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Is live the new battleground for streaming giants?

Streaming giants such as Apple, Spotify and Amazon are ramping up their live music offerings with exclusive live stream series featuring some of the world’s biggest acts.

Apple Music Live yesterday (27 October) announced that Grammy Award-winning artist Megan Thee Stallion will be the latest act to feature in the inaugural, exclusive live performance series.

Her upcoming concert at The Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles will be available to Apple Music subscribers in over 165 countries on 21 December at 19:00 PST, and local fans can register for the chance to be in the room for the rapper’s set.

Megan Thee Stallion follows in the footsteps of artists including Harry Styles, Billie Eilish, Mary J. Blige, Lil Durk and Luke Coombs, all of whom have performed for Apple Music Live.

“No matter how much time and effort an artist may spend crafting music in the studio, it’s on the stage where they really get to show their work,” the company notes. “Apple Music Live is a new recurring series designed to do just that: give the biggest stars in music the biggest possible platform to flaunt how they connect with audiences and how their songs translate to live performance.”

Harry Styles, Billie Eilish, Mary J. Blige, Lil Durk and Luke Coombs have all performed for Apple Music Live

Prior to Apple Music Live, the streaming behemoth previously dabbled in live music with events including the discontinued iTunes Festival and Apple Music Festival.

Amazon Music has also announced details of a new livestream concert series, which will also feature Megan Thee Stallion.

Hosted by American rapper 2 Chainz, Amazon Music Live will be streamed live from LA, featuring “the biggest artists performing their latest hits live”.

It will air on Prime Video following Thursday Night Football in the US and premieres 27 October with Lil Baby, followed by Megan Thee Stallion (3 November) and Kane Brown (10 November), with further performers to be revealed in the coming weeks.

“With Amazon Music Live, we’ve created a new, can’t-miss series for fans to experience the most exciting new music together,” says Kirdis Postelle, global head of artist marketing of Amazon Music. “For artists, this show represents a massive new stage to share their music with fans after Thursday Night Football – the biggest game of the week, airing live on Prime Video.”

Amazon Music Live will be streamed live from LA, featuring “the biggest artists performing their latest hits live”

As well as hosting Amazon Music Live, 2 Chainz will interview each night’s performing artist during Thursday Night Football shoulder programming. Each concert will be available for fans to stream live around the world on Prime Video and will also be available to stream on-demand for a limited time.

Each week’s performance will be filmed in front of a live audience. Attendance to the show is by invitation only and will be facilitated through ticketing and event discovery platform Dice.

Amazon Music also recently livestreamed Kendrick Lamar’s sold-out 22 October show at the Accor Arena in Paris.

Fans were able to watch the livestream for free exclusively on Prime Video in more than 240 countries and territories worldwide, the Amazon Music channel on Twitch, and on the Amazon Music app.

Spotify previously stepped into the live music sphere when it launched a new livestreaming virtual concert series during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Spotify launched a new livestreaming virtual concert series during the Covid-19 pandemic

The Black Keys, Rag’n’Bone Man, Bleachers’ Jack Antonoff, Leon Bridges, and girl in red were among the artists that delivered what Spotify called “pre-recorded live shows” – which each ran for 40-75 minutes and cost US$15 to attend.

More recently, Spotify soft-launched a new website to sell tickets directly to its users, instead of redirecting customers to partner ticketing platforms.

The streaming provider premiered its tickets.spotify.com on 10 August, enabling those with a Spotify account to purchase event tickets via debit or credit card.

Apple, Amazon and Spotify join several other digital giants that have hosted live concert performances, such as YouTube which has been livestreaming Coachella performances for years and Hulu which has been enlisted to stream Lollapalooza and Bonnaroo music festivals in 2022 and 2023.

 


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Amazon Music to livestream Kendrick Lamar show

Amazon Music and Prime Video is to livestream Kendrick Lamar’s sold-out 22 October show at the Accor Arena in Paris.

Fans will be able to watch the livestream for free exclusively on Prime Video in more than 240 countries and territories worldwide, the Amazon Music channel on Twitch, and on the Amazon Music app. The concert marks the 10-year anniversary of the release of Lamar’s good kid, m.A.A.d city LP.

