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UTA invests in livestreaming service Moment House

Moment House has received US$12 million in new funding from investors including UTA Ventures, the investment arm of United Talent Agency, artists Halsey and Kaytranada, and Max Cutler, founder of podcast studio Parcast and head of new content for Spotify.

The series-A funding round, led by venture-capital firm Forerunner Ventures, also includes design firm Ideo, actors Whitney Cummings and Tom Felton, artist manager William Robillard-Cole, and YouTuber and comedian Noel Miller.

LA-based Moment House, which powers ticketed livestreamed ‘Moments’ for leading musicians and entertainers, has processed more than million tickets across 168 countries since its launch in 2019. It has worked with artists including Tame Impala, KSI, Halsey, St Vincent, Kygo, Kaytranada, Brockhampton, Grouplove, Yungblud and Justin Bieber.

The new investors join existing backers including high-profile artist managers Troy Carter, Scooter Braun, Myles Shear (Kygo), Austin Rosen (Post Malone), as well as actor Jared Leto, UnitedMasters’ Steve Stoute, Patreon CEO Jack Conte and ex-TikTok CEO Kevin Mayer.

“This fundraising round allows us to execute on our ambitious product roadmap”

“We’re excited to welcome more top tech and entertainment leaders to Moment House as we continue empowering creators to deliver special live experiences to their worldwide communities digitally,” says Moment House co-founder and CEO Arjun Mehta.

“This fundraising round allows us to execute on our ambitious product roadmap, which involves deepening the consumer social experience, and on the supply side, opening up the platform so that any creator in the world can easily make a Moment.

“Everything we have done so far is just step one of a much bigger plan to help build the ‘metaverse’.”

Upcoming shows for Moment House, which recent made a string of senior hires, include Halsey, Tinashe, Michelle Branch, Louis the Child, the Tiny Meat Gang Podcast, the Small Town Murder podcast and more.

 


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How does livestreaming fit in a post-pandemic industry?

The livestreaming gold rush is far from over. As live gigs and festivals return, the future for this fledgling industry looks rosy, as artists around the world now know that they can leverage the global reach of the internet to allow fans to remotely view their performances.

Whereas the argument in 2019 was that people surely wouldn’t pay for tickets to watch something on their computer screen, the reality of the past 18 months has debunked that theory, while technology has also allowed those viewers to watch their favourite artists on their wide-screen TVs.

“We’ve had a year of almost working in a vacuum,” notes Driift co-founder Ric Salmon. “In this phase, now, where life returns to normal as touring starts, managers, agents and artists themselves will become hyper-focused on trying to get back out on the road and generating as much money as possible, so understandably the focus might fall away a little bit from doing live streams.

“We’ve pre-empted it for months, but now we have to see how livestreaming will fit in the overall plan for an artist. I don’t think we have the answers to everything yet, but there’s still a huge amount of interest and there’s a lot of new business coming our way.”

“[StageIt] did 6,400 shows in 2020. That’s about a third of what Live Nation does”

While some predict a temporary downturn in livestreaming activities, others are more bullish about the prospects as touring resumes.
“The past year has been bananas,” states Stephen White of San Francisco-based StageIt. “We did 6,400 shows in 2020. That’s about a third of what Live Nation does, so it was a crazy year for us, in terms of volume, as artists just didn’t have other ways to connect with their fans.

“When I took over as CEO in May of 2020, we immediately started a venue programme, as we knew that without some sort of revenue stream these venues were going to die. So, we started putting cameras into venues where folks wanted to work exclusively with us, figuring out how to bring in mobile crews safely, and really getting venue staff trained on how to do this, so that the sound and lights guys can also operate the live stream without a huge learning curve.

“That was massively important for us as it established a network of venues that were already using the platform. And now that they are starting to reopen, we’re not seeing any downturn. If anything, what we’re seeing is, the more shows there are, the more opportunities there are to live stream.”

“The more [in-person] shows there are, the more opportunities there are to live stream”

Changing Landscape
When Live Nation acquired streaming platform Veeps in January, it became apparent that partnerships between livestreaming platforms and venues would play a major role in the future of the business.

Veeps is installing its technology in more than 60 Live Nation venues, including institutions like The Wiltern in Los Angeles, where From the Wiltern shows are already available to stream from $15 (€13) a ticket.

Elsewhere, YouTube is working on a new 6,000-seat theatre in Los Angeles from where it intends to stream shows, while on a smaller scale, streaming platform Mandolin recently agreed an exclusive partnership with City Winery to stream concerts from its eight music venues around North America.

However, the fact that a venue signs a deal with a livestreaming platform does not necessarily mean that the artist will agree to that service streaming their show, because broadcasting contracts are usually thrashed out between the artist/artist management and the streaming service itself.

