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The changing landscape of live music: How quarantine concerts are expanding the accessibility of live music

The Power of Streaming Allen Roberson

With live concerts on hold for the foreseeable future, concert-goers are experiencing a democratization of live music events through the emergence of livestream concerts.

Why it matters: “Over the past 15 years, the concert business has been the primary financial engine of the music industry,” writes Variety, where “concerts and merchandise, along with sponsorships and synch opportunities, became the primary revenue streams to enable [artists] to make livelihood and living.” However, the increasing preference of artists and concert promoters to hold concerts in geographically disbursed, large venues have too often limited their live audience to a small slice of the population: affluent, urban dwellers.

The Washington Post noted that virtual entertainment events have “[opened] doors to people who might have otherwise not been able to attend, whether because of geography or mobility or finances.” Global megastars and local musicians alike have struggled to remain connected to their fans and earn income while the pandemic ensures that touring remains at a standstill and venues remain closed.

Through the emergence of ticket virtual concert platforms like StageIt, “organizers and artists have witnessed the power of opening up events to a larger audience online and have realized that fans may still crave these opportunities when the world resumes.”

By the numbers:

  • Based on early data from the global concert industry trade publication Pollstar, the 2020 concert industry – inclusive of revenues generated by artists, merchandise, food and restaurants, transportation, lodging, venues, production, marketing, and a host of other related services – was projected to be worth $12.2 billion, up nearly 11% over 2019.
  • Pollster’s Top 100 Worldwide concerts grossed $5.6 billion in 2019, representing a 1% increase of 2018, which was record-breaking in its own right, with Pink’s “Beautiful Trauma” tour as the top grossing tour with $215 million and an average ticket price of $118 per seat according to Pollstar.
  • Keep in mind that these are annual snapshots of concert sales. The over 2 ½ year “Divide” tour by Ed Sheeran grossed a mind-blowing $776 million.
  • In the 5-year period, from 2015 to 2019, gross sales for the Top 100 Worldwide grew by 41%, from $3.8 billion to $5.6 billion, driven by a 22% increase in the average attendance per show and a 23% increase in average ticket prices, from $78 to $96 per ticket. Lady Gaga topped the range at an average ticket price of over $288 per ticket at her Las Vegas “Enigma” and “Jazz & Piano” residencies.

A changing industry landscape: Live Nation, parent company to well-known brands like Ticketmaster and Roc Nation, has dominated the worldwide concert industry since its heavily contested formation in 2010 and has been hit hard by the pandemic’s impact on the loss of tour revenues. Not to be outdone or left behind, Live Nation has acquired a majority stake in Veeps, which offers a premium ticketed virtual concert experience that will undoubtedly change the live music landscape.

Among the unique features that platforms like Veeps and StageIt offer are live chat and exclusive artist merchandising, and allow for social marketing and VIP customer engagement opportunities. Veeps hosted over 1,000 ticketed livestream concerts in 2020, provided commission-free to artists.

Billboard magazine now maintains a regularly refreshed list of virtual concerts that include headliners like Justin Bieber, Dave Matthews, and Diplo. If you are a true “Belieber,” as Justin Bieber’s fans are known, you will have tuned into his New Year’s Eve concert via Moment House for a flat $25 fee (free to T-Mobile customers), all from the safety and comfort of your home.

The democratization of live music has not only been a boom for concert goers and struggling artists. Rhett Miller, lead singer of alt-country band the Old 97s, commented that “It’s hard to imagine going back to 200 shows a year on the road, which is what I’ve done for my whole adult life.” Miller has instead been able to continue to entertain, hosting over 160 livestream concerts since the start of the pandemic, while still spending more time at home with his children.

StageIt CEO, Stephen White, is currently in talks with venues to add livestreaming capabilities to their currently shuttered clubs and concert halls, adding to the live music vertical, creating an ability to offer unlimited seating capacity when live concerts once again resume.

The bottom line: There will always be demand for live concerts, but artists and the live concert industry have embraced livestream concerts as another medium to reach more concert-goers that may have been previously excluded from the live concert experience.

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