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Livestreamed shows here to stay, finds academic study

New research into livestreamed concerts, funded by the UK’s Economic and Social Research Council, has found artists are overwhelmingly positive about the power of reaching new audiences through virtual shows, even post-pandemic.

The research, led by Middlesex University and King’s College London, also offers insight into fan experiences of and expectations for livestreamed events and detailed advice on the technical and legal aspects of livestreaming.

The findings of the research project, which surveyed nearly 1,500 musicians and fans in the UK, include:

For their research, investigators also interviewed four concert promoters and an industry charity, and invited 200 music venues to send out the survey. Project partners included the Musicians’ Union, the Incorporated Society of Musicians, Music Venue Trust and promoter Serious.

The findings, however, conflict with a recent survey by trade body LIVE which found just 25% of fans will continue to engage with live streams after the pandemic period.

Over two thirds of those surveyed agreed livestreaming will remain an important part of the landscape after the pandemic

The project’s principal investigator, Middlesex University senior lecturer in music business and arts management Julia Haferkorn, says: “There were numerous comments from attenders unable to visit physical venues, even in non-pandemic times, expressing their appreciation of the availability of livestreamed concerts. Attenders also expressed an appreciation for being able to watch concerts by artists from other countries.”

“The most interesting insight from our research is the important role that livestreaming plays in giving music fans who suffer from social anxiety or other health-related issues access to live music performance,” adds study co-author Brian Kavanagh, lecturer in digital innovation at King’s College London.

Another co-author, pianist and Middlesex University lecturer in popular music Sam Leak, comments: “Our research has highlighted how important it is for audience members to be able to communicate with, and feel connected to, each other and the musicians performing. As a performer, this finding is interesting to me not only because it impacts my livestreaming practice, but also because it could well enhance the experience of my audiences in physical venues.”

The full report, which was published this morning (12 May), is available from www.livestreamingmusic.uk.

 


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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Research project looks into economics of live streams

A research project by two British universities has been awarded funding to investigate the monetisation of livestreaming concerts.

The outcome of the project, by Middlesex University and King’s College London, is a report for artists featuring guidelines on all aspects of livestreaming concerts, which will be published in April this year. Project partners include the Musicians’ Union, the Incorporated Society of Musicians, Music Venue Trust and jazz promoter Serious.

As part of the research, a survey investigating participants’ experiences and expectations of livestreamed concerts has been set up. The survey is aimed at both musicians and concertgoers, and participants do not need to have watched or performed in a live stream to fill in the survey. The survey will be live until 24 February 2021 and can be accessed via this link.

The research is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, as part of UK Research and Innovation’s rapid response to Covid-19. The aim of the project is to enable musicians to use monetised live streams as an additional income source to make up for loss of earnings during, and following, on from Covid-19 related lockdowns and restrictions. Further information can be found on the project website, livestreamingmusic.uk.

The project is led by Julia Haferkorn, senior lecturer at Middlesex University and former artistic director of the British Composer Awards. Other team members are Middlesex lecturer and jazz pianist, Sam Leak, and King’s College academic and classical guitarist, Brian Kavanagh.

“We want to better understand the logic of the economics that define online streaming models”

Haferkorn says: “The vast majority of musicians have been hit very hard financially by the pandemic. We are hoping that our report will make it easier for musicians to use monetised live streams as an additional income source.”

“The internet is the Wild West when it comes to monetising music,” comments Leak. “With this project I hope we will be able to provide the facts and figures necessary to help musicians to operate in this new and potentially intimidating performance format.”

“We want to better understand the logic of the economics that define online streaming models. This includes questions such as how musicians are generating income from online events, and [whether] this income compensating is for loss of earnings during Covid-19,” adds Brian Kavanagh.

“By engaging professional musicians, we intend to identify the potential barriers they face as they attempt to reimagine relationships with audiences in an online world in which it is hugely challenging to recreate the atmosphere of a live concert”.

More about the project can be found on the The project is led by .

 


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Study: Singing in some languages riskier than others

Researchers in Japan have found it is easier to spread coronavirus particles when singing in certain European languages than in Japanese.

By comparing performances of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony and Verdi’s La traviata with a popular Japanese children’s song, scientists at Riken, the Kyoto Institute of Technology, Kobe University and the Toyohashi University of Technology discovered that singing in consonant-heavy German and Italian produced twice as many as per minute (1,302 and 1,166, respectively) as Japanese (580).

The study, commissioned by the Japan Association of Classical Music Presenters, recruited eight professional singers, four male and four female, take turns performing short solos without a mask in a “laboratory-clean room”, and follows an experiment by the Japanese Choral Association which pitted Beethoven’s Ninth against a Japanese graduation song with similar results.

Speaking to CBS News, Toru Niwa, director of the Association of Classical Music Presenters, and Masakazu Umeda, his counterpart at the Choral Association, say the studies reflect how Japanese is spoken, with soft, gently-voiced consonants in comparison to the European languages’ harder sounds.