Lamar’s performance, which will provide a special look at Lamar’s 65-date The Big Steppers world tour, will be available to view on-demand on Prime Video following the event, which will also feature sets from PGLang’s Tanna Leone and Baby Keem.

Produced by Live Nation and presented by Rotation, Amazon Music’s hip-hop and R&B brand, Lamar’s tour is currently making stops in Europe, UK and Australia before wrapping up at New Zealand at Auckland’s Spark Arena on 16-17 December.

“We are thrilled to be working with Kendrick Lamar, one of the most influential and groundbreaking artists of my generation, and PGLang to collaborate across Amazon for this epic entertainment event,” says Alaina Bartels, Amazon Studios’ head of talent synergy & specials. “We continue to be the home for talent and creating special opportunities for our global customers to experience their awe-inspiring creativity.”

“For artists, this show represents a massive new stage to share their music with fans”

Amazon Music has also announced details of new livestream concert series Amazon Music Live.

Hosted by American rapper 2 Chainz, the series will be streamed live from Los Angeles, featuring “the biggest artists performing their latest hits live”.

It will air on Prime Video following Thursday Night Football in the US and premieres 27 October with Lil Baby, followed by Megan Thee Stallion (3 November) and Kane Brown (10 November), with further performers to be revealed in the coming weeks.

“With Amazon Music Live, we’ve created a new, can’t-miss series for fans to experience the most exciting new music together,” says Kirdis Postelle, global head of artist marketing of Amazon Music. “For artists, this show represents a massive new stage to share their music with fans after Thursday Night Football – the biggest game of the week, airing live on Prime Video.”

As well as hosting Amazon Music Live, 2 Chainz will interview each night’s performing artist during Thursday Night Football shoulder programming. Each concert will be available for fans to stream live around the world on Prime Video and will also be available to stream on-demand for a limited time.

“Every Thursday night, I’m bringing the biggest and the brightest stars in music to the Amazon Music Live stage in Los Angeles,” said 2 Chainz. “We have the people that are influencing the culture and have carved their own unique path in music, like Lil Baby, Megan Thee Stallion and Kane Brown. Amazon Music Live is the only place to be for the official Thursday turn up!”

Each week’s performance will be filmed in front of a live audience. Attendance to the show is by invitation only and will be facilitated through ticketing and event discovery platform Dice.

 


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Ed Sheeran announces global livestreamed concert

Ed Sheeran is partnering with Amazon Music for a global livestreamed concert from London’s Alexandra Palace (cap. 10, 400).

The singer-songwriter will showcase his new album ‘=’ during The Equals Live Experience, which will be broadcast worldwide via Amazon Music on 5 December at 20:00 GMT.

Five fans – including one guest each – are being offered the chance to attend the 90-minute “stunning visual performance” in person.

Five fans are being offered the chance to attend the 90-minute “stunning visual performance” in person

Those tuning in from home can do so through the Amazon Music app, the Amazon Music channel on Twitch, and Prime Video.

News of the live stream comes after Sheeran delivered a virtual performance from within the Pokémon Go app yesterday (22 November). A video of the show is available to view for eight days, until next Tuesday (30 November).

Sheeran’s other 2021 livestreamed concerts include fundraising event We for India and the record-breaking TikTok live stream which garnered more than 5.5 million unique viewers.

While Alexandra Palace previously hosted livestreamed events such as Nick Cave’s Idiot Prayer and the Melody VR-produced Wireless Connect.

 


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700+ artists boycott Amazon over ICE ties

Just over a week after Amazon Web Services (AWS) revealed the full line-up for its Intersect music festival, over 700 musicians have pledged to boycott any Amazon-affiliated event or partnership due to the e-commerce giant’s links with the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Artists including Deerhoof, Speedy Ortiz, Downtown Boys, Priests and Guy Picciotto have signed the ‘No Music for ICE’ open letter, published by digital rights advocacy group Fight for the Future. The group is also behind a recent campaign urging festivals to ban facial recognition technology.

The letter states that the signatories are “outraged” that Amazon “continues to provide the technical backbone for ICE’s human rights abuses”.

