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Going live: The legalities of paid live streams

The Covid-19 lockdowns around the world have put an end to multiple big-name festivals this year, as well as concerts of all kinds, from huge artists to those playing local venues.

With the future of what a live event will look like in a post-lockdown world still unclear, musicians are turning to alternative methods to reach their audiences. Livestreaming is now an increasingly vital tool, enabling musicians to reach audiences in real time and in a format that most closely reflects live performance. It seems clear that in the near term, virtual concerts will become the new normal. Take One World: Together At Home as just one example of how streaming can be harnessed to deliver live entertainment on a global scale.

Livestreaming platforms make this possible. The technological and operational investment required to operate a stable multifunctional and global online livestreaming capability, at scale, is huge. It is not surprising that the most capable and technically attractive platforms are operated by major tech companies: Facebook, Google, Amazon, etc.

Some platforms have already collaborated with music industry players to support artists’ transition from venues to home. However, artists also need to be aware of how to effectively monetise their live streams, and the applicable rules and regulations that must be followed.

Live streamers are usually required to meet certain criteria, and artists and event organisers should become familiar with each livestreaming platform’s monetisation policies and how to access them. Artists must also check the platform’s terms and conditions, and remember they are responsible for all rights and clearances necessary to perform their music.

Artists can earn revenue by enabling ads placed before, after, or embedded within content. Advertisers typically pay on a cost-per-click or cost-per-view basis, so a live streamer will only be paid if a user clicks on the advert or watches it for a certain period of time. However, an artist should balance this with the risk of putting fans off for using too many.

Brands may also pay artists to produce promoted content or direct viewers to purchase a brand’s products by posting links or discount codes for particular sites, earning the streamer commission on any sales.

Artists need to be aware of how to effectively monetise their live streams, and the applicable rules and regulations that must be followed

In the UK, any advertising or promotions need to comply with the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations (the ‘Regulations’) and the UK Code of Non-broadcast Advertising and Direct and Promotional Marketing (the ‘CAP Code’).

The Regulations provide protection to consumers against unfair practices. The CAP Code includes rules about how advertising should be recognisable, and other rules to prevent viewers being misled. If live streamers breach these, the Advertising Standards Agency can require the amendment or withdrawal of an ad, and there are other sanctions co-ordinated through CAP that can be employed in different circumstances.

Many streaming services make it easy for users to give donations to a streamer, and streamers may incentivise these by offering exclusive content. Artists should be aware that most platforms will take a cut. Subscriptions allow paying subscribers to access extra perks such as exclusive content. This is subject to streaming services’ policies and, as with donations, they are likely to take a cut on fees.

Services such as Patreon also allow patrons to directly fund a live streamer, or GoFundMe can finance a project in advance. Just as artists sell merchandise on tour, online store services can be used to sell designs. To ensure compliance with consumer law, streamers may elect to use existing sites such as Merch by Amazon. Certain livestreaming platforms also merchandise to be advertised. YouTube, for example, allows eligible channels to showcase their official branded merchandise on the channel’s page.

Livestreaming has opened up a way for artists to reach their audiences, and a potential revenue stream while live events cannot go ahead. Platforms are adapting in real time to a huge surge in demand while Covid-19 prevents a true live experience.

Considering the rules and regulations involved and, where applicable, seeking advice to ensure compliance with these, will be essential to prevent any regulator- or platform-imposed penalties affecting the artist’s ability to livestream.

 


Gregor Pryor is co-chair of the entertainment and media industry group at law firm Reed Smith.

Gaming platform Roblox steps up interest in music

Game creation platform Roblox has announced a partnership with Marshmello label Monstercat and appointed a global head of music, as the company makes moves in the music space.

In April, Roblox, a tween-friendly virtual gaming/social media platform, became the latest gaming platform to create a virtual concert venue, hosting an in-game live stream of the Lady Gaga-curated benefit concert One World: Together at Home.

