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Livestreamed shows here to stay, finds academic study

Fans will be willing to pay for concert live streams even after the pandemic has passed, researchers in the UK have found

By IQ on 12 May 2021

Researchers found live streams are appreciated by many, even in non-pandemic times

Researchers found live streams are appreciated by many, even in non-pandemic times

New research into livestreamed concerts, funded by the UK’s Economic and Social Research Council, has found artists are overwhelmingly positive about the power of reaching new audiences through virtual shows, even post-pandemic.

The research, led by Middlesex University and King’s College London, also offers insight into fan experiences of and expectations for livestreamed events and detailed advice on the technical and legal aspects of livestreaming.

The findings of the research project, which surveyed nearly 1,500 musicians and fans in the UK, include:

  • 90% of musicians and 92% of fans agree livestreaming will in future be a successful tool to reach audiences unable or unwilling to go to physical venues. Over two thirds of those surveyed agreed livestreaming will remain an important part of the landscape after the pandemic
  • 72% of live music fans and 74% of musicians agree that livestreamed performances should be paid for. In addition, 62% of fans say the cost of paywalls for livestreamed shows aren’t a barrier. 78% of fans would be prepared to pay for a livestreamed show by an artist who is offering some other livestreamed content for free
  • 95% of fans say emotional engagement from the artist during livestreamed concerts is important to them. 82% agreed that performers acknowledging individuals’ presence in the audience during a live stream made them feel connected

For their research, investigators also interviewed four concert promoters and an industry charity, and invited 200 music venues to send out the survey. Project partners included the Musicians’ Union, the Incorporated Society of Musicians, Music Venue Trust and promoter Serious.

The findings, however, conflict with a recent survey by trade body LIVE which found just 25% of fans will continue to engage with live streams after the pandemic period.

Over two thirds of those surveyed agreed livestreaming will remain an important part of the landscape after the pandemic

The project’s principal investigator, Middlesex University senior lecturer in music business and arts management Julia Haferkorn, says: “There were numerous comments from attenders unable to visit physical venues, even in non-pandemic times, expressing their appreciation of the availability of livestreamed concerts. Attenders also expressed an appreciation for being able to watch concerts by artists from other countries.”

“The most interesting insight from our research is the important role that livestreaming plays in giving music fans who suffer from social anxiety or other health-related issues access to live music performance,” adds study co-author Brian Kavanagh, lecturer in digital innovation at King’s College London.

Another co-author, pianist and Middlesex University lecturer in popular music Sam Leak, comments: “Our research has highlighted how important it is for audience members to be able to communicate with, and feel connected to, each other and the musicians performing. As a performer, this finding is interesting to me not only because it impacts my livestreaming practice, but also because it could well enhance the experience of my audiences in physical venues.”

The full report, which was published this morning (12 May), is available from www.livestreamingmusic.uk.


This article forms part of IQ’s Covid-19 resource centre – a knowledge hub of essential guidance and updating resources for uncertain times.

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