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Report: £5 is ‘optimum’ price point for virtual shows

A ticket that costs £5 (€5.55) for individual adults, or £10 (€11.10) for families with children, is the optimum average price point for virtual events, new analysis reveals.

For Vivid Interface’s Meeting the Online Opportunity, the UK market research firm asked 1,019 people who had visited at least two visitor attractions in the 18 months prior to lockdown in March 2020 how much they would pay to “watch a [virtual] play, opera, ballet performance or live band gig, or do a class, and so on”.

For “independent adults”, the price point where both revenue and viewership are at their highest is, on average, £5, according to the report. For families with children under 16, revenue is highest at £10, while the biggest viewership is achieved at £5.

The survey also reveals differences in willingness to spend based on age group – for 18–25s and 36–54s the optimum price point is £10, while for 26–35s and over-55s it’s £5 – and gender, with men prepared to pay more for their online experiences than women.

“The right online offer can provide a rapid revenue recovery”

Vivid Interface’s MD, Geoff Dixon, comments: “Nothing beats the live events arena. It’s where we work – and my social life – but organisers have to at least explore the possibility of online augmentation of their offer in pandemic times.

“I believe that the right online offer can provide a rapid revenue recovery without harming the long-term viability of ‘live’. In fact, an online presence can reach new geographies and bring new customers to a brand, attracting people who may in time walk through a physical door rather than a paywall.”

According to Vivid’s research, the Royal Opera House, by charging £4.99 for its first post-lockdown virtual shows, “may not be optimising revenue”; however, Laura Marling’s groundbreaking Union Chapel concert, which attracted an online audience of 6,500 with a ticket price of £12.50 (€13.90), “may be optimising revenue at this price point”.

“Research will help to set out a plan and an understanding of the price-to-demand relationships that are key to successful brand building,” adds Dixon.

 


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Driift celebrates success with livestream concerts

UK-based virtual producer and promoter Driift is announcing a slate of ticketed livestream concerts after successful online events with Laura Marling, Lianne La Havas and Dermot Kennedy.

The company, founded by ATC Management’s Ric Salmon and Brian Message, trialled the pay-per-view livestream concerts with a performance from Laura Marling at the Union Chapel in London in June.

“Ticketed live streaming is currently a space that no one controls, and we believe there is a long-term and commercially viable business here. It’s incredibly exciting” says Salmon.

Capitalising on the success of Marling’s show, Driift has since produced livestream shows for Lianne La Havas at the Roundhouse and Dermot Kennedy at the Natural History Museum.

Kennedy’s livestream show, which took place last Thursday (30 June) and featured Normal People’s Paul Mescal, sold over 30,000 tickets worldwide and was broadcast live over four different time zones.

“It strikes me that this is just the beginning of an exciting opportunity for artists and their teams to create new art that many will choose to pay for,” says Message. “If we get this right, ticketed livestream productions, whether live shows or something not yet dreamt of, can comfortably sit alongside promotional videos, traditional live shows and other ways fans and artists relate.”

This is not a replacement for live, this is a coming of age for livestreaming

Now, with investment from shareholders Beggars Group, Driift is producing more high profile livestream shows including a one-off worldwide performance from Biffy Clyro on 15 August from an iconic Glasgow venue and a performance from Sleaford Mods at the 100 club on 12 September.

“We’ve felt for a long time that livestreaming has been undervalued,” says Ruth Barlow, director of live at Beggars Group.

“We’re excited about the creative and commercial opportunities for the business, the artists and their fans; who no longer have to be in a particular city at a particular time to experience unique live music events.

“This is not a replacement for live, this is a coming of age for livestreaming.”

Driift will oversee ticketing, production, licensing, rights management and digital marketing for the livestream concerts – allowing artists to rebuild live music into their release campaigns and overall strategies.

Having collaborated with live industry giants such as CAA, Dice, Universe/Ticketmaster, YouTube, Pulse Films and Jackshoot, Driift is expanding its offering outside of the UK, with a number of shows being set up in North America.

 


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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IQ teams up with Wide Days for Focus special

IQ is joining forces with Scottish music convention Wide Days for this week’s virtual IQ Focus session, which will shine a light on the team behind Laura Marling’s pioneering live stream shows in London earlier this year.