Roblox users could complete quests based on the concert and wear free virtual merchandise, such as a caps, headphones and rucksacks, to show support for the event.

The virtual concert was part of Roblox’s growing interaction with the music business, as Jon Vlassopulos, a former director of business development at BMG and founder of Tinder-style swiping music discovery app Fab.fm, heads up music strategy at the company.

The partnership gives Roblox developers access to a new library of music content to use when making games for the platform

Roblox has also recently joined social virtual-reality platform Sansar and video game developer Psyonix in partnering with Canadian indie label Monstercat, which also has its own licensing subscription service to allow game streamers to use its music on YouTube and Twitch.

The partnership gives Roblox developers access to a new library of music content to use when making games for the platform, which is comprised of millions of games built by professional developers and the Roblox user community.

“Proudly announcing our new partnership with Roblox,” reads a post on the Monstercat Twitter page. “Our mission to empower creators continues with access to over 50 tracks, with more music added soon. Can’t wait to see your creations in-game!”

As well as “empowering creators”, the partnership aims to allow artists to use the site as a promotional outlet, targeting Roblox’s 150 million active monthly users.

The potential for crossover between gaming and live music has been exemplified recently by events such as Travis Scott’s ‘Astronomical’ in Fortnite Battle Royale, which drew 27.7m viewers, and Marshmello’s famous record-breaking 2019 in-game appearance, also in Fortnite, with IQ calculating that gamers could represent 750m new live music fans.

 


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Global Citizen concert raises $6.9bn to tackle Covid-19

International advocacy platform Global Citizen has raised almost US$7 billion in pledges from governments, corporations and philanthropists following its Global Goal live music event and summit.

Global Goal: Unite For Our Future was broadcast on Saturday (27 June), with performances from Miley Cyrus, who covered the Beatles’ ‘Help!’ in an empty Rose Bowl Stadium; Jennifer Hudson, who sang ‘Where Peaceful Waters Flow’ from a boat on the Chicago River; and Coldplay, who dedicated their performance of ‘Paradise’ to Elijah McClain, a young black man who died in police custody in Denver last year.

Justin Bieber, Shakira, Usher, Christine and the Queens, Chloe x Halle and J Balvin were among others to perform in the virtual concert, which was produced by entertainment giants including Live Nation, Scooter Braun and SB Projects, Roc Nation, Universal Music Group, Maverick and Hamish Hamilton’s Done+Dusted.

The summit and concert aired in over 180 countries and was streamed global on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. The event raised $1.5bn in cash grants and $5.4bn in loans from the European Investment Bank in partnership with Global Goal co-organiser the European Commission.

“The $6.9bn that was pledged today to support the world’s poorest and most marginalised communities is an incredible next step on our journey out of the Covid-19 era”

The money is to be used to fund research for Covid-19 tests, treatments and vaccines and to ensure fair access to medical help for all, in a bid to combat the disproportionate impact of the disease on marginalised and disadvantaged communities, as part of the World Health Organisation’s Access to Covid-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator plan.

The event came as the follow-up to Global Citizen’s One World: Together at Home concert, which generated almost US$128 million for the World Health Organisation’s Covid-19 solidarity response fund in April.

“Global Goal: Unite for Our Future was launched in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, and we are proud to join the European Commission, and over 40 governments from around the world, to ensure Covid-19 tests, treatments and vaccines would be made available for everyone, everywhere,” says Global Citizen CEO, Hugh Evans.

“The $6.9bn that was pledged today to support the world’s poorest and most marginalised communities is an incredible next step on our journey out of the Covid-19 era, but there is more still to be done as no one is safe until everyone is safe.”

 


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Global Citizen prepares for One World follow-up event

International advocacy platform Global Citizen has announced the full line-up for the upcoming Global Goal: Unite for our Future charity event, a follow-up from its record-breaking One World: Together at Home concert.