The artists pledge to boycott “Amazon-sponsored events” and “exclusive partnerships” until the company terminates existing contracts with ICE, the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR); stops supplying cloud services and tools to organisations that “power the US government’s deportation machine”; and ends facial recognition projects and any others that “encourage racial profiling”.

“We the undersigned artists are outraged that Amazon continues to provide the technical backbone for ICE’s human rights abuses”

The boycott comes after DJ the Black Madonna pulled out of her appearance at Intersect, claiming that Amazon Web Services’ affiliation with the event was not made apparent.

“If you were shocked I’d play for Amazon, well that makes two of us,” tweeted the DJ. “Please be patient while I burn some bridges.”

Artists still confirmed to play AWS’ Intersect festival, which is taking place from 6 to 7 December in Las Vegas, include Kacey Musgraves, Foo Fighters, Anderson.Paak, Beck, Brandi Carlile, Jamie XX and HER. Weekend passes are available for US$169.

Amazon has attempted to tap into the live scene in recent years, with its streaming arm, Amazon Music, hosting Taylor Swift-headlined Prime Day concert in July. Other, albeit short-lived, forays into the live industry by the web giant include event ticketing operation Amazon Tickets and concert series Prime Live Events.

 


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Amazon announces full line-up for new Intersect festival

Amazon Web Services (AWS) has revealed the full artist line-up for Intersect, its music and technology festival debuting in Las Vegas next month.

Acts including Jpegmafia, Toro y Moi, the Black Madonna, Japanese Breakfast and Kelsey Lu join the likes of Foo Fighters, Kacey Musgraves, Anderson Paak and the Free Nationals, Beck, Brandi Carlile, Leon Bridges, HER and Jamie XX at the event, which will take place on 6 and 7 November at the 85,000-capacity Las Vegas Festival Grounds.

The festival – which follows the Taylor Swift-headlined Prime Day concert as the web giant’s first new live entertainment project since the abrupt shutdown of Amazon Tickets and Prime Live Events early last year – also includes a reported million square feet (93,000m²) of games and activities, including a video arcade, a ‘post-apocalyptic’ dodgeball stadium and a huge ball pit with 200,000 balls, as well as installations and exhibitions by acclaimed visual artists and a drone light show celebrating women in tech.

“We’ve built a pretty amazing and unusual live music experience at our annual AWS conference that attendees have loved”

Ariel Kelman, vice-president of worldwide marketing for AWS, comments: “Music has been an uncanny unifier of people over the years. We’ve built a pretty amazing and unusual live music experience at our annual AWS conference that attendees have loved, and with Intersect, we’re excited to extend this unique event into a two-day, public music festival.

“Festivalgoers can look forward to a mix of musical performances from legendary acts like the Foo Fighters and Kacey Musgraves, and unique musical talents from the likes of Brandi Carlile, Kelsey Lu, and Jpegmafia, coupled with immersive digital installations and some of the interactive games and technology elements our AWS re:Invent and re:Play attendees know and love.”

Two-day tickets are priced from US$169 and available from intersectfest.com.

 


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Streaming companies up live presence with new concerts

Apple and Amazon, whose Apple Music and Amazon Music platforms are respectively the second and third most popular music streaming services worldwide, have announced plans for new live events this summer.

Ecommerce giant Amazon will expand this year’s Prime Day – a Black Friday-like discount day for members of its Prime loyalty programme – with a new entertainment component: a Prime Day concert headlined by Taylor Swift.

Available to view from 9pm EST (1am GMT) next Wednesday (11 July) on Amazon’s Prime Video service, the concert’s all-female line-up also includes Dua Lipa, SZA and Becky, as well as actor Jane Lynch, who will host the event.

“We can’t wait to celebrate Prime Day with an extraordinary night of unforgettable performances, for members around the globe,” says Steve Boom, VP of Amazon Music. “Prime Day brings members the best of both entertainment and shopping. To celebrate, we’ve curated a line-up across multiple genres with performances from artists our customers love.

“We’re looking forward to celebrating Prime Day with this can’t-miss, one-of-a-kind event.”