The panel, Laura Marling – A Streaming Success is taking place as part of this year’s virtual Wide Days conference (23 to 25 July), and will be aired on Facebook and YouTube on Thursday 23 July at 4 p.m. BST/ 5 p.m. CET.

To access the rest of the Wide Days programme, purchase a ticket here.

In June, Laura Marling made history with two, back-to-back shows at London’s Union Chapel, with the first performance livestreamed to Europe and the second exclusively for North America.

Selling over 6,000 tickets, the gigs proved that it’s not just stadium acts that can generate revenue from broadcasting to an online audience.

IQ is joining forces with Scottish music convention Wide Days for this week’s virtual IQ Focus session

Key figures who helped make Marling’s vision a reality will come together on the panel to discuss how the shows can serve as a template for other acts.

Chaired by music industry consultant Tina Hart, panellists include ATC Management’s Ric Salmon, who was a driving force behind the Union Chapel shows and has since set up ticketed livestreaming business, Drift; Amy Oldham of Dice, who provided the ticketing and one of the livestreaming platforms for Marling’s concerts; and award-winning director Giorgio Testi of Pulse Films, who was in charge of filming the shows.

Additional members of the panel are yet to be announced.

To watch Laura Marling – A Streaming Success on Thursday head to the IQ Magazine page on Facebook or YouTube.

Read IQ Magazine’s feature on Laura Marling and the rise of the paid live stream here.

Laura Marling and the rise of the paid live stream


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Laura Marling and the rise of the paid live stream

“When the first song was over and, of course, no applause followed… I found the awkwardness of it somewhat thrilling,” says Laura Marling of her groundbreaking 6 June livestreamed gigs – the first for fans in UK and Europe, followed hours later by a second show tailored for fans in North America.

“It felt similar to a sound check in that people around you are getting on with their jobs and, in my case as a solo performer, you’re left there to get on with it, to do my job – there’s something I really enjoy about that. To sing in an empty church is a pleasure at any time. Also, my shows certainly aren’t famous for my mid-set one liners… so a lack of audience interaction didn’t factor too much.”

While the thousands of fans who bought a ticket for the Union Chapel concerts were probably unaware of the historic significance of the shows, the reaction to the format was almost unanimously positive, with Marling’s haunting lyrics, song choices and mesmeric performance complemented by the setting of the empty and silent venue. Indeed, the artist herself was one of the biggest fans of the format and she is already working with her management team – ATC Management’s Brian Message and Ric Salmon – on another bigger livestreaming concept. To that end, Message and Salmon have established a new company called Driift to capitalise on the potential of the new ticketed livestreaming model.

Held down
In terms of performance, thousands of acts around the world have found themselves redundant since politicians started banning mass gatherings and confined live music to all but a memory of better times. Using a variety of platforms, however, numerous acts have been video livestreaming from their own homes, albeit with little quality control on either audio or visual aspects. And using the technology at hand, only those with huge followings have been able to generate revenues through the likes of advertising that, again, they rarely have any say about.

“Without an audience, there’s tremendous possibility with what could be done in a space”

Where Marling’s activity differed was in charging fans for a ticket to access the live broadcast of her show, which transported her out of the ubiquitous corona confines of the living room/bedroom/bathroom/home studio setting, to a proper, recognisable venue. There she could call upon state-of-the-art sound, lighting and camera equipment, and even an award-winning director, Giorgio Testi, and Pulse Films, to deliver something meaningful and give ‘attendees’ something lasting.

“Without an audience, there’s tremendous possibility with what could be done in a space,” enthuses Marling. “An unforeseen bonus to an audience-free show, which of course means no front-of-house sound, is that you can get incredible sound – close to studio quality… With this set-up, we could use mics on everything without fear of feedback.”

Manager Ric Salmon tells IQ, “The genesis of the idea was born out of frustration. Laura had sold out her solo, acoustic tour around Australia, North America, the UK and Europe. But then Covid hit.”

When it became clear that not just the North American leg was doomed, but the remainder of the entire tour, the Marling team, like so many others, announced the cancellation: 41 dates in total. Ever proactive, ATC management convinced Marling to fast track the release of new album, Song for Our Daughter, and started revising plans for promo. “Laura is social media averse, but she was comfortable doing guitar tutorials for fans, so we sent her HD cameras to use in her house and she quite enjoyed performing remotely – culminating in a home performance for Later with Jools on the BBC.