“The agents and promoters are coming back into the picture, so we’re having to do a bit of that education cycle again”

But the landscape is changing and Live Nation’s deal with Veeps, in particular, is prompting some to envisage new exclusivity clauses appearing in promoter contracts to cover streaming rights.

That doesn’t deter White, who notes that if a venue has an existing agreement with the likes of StageIt, that presence will give the incumbent platform an advantage when it comes to any visiting act.

He comments, “One thing that has been really interesting for us is that we’re now having a different set of conversations. Through the pandemic, all of the efforts from our side were with the artist – either directly with the artist or, in some cases, through artist management.

“All of a sudden, now that the world is re-opening, the agents and promoters are coming back into the picture, so we’re having to do a bit of that education cycle again.

“[Agents] are now seeing us as a service provider rather than a chequebook”

“We know that artists are probably going to perform fewer times on a tour but do bigger shows as they try to address sustainability.”

That’s a scenario the hierarchy at UK-based LIVENow also recognises. “During lockdown, some agents struggled to find out where their place in the ecosystem was and some were trying to generate revenue for their clients,” says chief content officer James Sutcliffe.

“There were some tough conversations because the approach was ‘my client wants to do a live stream, make us an offer.’ But now, they are back to their day jobs and we’re having much more sensible and collaborative conversations. It’s not true of every agent and every agency, but, generally, they are now seeing us as a service provider rather than a chequebook.”

Nevertheless, there’s no escaping the numbers. Steve Machin reveals his former company, LiveFrom, paid out substantial sums to its artist partners in the past year. “LiveFrom did 400 shows last year, using about 1.5 petabytes of streaming data, and we wrote cheques to artists for $3million [€2.5m],” Machin tells IQ.

“There is a lot of content that has been filmed, shown once and is languishing, so there’s a wealth of under-monetised stuff”

“That $3m came from tickets and merch. We would bundle packages so that we’d have, for instance, a $10 [€8.50] ticket; a $30 [€25.50] ticket with a T-shirt; and a $70 [€59.30] ticket with a T-shirt and poster.

“We also got into a super bundle that involved a moderated Q&A with the band, which was a $75 [€63.50] ticket for a limited run of tickets. But we did it for a week, so you’d do 15 meet-and-greets a day, Monday to Friday, then the show would go out on the Friday night, and you’d have the Q&A afterwards. It generated a lot of money.”

While LiveFrom was all about live-streaming shows, Machin’s new operation, Concert Vision is developing a different business model. “It’s going to be like Disney Plus for concerts,” he says.

“So, we’re going to be licensing everything from Blondie or The Ramones at CBGBs, all the way through to all the Eagle Rock catalogue and then stuff that’s taking place in a month’s time. There is a lot of content that has been filmed, shown once and is languishing, so there’s just a wealth of under-monetised stuff for a mix of casual and super fans.”

Hundreds of new enterprises have taken advantage of the demand for entertainment over the past year, with varying degrees of success

Competition & consolidation
The relatively low cost to entry in the livestreaming sector means that hundreds of new enterprises have taken advantage of the demand for entertainment over the past year, with varying degrees of success.

Online events hosting service Hopin has been on a strategic shopping spree, acquiring the likes of Attendify, Boomset, Jamm, Streamable, StreamYard and Topi in its attempts to bolster its portfolio.

Other players such as Flymachine are expected to target independent venues, making it the indie to Live Nation’s Veeps, much in the way that Ticketfly was the indie to Ticketmaster.

And elsewhere, pure-play tech players like Mandolin and Maestro are offering back-end services, while other platforms such as Moment House have been compared to a Patreon model for music artists, thanks to its fan engagement capabilities.

“It will be tough for some of the smaller platforms to sustain a real business when they do not have the volume of performances”

“There are already a few companies that have quietly disappeared, and I think there will be a few more go the same way,” observes Salmon.

“There was a moment in the middle of it all when there were a bunch of crazy offers flying around – bidding wars between streaming companies and platforms who had only in been in business for a month – and that was not sustainable. So, in many ways, a bit of consolidation is probably a good thing.”

StageIt’s White agrees. “A lot of the companies that started in 2020 are now at the one-year anniversary and are wondering what to do as they figure out how to be a real business,” he says.

“It will be tough for some of the smaller platforms to sustain a real business when they do not have the volume of performances, so we’ll continue to see consolidation over the course of the next 12 months, in pretty significant ways.”

“The pandemic has been a catalyst for people taking livestreaming really seriously”

One operator that is benefitting from the mergers and acquisitions element is Melody VR, which in August 2020 pulled off the surprise purchase of Napster.