Together with the European Commission, Global Citizen states it is organising the virtual summit and concert to highlight “the disproportionate impact” that Covid-19 has on marginalised communities, including people of color, those living in extreme poverty and other discriminated communities.

The concert, which airs on 27 June on television and digital channels, will feature performances from Miley Cyrus, Coldplay, Justin Bieber, Christine and the Queens, Usher, J Balvin, Shakira and Jennifer Hudson, among others.

The event is the second organised by Global Citizen to raise funds to help those affected by Covid-19. One World: Together at Home, put on in conjunction with Lady Gaga, set a new record for the most money raised by a remote music festival, generating almost US$128 million for the World Health Organisation’s Covid-19 solidarity response fund.

“If we are to end Covid-19 for all, we need our world leaders to commit the billions of dollars needed to equitably deliver testing, treatments, and vaccines”

“Global Citizens around the world are calling for systemic change, change that brings about justice for everyone, everywhere, regardless of where they were born or the colour of their skin,” comments Hugh Evans, co-founder and CEO of Global Citizen.

“If we are to end Covid-19 for all, we need our world leaders to commit the billions of dollars needed to equitably deliver testing, treatments, and vaccines.”

Evans adds that Global Goal aims to “bring the centuries-old concept of music as a motivator for change and unity, together with science and data, to honour the problem solvers who are racing to not only create the cure for Covid-19, but also to ensure that it’s available for everyone who needs it.”

The concert will be available to watch in over 30 countries around the world, broadcast on channels including ARD, Canal+ Group and RTVE in Europe; Bell Media, CBC, Citytv, and Global TV in Canada; NBC and iHeartMedia in the US; Grupo Globo in Brazil; MultiChoice Group and SABC in Africa; Fuji TV and Star India in Asia; and Channel Nine in Australia.

It will also be streamed on global platforms including Apple, Brut, Roku, Insight TV, TIDAL, Twitch, Twitter, Yahoo!, and YouTube. Additional broadcasters include BARÇA TV, Bloomberg Television, Fundación Azteca, Mediacorp, MSNBC, MTV International, SiriusXM, Sony Channel Latin America, and Turner Latin America. Viewers are advised to check local listings for start times.

Photo: © Raph_PH on Flickr (CC BY 2.0)


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Chinese, Korean entertainment giants unite for benefit show

Chinese entertainment agency Freegos Entertainment and Korean media platform KVLY are organising a livestreamed benefit concert dubbed We Are The World 2020, scheduled to take place on 30 April.

The charity concert takes a similar format to that of Global Citizen’s recent One World: Together at Home show, with artists performing from different locations around the world.

According to the Korea Times, the state-affiliated China Benevolent General Association is inviting Korean record labels to take part in the concert, which could see Korean content appear on online platforms in China for the first time since 2016.

The event will be broadcast live on YouTube and Chinese streaming platforms, featuring acts including Taiwanese musician Jay Chou, Hong Kong singer Jacky Cheung and G-Dragon of the K-pop band BigBang.

The charity concert takes a similar format to that of the recent One World show, with artists performing from different locations around the world

The concert takes its name from the 1985 charity single We Are The World, co-written by Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie and recorded by ‘supergroup’ USA for Africa. The single was performed live at Live Aid that same year.

Viewers will be able to donate in real-time during the concert to the World Health Organisation’s Covid-19 solidarity response fund and Korean welfare institution, the Community Chest of Korea.

The New Straits Times reports that the event has received investment from NetEase Music, one of China’s leading music platforms, and cosmetics and media commerce company VT GMP, known for its work on the BTS perfume.

Other sponsors reportedly include Chinese Association of Performing Arts and the Chinese Charity Foundation.

Photo: Gene Wang/Flickr (CC BY  2.0) (cropped)

 


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Footage from major fests to be shown in WMG’s PlayOn Fest

Past performances at major festivals including Coachella, Primavera Sound and Rock in Rio, as well as from venues such as the O2 Arena, will be streamed as part of Warner Music Group’s three-day virtual event, PlayOn Fest.

