. How many livestreams should be done during one tour?
Last but not least, an artist’s team should calculate how big the demand is for an artist’s show to be livestreamed. To build demand, livestream dates must be chosen with care, kept occasionally to keep people curious and build demand and avoid oversaturating availability. Should it be streamed worldwide or for a specific number of countries? While the technology isn’t cheap, it should be used sparingly on tour.

As it was mentioned earlier, livestreaming isn’t going anywhere and companies such as Spotify plan to support the tool. Obviously, livestreaming opens many new exciting opportunities and spaces for creating, however, the industry professionals should be proactive using it and know when it will be an amazing addition to a tour and when it will not.

References

COVID-19 is ratcheting up consumer anxiety about future events, but there are silver linings for the sports and entertainment industry. (n.d.). In Performance Research. Retrieved June 6, 2021, from http://performanceresearch.com/covid-19-is-ratcheting-up-consumer-anxiety-about-future-events-but-there-are-silver-linings-for-the-sports-and-entertainment-industry/

Delfino, D. (2018, October 19). How musicians really make their money — and it has nothing to do with how many times people listen to their songs. In Insider. Retrieved June 6, 2021, from https://www.businessinsider.com/how-do-musicians-make-money-2018-10

Hussey, A. (2020, November 27). Dua Lipa’s Studio 2054 Livestream: Here’s What Happened. In Pitchfork. Retrieved June 6, 2021, from https://pitchfork.com/news/dua-lipas-studio-2054-livestream-heres-what-happened/

Neale, M. (2020, July 31). The Weeknd announces live-streamed VR shows on TikTok. In NME. Retrieved June 6, 2021, from https://www.nme.com/news/music/the-weeknd-announces-live-streamed-vr-shows-on-tiktok-2719426

Marks, L. U., Clark, J., Livingston, J., Oleksijczuk, D., & Hilderbrand, L. (2020, October 15). Streaming Media’s Environmental Impact. In Media+Environment . Retrieved June 6, 2021, from https://mediaenviron.org/article/17242-streaming-media-s-environmental-impact

Millman, E. (2020, December 1). Dua Lipa’s Very Expensive Concert Is the Future of Livestreaming. In RollingStone. Retrieved June 6, 2021, from https://www.rollingstone.com/pro/news/dua-lipa-livestream-cost-viewership-1096950/

Spangler, T. (2021, May 19). Spotify Is Launching a Virtual Concert Series, With Shows Priced at $15 Apiece. In Variety. Retrieved June 6, 2021, from https://variety.com/2021/digital/news/spotify-virtual-concerts-livestream-1234976854/

Wang, A. X. (2020, October 26). Billie Eilish’s Virtual Concert Is the Rare Livestream Done Right. In RollingStone. Retrieved June 6, 2021, from https://www.rollingstone.com/music/music-live-reviews/billie-eilish-livestream-virtual-concert-1080748/

Webster, A. (2020, April 23). Travis Scott’s first Fortnite concert was surreal and spectacular. In The Verge. Retrieved June 6, 2021, from https://www.theverge.com/2020/4/23/21233637/travis-scott-fortnite-concert-astronomical-live-report

100 Greatest Artists. (2010, December 3). In RollingStone. Retrieved June 6, 2021, from https://www.rollingstone.com/music/music-lists/100-greatest-artists-147446/the-beatles-7-31247/

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