“We’ve rebranded as Napster, but we’re still operational as Melody VR,” explains Melody VR founder and CEO Anthony Matchett. “We’re re-building the Napster platform to have a lot of Melody’s content, to give it a real edge and create a service that isn’t really out there.”

Matchett is quick to acknowledge the role that the pandemic has played in helping to establish the credentials of livestreaming.

“It’s one of the sectors that got overlooked when it really probably shouldn’t have been,” he says. “But the pandemic has been a catalyst for people taking livestreaming really seriously, which is interesting because when you can’t tour, you suddenly realise that there was maybe a different way to do things, all along.”

“To say that it is here to stay would be an understatement – it’s very much part of the fabric now of live performance”

In terms of business models, StageIt’s White reveals that his company now operates on an 80/20 split with the artists – a deal he believes will become the industry norm. He adds, “To realise that you can still have an experience – which is not the same as being there – but you can do it from the comfort of your living room, on your big-screen TV, across your nice hi-fi system, and not have to pay $14 for a beer, has been a real eye-opening experience for a lot of people. Both fans and artists figured it out, so to say that it is here to stay would be an understatement – it’s very much part of the fabric now of live performance.”

The importance of control
Unsurprisingly, for a business that relies heavily on technology, there have been a number of broadcasting failures that have hit the headlines over the past year – notably a Marc Anthony show, and a live stream from the site of Glastonbury Festival. Despite such problems, consumer confidence has remained high, while for the streamers themselves, the lessons appear to revolve around ensuring they have control over all aspects of operations.

“There have been enough bad live streams where customers are asking why they paid £15 or whatever, especially with bands you thought would have done better. And fans only have so much patience with that stuff,” notes Driift’s Salmon.

“Look at what happened with us at Glastonbury: we delivered something that I’m hugely proud of, artistically, but with the access code issues that we had, which affected about 25% of ticket purchasers […] If anything is anything other than perfect these days, if you cannot access it immediately, we’re out, and that’s one of the great challenges of all of this.”

“Having numerous providers of tech trying to interlink with one another is where issues can occur”

Dissecting the Glastonbury experience, Salmon tells IQ, “The biggest takeaway for us was that having numerous providers of tech trying to interlink with one another is where issues can occur. Ultimately, the best solution is for a platform or a company like Driift to have everything housed within one vertical – to have ticketing, access codes, stream hosting, the video player itself all within one singular ecosystem.”

That’s a concept Napster’s Matchett recognises. “We don’t rely on anyone external, apart from internet providers,” he says. “So, the servers, the back end, the cameras, are all ours, because you cannot really rely on a third party when you are going to put your name to something. Ultimately, it’s your responsibility to the fan and the artist, so we do everything in-house to give us greater control. It’s more costly, but it provides stability, and artists knowing your stream isn’t going to fall over, is a really important element.”

Thankfully, the sector has seen many more successes than failures, with some events like LIVENow’s Studio 2054 show with Dua Lipa, in November 2020, introducing millions of new customers to the livestreaming concept. That event, along with the company’s growing roster of shows, has required an army of people to join the operation’s ranks.

LIVENow’s chief commercial officer, James Massing, who became employee number 12 in September 2020, reveals: “We’re now at more than 100 staff!”

“When the pandemic hit and live paused, we had to then create our [own] events”

Indeed, the pandemic meant a rapid re-examination of LIVENow’s remit was needed as the company pivoted to take advantage of the situation. “The business was originally set up to stream live events that were happening: we wanted to be the go-to place to stream an event anytime from anywhere in the world,” continues Massing.

“But when the pandemic hit and live paused, we had to then create our [own] events, and that’s why shows like Dua Lipa’s Studio 2054 originated.”

Acknowledging that control over such events is crucial, Massing adds, “We became a virtual venue, a promoter and a ticketing platform – we were investing in the content, investing in the show and then we were monetising that content through pay-per-view ticketing sales, bringing sponsors on board, sub-licensing after the event, and selling merch, which is a simple formula and very similar to what live music promoters do.”

Economies of Scale
While livestreaming allows artists to tap into a global reach, it’s not just established acts and big corporations that have been benefitting from the opportunities that the technology can deliver.

“We’ve also been approached by artist management and a couple of labels who would like to do album release events using our software”

Berlin-based promoters Z|art agency tapped into the possibilities of livestreaming to help expand its capabilities during the pandemic. MD Max Wentzler says the broadcast element will play a bigger role in the business as physical touring returns.

“As promoters of international acts, sometimes we only get two or three markets to play in and sometimes those markets are more of a logistical decision rather than based on the fans,” says Wentzler.

“Germany is huge and we have a lot of people living in densely populated areas outside of the popular media cities, which often means those people cannot get to the actual gig.”