The event, which kicks off on Friday (24 April) at midday EDT will stream live for 72 hours via the Songkick YouTube channel, allowing fans to “relive epic performances for one time only”.

The virtual festival will raise funds for the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Covid-19 solidarity response fund through the sale of merchandise and donations.

Performances from over 65 acts, including Ed Sheeran, Cardi B, Coldplay, Twenty One Pilots, Bruno Mars, Janelle Monáe, Green Day and Slipknot will be broadcast over the three-day event.

“PlayOn Fest is a great way to come together, enjoy good music and company, and support the WHO’s most urgent global work to combat Covid-19”

PlayOn Fest will include festival footage from Coachella, Lollapalooza, Bonnaroo, Primavera Sound and Rock In Rio, as well as live shows from London’s O2 Arena, Sydney Opera House and Red Rocks Amphitheatre.

“During this pandemic, we are all searching for ways to stay connected,” says Elizabeth Cousens, president and CEO of the UN Foundation, which powers the WHO’s Covid-19 fund.

“The PlayOn Fest is a great way to come together, enjoy good music and company, and support the World Health Organization’s most urgent global work to combat Covid-19.”

Over the weekend, the Global Citizen-organised, Lady Gaga-curated One World: Together at Home benefit concert, which featured live performances from acts in real time, raised $127 million for the WHO’s fund.

Read more about the booming business of livestreaming here.

Photo: slgckgc/Flickr (CC BY 2.0) (cropped)

 


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One World: Together at Home raises $127m for Covid-19 relief

One World: Together at Home, the Global Citizen-organised, Lady Gaga-curated livestreamed benefit concert, generated US$127 million worth of funding commitments for the World Health Organization (WHO)’s Covid-19 solidarity response fund, organisers have announced.

The eight-hour event, first announced earlier this month, comprised a six-hour digital stream followed by a two-hour broadcast TV special. In total, Together at Home was seen by billions of people in over 175 countries, according to Global Citizen.

The two-hour television special – broadcast on Saturday 18 April in North America and Sunday 19 April in the UK and Europe – featured performances by Sir Elton John, Taylor Swift, the Rolling Stones, Eddie Vedder, Billie Eilish, Stevie Wonder, Beyoncé, Sir Paul McCartney, Lizzo and Jennifer Lopez, while non-music guests included Matthew McConaughey, Idris Elba, David Beckham, Oprah Winfrey and former US first ladies Laura Bush and Michelle Obama.

Notable corporate donorsinclude the Coca-Cola Company, Vodafone, Citi, IBM, PepsiCo, Johnson & Johnson and Procter & Gamble

The digital stream, meanwhile, included Christine and the Queens, Michael Bublé, the Killers, John Legend, Jess Flynne, Annie Lennox and Rita Ora, among others.

Notable corporate donors who backed the event include the Coca-Cola Company, Vodafone, Citi, IBM, PepsiCo, Johnson & Johnson and Procter & Gamble, with One World also winning support from notable philanthropists, as well as private donors.

Donations to the fund will support WHO’s work around the world, as well as the vaccine development alliance Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef).

 


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A new dawn of digital: Behind livestreaming’s “massive explosion”

In the wake of the coronavirus crisis, livestreaming is being used by organisers and artists alike in ever more diverse, versatile and creative ways, as virtual events and interactions help to keep brands alive, fans engaged and revenue flowing.

The One World: Together at Home took place over the weekend, becoming one of the biggest livestreamed music events in history. The mammoth livestreamed benefit concert, co-curated by Lady Gaga and organised by the World Health Organisation and Global Citizen, raised almost $128 million for vaccine development and local and regional charities.

The event has been compared by some to an online Live Aid – although organisers state One World is not a traditional fundraiser, with the majority of money raised by corporate partners and philanthropists, rather than by individuals.