“For the tour, we’d refunded about 25,000 people who missed out on seeing her, so we came up with the idea of broadcasting a show from a proper venue, to tap into that demand. But then the discussion was about who would pay for it, as nobody had sold tickets for any livestreamed shows at that point.”

“Just like a normal ticketed gig, people were nervous about missing out so they decided to buy early”

Taking that situation as a challenge, the ATC partners set about pulling the necessary team together. “Laura suggested the Union Chapel because that venue means so much to her and, because we’re not technologists, we reckoned the best idea would be to aggregate the best companies in their class,” explains Salmon.

Pulse Films and director Testi topped ATC’s wish list and having worked extensively with DICE in the past, the company’s new DICE TV platform also made them a clear choice. Finally, YouTube was added, given its global footprint, but that plan, Salmon admits, had one major flaw: “Being ad-funded, they don’t do paywalls, but Dan Chalmers at YouTube really championed the idea and before we knew it there was terrific forward momentum.

“The primary function was not to make money, hence the ticket price of just £12 (€13). But Laura was mortified about cancelling the tour, so this was more about offering her the chance to perform to fans. And it worked brilliantly, as she is in her element when it’s just her and her guitar. So it was some sort of replacement for the tour.”

Wild fire
As often happens with any new concept, when word started to spread about the Laura Marling pay-per-views, sceptics rattled out cautionary ‘you can’t replicate live’ adages. But with locked-down fans desperate for any kind of shared experience, demand for tickets uncannily replicated ‘normal’ sales patterns.

“The level of interest around the announcement was incredible,” reports DICE chief revenue officer, Russ Tannen. “Just like a normal ticketed gig, people were nervous about missing out so they decided to buy early.” Another familiar aspect was a sales spike on the day of the event – a whopping 16% of total sales for the UK show.

 


Continue reading this feature in the digital edition of IQ 90, or subscribe to the magazine here


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Living the stream: IQ 90 out now

IQ 90, the latest, fully digital edition of IQ Magazine, focuses on the two biggest issues of the past few months – the continuing impact of the coronavirus pandemic and the growing momentum of the Black Lives Matter movement.

As most people continue to work from home due to the coronavirus crisis, IQ Magazine has moved to digital and will be delivered monthly for the time being, as a response to feedback on the need for more news, analysis and information.

In the midst of the first global pandemic of the 21st century, IQ editor Gordon Masson muses that, perhaps, the decade starting 2020 may be remembered for more noble reasons: the fight to root out and properly tackle systemic racism.

The new issue of the magazine includes analysis and expert commentary on the matter of racism in the music industry, as well as a list of educational resources and relevant organisations to support.

Readers are also reminded of the upcoming IQ Focus panel, Beyond Rhetoric: Race in Live Music, which airs at 4 p.m.BST/5 p.m. CET on Thursday (25 June), which will look at issues of racism within the live business.

IQ 90 focuses on the continuing impact of the coronavirus pandemic and the growing momentum of the Black Lives Matter movement

Although many nations are embarking on tentative reopening plans, live events as we know them have not yet returned and, in a move characteristic of the live industry’s creativity, new kinds of events have started to emerge. IQ 90 takes an in-depth look at Laura Marling’s recent behind-closed-doors concerts to talk about the mechanics, benefits and economics of audience-less gigs.

Other successful shutdown formats analysed in the magazine include BTS’ recent Bang Bang Con: The Live concert, which garnered upwards of 750,000 viewers, making it the most-attended paid virtual concert in history; Lewis Capaldi’s DICE TV home gig and Twitch’s extended-reality broadcast of Dutch DJ duo W&W.

Issue #90 also sees the launch of the Green Guardians Guide, an annual initiative that IQ is developing along with the Green Events and Innovations Conference (GEI) to shine a light on the companies, organisations and individuals working tirelessly to make touring and live entertainment a more sustainable place.

The live market in India is put under the microscope, too, as Adam Woods explains why the country has the greatest potential of any relatively untapped touring market in the world.

The issue also comes filled with some regular features, such as the New Signings page; Unsung Hero section, which looks at Viktor Trifu, technical director of Exit Festival, one of the only major festivals to go ahead this year; and an old favourite, Your Shout, with live event professionals sharing their most bizarre festival moment.

As always, most content from the magazine will appear online in some form over the next few months. However, if you can’t wait for your fix of essential live music industry features, opinion and analysis, click here to subscribe now.


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