He continues, “We see ourselves as an add-on to existing shows. We’ve also been approached by artist management and a couple of labels who would like to do album release events using our software – something we’ve successfully done for Giant Rooks who went into the charts at number three after the show.”

“Being existing promoters means we know the politics of the business… a pure tech company does not have the same knowledge”

Wentzler reveals that Z|art received funding from the German government to help it develop its livestreaming platform, while more recently, CTS Eventim has inked a deal for Z|art to distribute content.

“It was only us [in Germany] at the beginning, but relatively quickly there have been a couple of other livestreaming platforms that have launched here. They are more tech companies that developed software for conferences and other areas but who see music as a great market where there is high demand.

“But we’re still a little ahead of the curve, because we’ve been doing it a bit longer than the others, and the fact that we’re also existing promoters means we know the politics of the business and what is involved in putting together a show, whereas a pure tech company does not have that same knowledge.”

Of course, the ability of livestreaming to reach every device screen on the planet can pay dividends for acts hoping to build a fanbase. That realisation spurred Liverpool Sound City organisers to become early adopters of the technology.

“Fans of grassroots music from around the world are also coming into the platform to discover new talent”

“We’d been looking to branch out through some kind of digital strand for the company, even pre-pandemic,” explains Sound City marketing manager Sean Fay who talks up streaming’s ability to connect to a global audience, “because Sound City at its core is a music festival for new music discovery.”

He tells IQ, “For instance, we had a band called Say Sue Me from Korea, who are capable of selling out arenas in their own country, and we brought them to arguably the most famous music city in the world, Liverpool, where they played a tiny venue like the Cavern Club. But their hardcore fans back in Korea would love to see that, so that’s one of the reasons behind our investment into livestreaming.”

The move was accelerated when it became apparent that Fay and his colleagues could not even put on a gig by a band from around the corner. “It became a question of how can we continue to provide entertainment to audiences who come to our festival for music discovery, off the strength of our curation, as well as how we could help to support artists through the pandemic.”

As a result, Sound City launched its Guesthouse platform in April 2020, and since then, it has showcased more than 300 artists. “Everyone is looking forward to getting back out to gigs and festivals, but Guesthouse is very much here to stay as it’s a new opportunity for artists and we really believe it can continue to grow in the future. Fans of grassroots music from around the world are also coming into the platform to discover new talent,” reports Fay.

“We’ve found over the past 16 months is that a lot of artists do not have a good way to communicate with their fans”

Wentzler says Z|art is also advising acts on how they can use the broadcast format over a longer period of time “to help build a fanbase and strengthen those artist/fan community relationships.” He discloses, “One of the things we’ve found over the past 16 months is that a lot of artists do not have a good way to communicate with their fans – they maybe have Instagram or Facebook, but that’s not wholly reliable with the way the algorithms work.”

And, of course, the soar-away success of livestreaming has also led to the birth of a support industry. Switchboard Live, for instance, has a remit to help operators boost the number of eyes that see their content.

“Our SaaS [software as a service] application was built to manage the distribution and syndication of live content to more than one social channel,” says Switchboard Live CEO Rudy J. Ellis. “Our end goal is to get any type of live content creator or publisher more viewers on their live streams by leveraging multi-streaming, which is the ability to take that one single stream and publish it to multiple social destinations at the same time.”

Recently, Ellis oversaw the launch of a new product called StreamShare that allows clients to invite participants, sponsors, brands, influencers and ambassadors to opt-in their own social channels, so that they can also carry content live.

“What we’ve built was germane to the pandemic, where now you have more people watching content on different platforms”

“Switchboard Live has experienced 4x growth in monthly subscribers since the beginning of the pandemic, primarily due to the fact that a lot of people were scrambling to figure how they could take an in-person event to online.”

Ellis adds, “What we’ve built was germane to the pandemic, where now you have more people watching content on different platforms. Some people who have a Facebook account may not have a YouTube account, for instance, so we are facilitating the video to make it to those platforms.”

Experience is Key
With so many platforms now competing for attention, those that are focussing on the details may well emerge triumphant, as delivering excitement to fans who watch online will undoubtedly help persuade those consumers to return again and again.

Revealing that Z|art has established set-ups that allow events to break even after just 300 or 500 ticket sales, Wentzler says that the company has spent much of the last year creating something unique.

“We’ve tried to emulate the gig experience, so that when you buy a ticket you get to the venue door and enter into the foyer”

“My business partner, Hauke [Steinhof], and I have always been interested in technology, behavioural economics and psychology, and we’ve approached our events in a way that we try to create an experience from the point you buy a ticket to when you leave the show as well. So, we brought that same ethos to our livestreaming concept,” says Wentzler.