Amazon previous organised a series of shows in the UK, dubbed Prime Live Events, though these were wound up in early 2018 following the shutdown of its Amazon Tickets business.

“We’re looking forward to celebrating Prime Day with this can’t-miss, one-of-a-kind event”

Apple, meanwhile, is taking Apple Music’s Up Next programme and playlist, which focuses on emerging artists, to retail stores across Europe and the US under the banner Up Next Live.

Up Next artists, including Bad Bunny, Daniel Caesar, Khalid, Ashley McBryde, King Princess, Lewis Capaldi and Jessie Reyez, will each play an intimate show in Apple shops in Italy, France, London and the US, starting with Latin star Bad Bunny at Apple Piazza Liberty in Milan on 9 July.

Apple operated its own music festival, Apple Music Festival (formerly the iTunes Festival), in London from 2007 until its cancellation in 2017, and has also sponsored select tours.

Commenting on his involvement with the Up Next initiative, Puerto Rican-born Bad Bunny says: “The impact [of being part of Up Next] can be seen in everything, in numbers, in plays, in shows. There are a lot of fans that, when I go out in the street in the US, people who do not speak Spanish, I think they will not know me and they stop me, they ask me for pictures and they sing my songs…

“It helped me very much to make myself known in a market different from mine, not only the US, but in places where Spanish is not spoken or where perhaps Latin music does not dominate, exposing my music and giving people the opportunity to get to know what I do.”

Streaming market leader Spotify has also taken its playlists on the road, including the Latin-led ¡Viva Latino! Live, grime-focused Who We Be Live and US hip hop-orientated RapCaviar Live.

 


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See Tickets offering three-month Amazon Music sub

See Tickets has partnered with Amazon to offer See customers a free subscription to Amazon Music Unlimited.

Until 2 November, purchasing a ticket using Amazon Pay will entitle the buyer to a three-month subscription to Amazon’s music streaming service, which the company says has a library of 50m songs.

After completing payment with Amazon Pay – a digital payments platform competing with the likes of Apple Pay and Google Play – a code for Amazon Music Unlimited will appear on the bottom of the ticket confirmation email.

According to MIDiA Research, Amazon Music Unlimited – usually £9.99/$9.99 a month – has a global streaming marketshare of 12%, behind Spotify (36%) and Apple Music (19%) but ahead of China’s Tencent Music (8%), Deezer (3%) and Google Play Music (3%).

Amazon was briefly a competitor to See Tickets in the UK market, before its fledgling Amazon Tickets business was wound up in February.

 


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US Senate proposes sending emergency alerts via streaming services

The US Senate is in the process of considering a bill that would allow the government to send out emergency alerts via streaming services. The proposal is part of the government’s wider effort to improve the delivery of emergency alerts.

The READI act – standing for Reliable Emergency Alert Distribution Improvement – seeks to take advantage of the US population’s music streaming habit, which last year added $4 billion to the music industry’s yearly revenue. With bi-partisan support across the senate, the bill could be debated in the next legislative session.

The enthusiasm for a new alert system in the US comes after a false emergency alert was sent out to Hawaiian citizens back on 13 January 2018. The alert warned of an imminent missile threat and ended with “This is not a drill.” A similar incident happened just a few days after in Japan.

“In a real emergency, these alerts can save lives so we have to do everything we can to get it right.”

According to statistics, user penetration from music streaming services currently stands at 49.7% in 2018. This is expected to rise to over half the population by 2022. By all accounts, these numbers make popular services like Spotify, Apple Music and Amazon Music an attractive choice for the US government to reach as many people as possible in an emergency.

Currently, when an emergency alert is issued – for bad weather, danger threats or an amber alert (relating to missing children) – citizens will find a message explaining the situation on their smartphones, as well as being notified through televisions and radio. Supporters of the READI act believe integrating the alerts into streaming services will increase the likelihood alerts are seen and acted upon accordingly.

Citing the false emergency alert in Hawaii in January, Senator Brian Schatz, co-sponsor of the act, explained the necessity for making alerts as accessible as possible: “Some people never got the message on their phones, while others missed it on their TVs and radios.

“In a real emergency, these alerts can save lives so we have to do everything we can to get it right.”

 


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