The event featured the likes of Taylor Swift, Stevie Wonder, Celine Dion, Billie Eilish, Lizzo, Chris Martin, Rita Ora, Usher, Elton John and Paul McCartney, in celebration of frontline health workers and in support of the WHO’s Covid-19 solidarity fund.

The concert was split into two parts, with a six-hour “pre-show” streamed on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube; followed by the main two-hour broadcast, which was shown simultaneously by all three of the main US TV networks. The event also appeared on the UK’s BBC on Sunday evening (19 April), as well as on streaming services including Alibaba, Amazon Prime Video, Apple, LiveXLive, Tencent, Tidal, Twitch and YouTube, as well as airing inside virtual multiplayer game Roblox.

Elsewhere, livestreaming has been used to raise funds for those within the live events industry, such as those put on by Beatport, Bandsintown, TicketCo, or as a goodwill gesture to fans missing out on a shutdown festival, as in the case of DGTL Amsterdam, Lollapalooza Chile and Estéreo Picnic in Colombia, among others.

“I think people aren’t so bullish at the moment, and are trying to help each other out”

The breadth of opportunities in livestreaming is huge, with some monetising via an informal virtual busking, or tip jar model, through charitable donations, or via a ticketed, pay-per-view or subscription model.

For Cirque du Soleil, livestreaming is simply acting as a way to give viewers an escape from life under quarantine. The company’s new CirqueConnect content hub premieres a 60-minute special featuring highlights from live shows each week, before adding the content to an archive together with virtual reality experiences, tutorials and music videos.

“Digital is not the same as live, but it is the best we can do now,”  Sheila Morin, Cirque du Soleil’s chief marketing and experience officer tells IQ. “The goal is to make it easy for fans to find entertaining content. We are not making money from this.”

The first 60-minute special attracted 8 million viewers on Friday 27 March, with the content hub overall attracting 32m users so far. “We have a lot of ideas about what we could do with this in the future,” adds Morin.

Another live music company delving into the online space is management firm 11E1even Group, which has set up the ongoing virtual festival Live From Out There. The idea for the festival, the group’s owner Ben Baruch tells IQ, originated when clients starting to have tours cancelled.

“We immediately entered into the mode of how to keep money flowing to artists and crew with new streams of revenue ,” says Baruch, “and thought of livestreaming but with the mentality of booking and marketing it like a traditional festival.”

“We are doing this to make sure that artists and crew are paid for their performances to help them survive during these crazy times”

The team approached the festival in the same way as they would for booking a live show, says Baruch, putting together a virtual festival line-up and bringing in Sweet Relief Musicians Fund, which provides financial assistance to industry workers and artists, as a charitable partner.

Artists upload 45 to 60 minutes of unique never before seen live footage which the Live From Out There team prices accordingly. The virtual event has raised over $250,000 so far, with fans paying for $50 six-week subscriptions, $20 weekend passes or paying per view, with single shows starting from $5. Of the revenue generated, 70% goes directly to the artists.

“We are doing this to make sure that artists and crew are paid for their performances to help them survive during these crazy times. I very much support many of the other models where all money goes to charity and artists involved don’t get paid, but for us, we are doing that through Sweet Relief, plus making sure the artists involved in our programming get paid.”

For the first week of programming, says Baruch, no major recording artists performed at the festival, meaning licensing has not been an issue. “I also think people aren’t so bullish at the moment, and are trying to help each other out,” says Baruch, adding that, “we will continue to go grow and diversify our platform and did so last week for the Bill Withers Tribute which had artists such as Finneas, Stephen Marley, Craig Robinson, Allen Stone and many more major artists.”

“We have no intention of stopping at this point and are already working on phase two of the platform and see everything that we are working on now still being relevant once we return to some sort of normal,” adds Baruch.

A mainstay in the livestreaming game, self-serve platform Stageit has been hosting concerts online since 2011, but has seen a “gigantic uptake” since the coronavirus outbreak.