“We’ve tried to emulate the gig experience, so that when you buy a ticket you get to the venue door and enter into the foyer where there is a merch stand and a virtual bar. If you visit the merch stand and click on an item, it will directly link to the band’s online merch store, so 100% of the revenue goes to the artists.

“The virtual bar is a pure interactive space where you’re thrown together with four or five random fans from wherever in the world they’re watching. And in the concert room you’re thrown together with four random people to emulate the people around you at a gig: you can interact with them, or mute them, which is maybe something we’d like to have in real life when we’re at a gig too.”

And as a promoter, Wentzler has already identified solutions to address key areas of concern for event organisers. “If a show in Berlin is sold out but Hamburg isn’t, we can geoblock off Hamburg plus 20 or 30 or 40 kilometres. And then, if Hamburg also sells out, we can bring those people back in.”

“If a show in Berlin is sold out but Hamburg isn’t, we can geoblock off Hamburg plus 20 or 30 or 40 kilometres”

Licensing & Rights
Although the revenues are flowing, the elephant in the livestreaming room remains the question over rights, which many territories are still trying to come to an agreement on.

Concert Vision’s Machin declares, “The bit that remains elusive is the licensing and the rights stuff, and there will be a natural coalescing around the organisations that get those rights nailed down.”

Napster’s Matchett comments, “A lot of people who have entered the space don’t really understand the rights. So maybe as well as consolidation, we’ll just see some of the start-ups who lacked the tech infrastructure or the means to secure the rights licences just fading away.”

Machin adds, “The licensing side is definitely going to become a driver in livestreaming as the market matures. The rights stuff is going to bite a load of people on the ass. It needs solving and we have a solution that Concert Vision will be marketing later in the year.”

“The rights stuff is going to bite a load of people on the ass”

Noting that the rights issues become hugely complex when multiple territories are involved, Machin predicts that some platforms may opt to only operate in certain countries. “National players might spring up, so that anyone that does a deal with the PRS in the UK might end up having a different approach and a different model to someone else in the States who has a deal with ASCAP or BMI,” he says.

The Future
Far from spelling the end of the livestreaming boom, the return of live events is invigorating action in the sector, with many predicting that most tours will now involve at least one livestream show.

Napster’s Matchett says, “From the artist side, if they’re already doing the show, they can see the livestreaming side as pure upside. If they can sell an additional 40,000 tickets for the live stream, then wonderful. That’s part of the mentality shift: people now realise there is actual money in livestreaming, whereas a few months ago I’m not sure anyone had really done it that successfully.”

While the livestreaming business is having a significant impact on the popular music world, Wentzler says Z|art is taking lessons from its classical compatriots. “The philharmonic in Berlin has been running its own livestreaming for years, so we can maybe look to the classical world to learn a bit more and take that as inspiration,” says Wentzler. “In fact, we’ve recently started to do dynamic pricing on ticketing – something the classical world has been doing for years too.”

“The future will depend on where you fit your livestream element”

Predicting massive growth in the years ahead, StageIt chief Matchett is eyeing global expansion. “Overall, what we’re going to see is just 100% more livestreaming,” he states. “Our user base and artist base is broader than North America. It’s still about 65% North America, but we’ve got quite a footprint in Ireland and the UK, and we’re now live in South Africa and Nigeria and starting to do a good volume of shows there.”

Sutcliffe is similarly optimistic about the year ahead for LIVENow, highlighting that the pent-up demand for live music brings real opportunities. “There are going to be waiting lists of people who could not get a ticket to the actual show for any number of reasons […] and that’s where livestreaming can really layer in.”

Machin concludes that the development of the online gig will open doors for operations like Concert Live to introduce other entertainment packages for fans. “Imagine it’s David Bowie’s birthday, so you do a Bowie Weekend where you make available all of his concert video for fans to watch, but crucially you also allow those fans to interact, because we’ve discovered that the ability for fans to connect around the world is a significant part of the streaming experience.”

Driift’s Salmon believes that there is still some evolution needed in livestreaming, but the format has now been established, thanks to the revenues it can provide. “The future will depend on where you fit your livestream element,” he says.

“We’re finding our position within the music ecosystem, working with people rather than against them”

“Do you fit it around an album campaign, or an album launch, or an album announce, or a tour announce, or the beginning of a tour, or the end of a tour? I think you can look at it in all those ways, but it will all depend on the type of artist, type of demographic, genre of music and so many other factors.”

Massing highlights the growing desire of artists to cut their carbon footprints as another driver. “We know that artists are probably going to perform fewer times on a tour but do bigger shows as they try to address sustainability,” he says.

“We’re finding our position within the music ecosystem, working with people rather than against them,” continues Massing.

“LIVENow has sold tickets across 190 countries, our platform is in ten languages, and we have a proven ability to reach and engage audiences live for the artist. So we’re expecting huge growth in terms of the number of events on the platform in the year ahead.”

