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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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Amazon Prime discount for customers on benefits

Americans on government benefits are to be given a discount on Amazon Prime membership, the ecommerce giant Amazon announced today.

The subscription service – which provides faster delivery on purchases from the Amazon website, access to music and video streaming services and, in the UK, eligibility for Prime Live Events concerts and exclusive presales, lounges and premium seating at several AEG venues – usually costs $10.99 per month in the US.

However, customers holding an electronic benefits transfer (EBT), a payment card which can be used to issue both food and cash benefits, qualify for a discounted membership of US$5.99 per month.

“We designed this membership option for customers receiving government assistance to make our everyday selection and savings more accessible”

“We know when people try Prime they love it, because they save time and money with low prices on millions of items, unlimited access to premium videos and music and fast, convenient delivery,” says Greg Greeley, vice-president of Amazon Prime.

“We designed this membership option for customers receiving government assistance to make our everyday selection and savings more accessible, including the many conveniences and entertainment benefits of Prime.”

Unlike its British counterpart, Amazon in the US has not yet leveraged the Prime platform for live entertainment, although it is known to be hiring staff ahead of a rumoured US launch of Amazon Tickets.

 


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Amazon UK launches self-promoted Prime Live shows

Amazon today issued its strongest statement of intent to date about its live music plans, diving headfirst into promoting its own shows with the announcement of a new concert series, Prime Live Events.

Exclusively available to members of Amazon Prime – its £79-a-year subscription service that also includes music and video streaming, faster delivery on purchases from the Amazon website and, most recently, exclusive presales, lounges and premium seating at several AEG venues, including The O2 – the first Prime Live Event will take place on 23 May with a performance by Blondie at the 750-capacity Round Chapel in Hackney, London.

That will be followed by Alison Moyet at the Round Chapel on 12 June, Texas at the 600-cap. Porchester Hall, also in London, on 16 June and Katie Melua at the 770-cap. Cadogan Hall in Chelsea, west London, on 25 and 26 July – although Amazon Tickets general manager Geraldine Wilson tells IQ the initial four shows will be followed by a “continuous programme” of concerts set to grow throughout 2017.

Explaining the decision to eschew working with external promoters, Wilson says while the company “works with promoters right across the UK” on its Amazon Tickets business, for Prime Live Events “we had a very strong idea of what we wanted to create, so it made sense to do it ourselves”.

The launch of Prime Live Events follows two one-off shows by Robbie Williams, at London’s St John-at-Hackney, and John Legend, at the Round Chapel, last December, which served as a trial run for the new series. Both were filmed and made available on demand to Prime members internationally – something that will continue with Prime Live Events shows.

A concert series hosted by a major international corporation with an interest in music streaming has, inevitably, already drawn conclusions with Apple’s successful Apple (né iTunes) Music Festival (“the intimate alternative to the Apple Music Festival”, writes TechRadar), although Wilson says Amazon is potentially in a stronger position owing to its wider reach and almost two decades in the music business.

“We’re addressing an appetite to see intimate shows up close to the artist”

“One of reasons why Amazon uniquely positioned is that we have this broad relationship with artists,” she explains. “We’ve been in music for 18 years – we have two streaming services, we sell their their music, their books, their tickets…

“And not only that, we’re going to be filming them – and that content is going to reach Prime members not just in the UK, but internationally.” (Morgan Stanley estimates there are 65 million Amazon Prime subscribers worldwide.)

Wilson declines to speak about any potential expansion of the concept internationally, but Amazon Tickets is known to be hiring staff in the US ahead of a rumoured launch stateside and the feedback in the UK so far has been positive (both artists and fans “loved” the Robbie Williams and John Legend shows, she says).

With the prospect of seeing their favourite act in an impersonal arena or stadium setting not to everyone’s taste, Amazon is hoping Prime Live Events can fill a gap in the market by putting major acts in mid-sized venues. “There are many different formats for consuming live music – festivals, arenas and stadia – and we’re addressing an appetite to see intimate shows up close to the artist,” concludes Wilson.

“When I was at the John Legend show, you could see the artist clearly no matter where you sat… I was talking to two guys in their late 20s and they said to me, ‘This is how we want to see live music.'”

Prime members with £150 to spare can pick up tickets for the Blondie gig at 9am this Thursday (11 May) from tickets.amazon.co.uk/prime-live-events.

 


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Amazon strengthens AEG ties with O2, BST deals

Amazon Tickets has deepened its relationship with AEG, today announcing a string of new initiatives at AEG UK-operated venues and festivals.

Amazon Tickets branding is to appear at The O2, The SSE Arena, Wembley, and British Summer Time Hyde Park as part of an expansion of Amazon’s Prime subscription service, which will see members given access to exclusive presales, lounges and premium seating.

British Prime subscribers – who, for £79 annually, get faster delivery and membership of the Prime Music and Video streaming services – will be eligible to purchase tickets that include access to ‘Amazon lounges’ at The O2 and Wembley Arena, ‘Amazon Deck’ premium seats at The O2 and the ‘Amazon Prime terrace’ at BST Hyde Park.

A full list of events with premium seating is available at tickets.amazon.co.uk/prime.

A source tells IQ Amazon is also in the process of moving its ticket inventory from Ingresso to Outbox – the technology behind AEG’s AXS ticket agency – although a spokeswoman declined to “discuss our arrangements with our partners”.

“Enhanced live entertainment experiences are a fantastic addition to Amazon Prime in the UK”

In addition to its presence at AEG venues, Amazon Tickets is, as of Thursday, introducing 24-hour presales for Prime customers to shows across the UK, including tours by Sparks, ABC, The Darkness and Art Garfunkel.

“Enhanced live entertainment experiences are a fantastic addition to Amazon Prime in the UK, which already offers members great value with fast delivery, streaming of movies, TV and music and lots more,” says Amazon Tickets GM Geraldine Wilson.

“We’re always looking to add to Amazon Prime, and today we’re delighted to give our members exclusive access to tickets to our new Amazon lounges, premium seating and presales for live music and entertainment experiences across the UK. [From] Justin Bieber to The Killers, Emeli Sandé and Little Mix, Prime members will now be able to get access to the best seats in the house and our presales, and this is just the start – we’ll be adding new shows every week.”

Although currently only available in the UK, Amazon Tickets is known to be recruiting staff ahead of a rumoured launch stateside. Wilson spoke at ILMC 29 on the platform’s fan-friendly ethos, outlining its commitment to “fair”, all-inclusive prices and – significantly – ruling out any move into the secondary market.

 


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