“As people start to miss live shows more and more, we will see an increasing number turning online for their live music fix”

“There has been a massive explosion on the site,” says Stageit’s production and artist relations manager Nick Cox. “We are now having more big shows in a day than we have had in a month typically.”

Stageit is licensed by US performance rights organisations (PROs) Ascap and BMI and, as no content is archived on the site, there is no need to pay for any recorded rights, says Cox. Artists that have performed on the site include Jon Bon Jovi, Korn, Jason Mraz, Sara Bareilles, Rick Springfield and Bret Michaels, with a new influx of artists that have had upcoming tour dates cancelled now coming to the site.

Cox believes that the self-serving, “democratised” nature of the platform, and the absence of a middle man needed to access it, is liberating for many artists. If people want to play to ten fans and make money from that, we don’t want to take that experience away from them, he says.

In terms of the future of livestreaming, Cox states that “more people are going to be willing to pay for [livestreamed content] now”.

“It will never be a replacement for a live ticketed event – they are two completely different things and we are not trying to compete with this, but as people start to miss live shows more and more, we will see an increasing number turning online for their live music fix.”

Read more about the business of livestreaming here.

Moving online: The booming business of livestreaming


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More high-profile acts join Lady Gaga-curated benefit gig

A host of new artists have joined the line-up for One World: Together at Home, a livestreamed benefit concert co-curated by Lady Gaga in celebration of health workers and in support of the World Health Organisation’s Covid-19 solidarity response fund.

Taylor Swift, Jennifer Lopez, Christine and the Queens, the Killers, Sam Smith, Alicia Keys, Usher and Celine Dion join previously announced acts Stevie Wonder, Billie Eilish, Elton John, Lizzo, John Legend, Paul McCartney, J Balvin and many more for the mega charity concert, which is taking place on Saturday 18 April from 8 p.m. (EDT).

First announcing the event last week, Gaga revealed she had helped to raise $35 million for the WHO fund, which is dedicated to funding protective equipment for health workers and efforts to find a Covid-19 vaccine.

On Monday, the singer called on world leaders including Canada’s Justin Trudeau, France’s Emmanuel Macron and EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen to contribute funds to the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (Cepi) and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, organisations seeking to find a vaccine for the Covid-19 coronavirus.

As part as the One World: Together at Home initiative, Global Citizen, the social action platform that has partnered with the WHO to produce the event, is calling on individuals, philanthropists, investors and business to support global health efforts.

“We are incredibly grateful for the continued support from the artist community to make One World: Together At Home a moment of global unity”

“We are grateful to the private sector who have listened to the public’s call for action and come together to support the global response to Covid-19,” says Hugh Evans, co-founder and CEO of Global Citizen. “This pandemic is too large for governments to tackle alone.

“We are also incredibly grateful for the continued support from the artist community to make One World: Together At Home a moment of global unity,” continues Evans. “Our hope for the special is that everyone will come away believing that we, as a shared humanity, can emerge from this moment forever grateful for the work of doctors, nurses, teachers, grocery store workers, and all those who are the backbone of our communities.”

One World: Together at Home, which will be hosted by US talk show hosts Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel and Stephen Colbert, will be broadcast live across US television networks ABC, CBS and NBC, as well as being streamed online.

Internationally, the UK’s BBC One will show an adapted version of the concert the following day from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. (BST), including exclusive performances from UK artists and interviews with frontline health workers. Additional international broadcasters include AXS TV, beIN Media Group, IMDb, MultiChoice Group, and RTE.

There will also be a globally curated digital show beginning at 2 p.m. EDT/6 p.m. GMT. Streaming partners include Alibaba, Amazon Prime Video, Apple, Facebook, Instagram, LiveXLive, Tencent, Tencent Music Entertainment Group, TIDAL, TuneIn, Twitch, Twitter, Yahoo, and YouTube.

Photo: proacguy1/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0) (cropped)

 


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