 


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We for India benefit show raises $5m for Covid relief

We for India, a livestreamed fundraising event featuring performances from Ed Sheeran, Nile Rodgers, Annie Lennox and AR Rahman, raised more than US$5 million for the India Covid Response Fund, organisers have announced.

Held on Sunday 15 August 2021, India’s 75th independence day, the show featured more than 100 musicians, actors, film directors, TV stars and other celebrities and was broadcast to a global audience on Facebook. Other participants included Steven Spielberg, Mick Jagger and Indian film stars Ajay Devgan, Hrithik Roshan, Nagarjuna and Arjun Kapoor.

Shibasish Sarkar, group CEO of Reliance Entertainment, which organised We for India in association with GiveIndia, Facebook and the UN platform The World We Want, says: “The honest and sincere effort of our team and our partners is the reason behind the great success of this event. I would like to extend my gratitude to all the talent, artists, philanthropists and everyone who supported this fundraiser. It is our humble contribution to our nation’s ongoing battle against the invisible enemy.”

“I would like to extend my gratitude to all the talent, artists, philanthropists and everyone who supported this fundraiser”

The money, around 370m rupees, was raised from a combination of corporate partners, philanthropic foundations and individual donors, reports IANS. It follows a similar event, I for India, which raised $7m in May 2020.

Atul Satija, CEO of GiveIndia, comments: “We are grateful for all the support we have received from each and everyone who donated and came together to make We For India such an impactful journey. Thank you for making it a success and contributing to our India Covid Response Fund. We all know that the pandemic and the suffering it has caused is far from over. We for India is a great, timely initiative to remind us of the need to continue to provide humanitarian aid and strengthen our health infrastructure.”

“The great success of this initiative is the result of the collective efforts of so many people, and truly epitomises the power of communities,” Manish Chopra, director and head of partnerships for Facebook India, adds. “As Facebook, we are proud to have supported the voice of leading artists from all over the world and partnered Give India and Reliance Entertainment in this laudable effort towards Covid relief.”

 


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Kanye West sets new livestream record on Apple Music

Kanye West’s second album listening party at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium (cap. 71,000) in Atlanta last Thursday (5 August) was reportedly Apple Music’s biggest-ever live stream.

The live stream of West previewing his upcoming album ‘Donda’ attracted 5.4 million viewers on Apple Music – more than double the current livestream record on Twitch – which set a new record for the streaming service, according to Billboard.

The previous record was set by West’s first listening event at the stadium on 22 July, which saw 3.3 million people tune in.

West also livestreamed from a dressing room at the stadium ahead of the show, with fans able to watch him recording, exercising and sleeping for a number of hours.

Billboard also cites sources who claim that West made $7 million (€5.9m) from in-person merch sales during the second ‘Donda’ event, which recorded 40,000 ticketed fans in attendance.

West made $7 million (€5.9m) from in-person merch sales during the second ‘Donda’ event

Of the 400,000 fans, a stadium rep told Billboard that four people got a vaccine shot offered by the event that evening.

The event provided Pfizer shots for those who haven’t already taken the shot to help slow the transmission of Covid-19 but very few took up the offer – despite the venue promoting its efforts.

The event’s push for fans to get vaccinated comes as Live Nation and AEG, the world’s biggest live entertainment companies, have announced various vaccine mandates.

Live Nation announced that artists would be given the choice as to whether they require all concertgoers and venue staff to be vaccinated for their US shows, and it is understood a similar model will likely be rolled out internationally.

While AEG Presents, AEG’s concert promotion division, will additionally require all fans in the US to be vaccinated from 1 October.

 


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YouTube, Live Nation open livestreaming-focused venue

YouTube Theatre, the new 6,000-seat live music and entertainment venue located at Hollywood Park in California, is now open.

The venue’s initial slate of events spans September, October and November and will culminate in a grand opening this winter when YouTube Theatre and Live Nation, the venue’s exclusive booking promoter, will announce the first artist residency.

Throughout autumn, the YouTube Theatre will host concerts with the likes of Pitbull, Iggy Azalea, TLC, Evanescence, Halestorm, Marina (and the Diamonds) and Louis Tomlinson, as well as awards shows, esports competitions, community gatherings and conferences.

The state-of-the-art indoor venue has a focus on digital technology, with capabilities to “seamlessly” stream live events to YouTube’s two billion global monthly users.

The three-story, 227,000-square-foot venue is part of Hollywood Park, a privately funded 300-acre sports and entertainment destination being developed by Kroenke.

“YouTube Theatre will share ​the event​ experience with our two billion global monthly users through live streams and VOD”

The YouTube Theatre is housed under the same roof canopy as the 70,000-capacity SoFi Stadium (home to American football teams, Los Angeles Rams and Los Angeles Chargers) and the American Airlines Plaza.

“We couldn’t be more thrilled to be the exclusive promoters of this incredibly dynamic venue coming alive in Los Angeles,” says Rich Best, Live Nation’s regional head of talent for California. “Alongside Hollywood Park, we plan to make this a must-visit live entertainment venue and we can’t wait to unveil what is in store for this unique space.”

Angela Courtin, VP of brand marketing, YouTube, added: “YouTube Theatre will drive the uniqueness of YouTube by combining physical, ‘in real life’ events that bring creators and fans together, while simultaneously sharing ​that same event​ experience with our two billion global monthly users through live streams and VOD content.”

Jason Gannon, managing director, SoFi Stadium and Hollywood Park, says: “When he set out to build YouTube Theatre, Stan Kroenke envisioned an intimate, world-class venue that exemplified three core aspects: technology, creativity, and entertainment. We cannot imagine a better partner to help us bring this vision to life than YouTube.”

 


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VNUE to acquire livestreaming company Stageit

Music technology company VNUE will acquire livestreaming platform StageIt in a deal that will allegedly add over $9 million in revenue and access to performers and creators.

The deal brings fans and technology to VNUE’s portfolio, in addition to boosting the company’s Soundstr platform with music recognition technology.

The companies expect to close within 60 days, pending the completion of diligence and the required financial audit. Stageit will become a wholly-owned subsidiary of VNUE. Further terms of the deal were not disclosed.

According to the announcement, StageIt, launched by musician Evan Lowenstein in 2010, hosted 6,280 shows in 2020 and paid out over $7m to artists. The platform has over 58,000 performers and over 900,000 users from 135 countries.

The platform is complimentary with VNUE’s set.fm ‘instant live‘ mobile and web service, and the company will add a feature that allows fans to enjoy a livestream and purchase the audio of the performance immediately afterwards.

“The addition of StageIt will enable the first full monetisation suite for venues, festivals and events”

Zach Bair, CEO of VNUE, says: “The acquisition of StageIt represents the first step in a multi-pronged plan to grow the business and enhance shareholder value, as I have committed to since day one.

“The company will pursue both organic and inorganic opportunities that are synergistic, and with StageIt, we have incredible synergy not just with the StageIt platform and how we can integrate with our existing content platforms such as set.fm, but with the incredible leadership and talent pool that we will now have access to in order to move our Soundstr technology forward.”

Stephen White, Stageit’s CEO since 2020, says: “VNUE, as their name suggests, has been creating a platform for artists, labels, rights holders and venue operators that enhances revenue and helps resolve complex rights compliance.

“The addition of StageIt will enable the first full monetisation suite for venues, festivals and events that will make it simple for our clients and operators to generate more revenue and embrace the hybrid future that livestreaming provides. We couldn’t be more excited to join Zach and the VNUE team and to help push this vision forward.”

 


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BTS sell 1.33m tickets for Muster Sowoozoo live stream

BTS 2021 Muster Sowoozoo, the recent two-day virtual concert with K-pop superstars BTS, was attended by 1.33 million unique viewers from 195 countries, livestreaming platform VenewLive has revealed.

Muster Sowoozoo, which celebrated the boy band’s eighth anniversary, comprised two live broadcasts from Seoul, on 13 and 14 June. It is the latest high-profile livestreamed event for the Korean act, following several record-breaking virtual shows in 2020.

Tickets were priced ₩49,500 (US$43.80) for one day or ₩90,000 ($79.60) for both shows, with a special 4K HD/multi-view package (₩59,500/$52.60 per day) available for members of BTS’s official fan club. By IQ’s calculations, that results in a gross of over US$58 million from ticket sales alone; the Indian Express estimates the total gross of more than $71 million including merch sales.

“We were thrilled … with the show’s overwhelming success and turn-out”

In addition to the concerts, which fans with ‘multi-view’ tickets could watch from a variety of vantage points, VenewLive provided a chat feature for fans which was also open to band members. “The chat activity increased dramatically once BTS sent their messages, energising fans who realised that BTS was in the chat as well,” says VenewLive’s CEO John Lee.

In a statement, Lee comments: “We were thrilled to be given the opportunity to showcase BTS’s amazing talent – and even more thrilled with the show’s overwhelming success and turn-out. Once again, VenewLive proved it is the ultimate platform for delivering the world’s best virtual concert experiences. Each BTS concert has pushed the envelope further in terms of what technology and talent can do to elevate the fan experience and this concert was no different.”

VenewLive is partially owned by BTS’s label and management company, Hybe (formerly Big Hit Entertainment).

 


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Ed Sheeran smashes TikTok livestreaming record

Ed Sheeran has set a new record for the most-watched live music performance on the viral short-form video app TikTok.

The record-breaking live stream took place last Friday (25 June) at Sheeran’s home football ground of Portman Road, Ipswich Town, UK, as part of TikTok’s partnership with UEFA (The Union of European Football Associations) during the Euro 2020 tournament.

More than 5.5 million unique viewers tuned in to the singer’s hour-long TikTok live stream (dubbed the TikTok UEFA EURO 2020 Show) and the two replays the following day.

According to the platform, the show was the biggest-ever live music performance on TikTok, surpassing the 4 million people who tuned in for Justin Bieber’s Valentine’s Day TikTok live stream in February.

“The bar for what is possible within the livestreaming format has been creatively raised”

The spectator-free show, directed by Emil Nava and Hamish Hamilton, incorporated special effects, augmented reality and prominent TikTok stars. It also marked the live premiere of Sheeran’s new single ‘Bad Habits’.

“The TikTok UEFA 2020 Show was an incredible moment for our community around the world and a turning point for live music streaming,” says Paul Hourican, head of music operations UK TikTok. “The bar for what is possible within the livestreaming format has been creatively raised and it has been shown how big and ambitious TikTok can be for artists.”

Ed Howard, co-president of Sheeran’s record label, Atlantic Records, added: “For Ed, Grumpy Old Management and Atlantic, uniting and reaching their global fan base was imperative for the launch of their new campaign, as well as our close partnership with Paul and the entire TikTok team enabled us to achieve this goal in a uniquely creative way.”

 


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Facebook to waive commission on live streams until 2023

Facebook will not charge a fee to content creators for at least the next two years, CEO Mark Zuckerberg has announced.

“To help more creators make a living on our platforms, we’re going to keep paid online events, fan subscriptions, badges, and our upcoming independent news products free for creators until 2023,” Zuckerberg (pictured) writes. “And when we do introduce a revenue share, it will be less than the 30% that Apple and others take.”

The company recently rolled out its paid online events functionality to a further 24 countries, bringing the total territories where creators such as musicians can sell tickets for virtual events to 44.

Introduced in April 2020 in response to the boom in livestreamed events, the feature effectively allows Facebook pages to sell digital tickets for virtual shows, whether livestreamed via Facebook’s own Facebook Live or a third-party site.

Facebook had previously said it would take no commission on paid online events until August 2021.

 


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Driift “mortified” about Glasto technical issues

Livestreaming business Driift has “apologised unreservedly” for the technical issues that prevented thousands of ticketholders from accessing Glastonbury’s global live stream event on Saturday (22 May).

Fans in the UK who bought ‘Live at Worthy Farm’ tickets (priced at £20) were unable to watch performances from the likes of Coldplay, Jorja Smith and George Ezra after their unique codes were flagged as invalid.

Two hours after the event started (7 pm local time), Driift were forced to release a free link to the stream and offer refunds.

The company, which has hosted livestreams for Laura Marling, Nick Cave, Andrea Bocelli and Kylie Minogue, has now issued an apology and a statement explaining that a third-party provider was partially responsible for the fault.

“Driift is not a tech business or a media platform, and we rely on a third party company for certain aspects of protecting the stream. This provider has now identified the cause of last night’s problems, and, although we are awaiting a full technical report, there were no subsequent issues for ticket buyers accessing later streams for North America or Australia.”

Glastonbury organiser Emily Eavis shared a statement on Twitter saying she was “gutted” about the technical issues experienced by some viewers but that despite the problems, “the Glastonbury community has showed us such solidarity and love and we are overwhelmed by your generosity, patience, kindness and appreciation of the incredible film, which was so wonderfully put together by [Grammy award-nominated director] Paul Dugdale”

“We made no financial gain from this livestream event, and we hoped it would generate much needed revenue for the festival”

Driift added that the company “made no financial gain from this livestream event, and we hoped it would generate much needed revenue for the festival”.

“In that spirit, we sincerely hope that those who encountered problems will take the opportunity to watch and enjoy the event today, and that many more will buy tickets to support the festival and its three associated charities.”

Live at Worthy Farm was set up to support Glastonbury’s three main charitable partners, Oxfam, Greenpeace and WaterAid, as well as helping to secure next year’s edition of the flagship festival.

Stagehand, the live production hardship fund that has been providing financial support to crew members throughout the pandemic, will receive the proceeds from a limited edition line-up poster for the event.

The five-hour production also saw performances from Damon Albarn, Haim, Idles, Kano, Michael Kiwanuka, Wolf Alice and DJ Honey Dijon across the site’s landmarks.

Three other streams set up to suit other timezones were unaffected by the malfunction.

 


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