Japanese has soft, gently-voiced consonants in comparison to the European languages’ harder sounds

The Choral Association additionally found that singing in nonsense syllables composed entirely of the Japanese vowels, “ah, ee, oo, eh, oh”, yielded almost no aerosol emissions at all.

Niwa adds, however, that while there have been coronavirus outbreaks at several amateur choirs, professional groups have yet to record a single community transmission event, regardless of the language being sung. “Classical music is basically the western canon,” he says. “If we stopped singing in French, Italian and German, we wouldn’t be able to perform anymore.”

The science on whether singing increases the risk of coronavirus infection, and the effect of singing volume on transmission, is unclear, with at least one study backed by the UK government finding last year that singing is no riskier than talking. However, with many major live music markets closed – and the majority of those that are open still mandating social distancing – it matters little to most artists and concert professionals.

 


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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170,000 UK live music jobs lost by end of 2020

More than 26,000 permanent jobs will be lost in the live music industry before the end of the year if government support is withdrawn, new research published today (21 October) reveals.

In addition, 144,000 full-time equivalent (FTE) roles, including self-employed and freelance workers, will have effectively ceased to exist by the end of 2020, the new report, UK live music: At a cliff edge, shows.

Revenue into the industry has been almost zero since March, with a fall of 81% in 2020 compared to 2019 – four times the national UK average, where reductions across industries run at around 20%.

At a cliff edge – conducted by Chris Carey and Tim Chambers for Media Insight Consulting on behalf of LIVE (Live music Industry Venues and Entertainment), an umbrella group representing the UK live music industry – also reveals the positive contribution made by the Culture Recovery Fund, which has offered a lifeline to a range of businesses, but whose impact is tempered by 80% of employees still being reliant on the furlough scheme, which ends this month.

The report’s findings include:

“This research shows clearly that the entire ecosystem is being decimated”

Following the lockdown in March, and the ongoing government restrictions on venues and events, many of those working within the live music sector have received no income at all. The new tier-two and three restrictions put further limitations on the sector reopening, while the sector is currently excluded from the government’s extended Job Support Scheme.

With recent indications from the prime minister that severe restrictions could be in place for a further six months, meaning a full year with next-to-no live music or revenues, the associations represented by Live – including the Entertainment Agents’ Association, Association for Electronic Music (AFEM), Association of Festival Organisers (AFO), Association of Independent Festivals (AIF), Concert Promoters Association (CPA), Music Managers Forum (MMF), National Arenas Association (NAA), Production Services Association (PSA) and Music Venue Trust (MVT) – are calling on the government to ensure the live business can benefit from new support measures.

Phil Bowdery, CPA chair, comments: “We were one of the first sectors to close and we will be one of the last to reopen. We are currently caught in a catch 22, where we are unable to operate due to government restrictions but are excluded from the extended Job Support Scheme as the furlough comes to an end. If businesses can’t access that support soon, then the majority of our specialist, highly trained workforce will be gone.”

“Those who have often found themselves overlooked and left behind throughout the last six months are the freelancers and self-employed – the people up and do the country that we rely on to bring us the live experiences we love,” adds PSA general manager Andy Lenthall. “Things are becoming increasingly desperate for a great many people in the industry and government needs to recognise that these crucial individuals need support.”

““Things are becoming increasingly desperate for a great many people in the industry”

Economist Chris Carey, who co-authored the report, says: “From the artists on stage, to the venues and the many specialist roles and occupations that make live music happen, this research shows clearly that the entire ecosystem is being decimated.”

The report includes sector-specific data on artists, managers, promoters, booking agents, venues, festivals, ticketing companies and technical suppliers, as well as case studies from some of those affected and comment from industry leaders.

“The Culture Recovery Fund is a help, especially to grassroots music venues,” continues Carey. “However, larger companies are going to be hit harder, and without ongoing government investment in protecting this industry, the UK will lose its place as a cultural leader in live entertainment.

“Moreover, the skills we lose in this time will significantly hinder the sector’s ability to recover and return to driving economic growth and supplying UK jobs.”

Download the report here.

 


This article forms part of IQ’s Covid-19 resource centre – a knowledge hub of essential guidance and updating resources for uncertain times.

Get more stories like this in your inbox by signing up for IQ IndexIQ’s free email digest of essential live music industry news.

Are online experiences here to stay?

For many cultural organisations, such as live music venues, museums, theatres and arts venues, Covid-19 has meant a pivot to an online presence. But as attractions move through a phased period of reopening we have to ask: Are online experiences here to stay?

Over the last three months, Vivid Interface has put a variety of research projects in the field to track consumer sentiment, the mood of organisations and their online intentions. This has revealed an extraordinary growth in online consumption in terms of cultural experiences, media viewing and health and wellbeing. Add to that last week’s Ofcom report revealing that the average Briton has been spending 25% of their day online while in lockdown, and we know that this is an area we all need to pay attention to.

Vivid Interface, in association with Panelbase, conducted an e-survey with over 1,000 visitors to attractions and cultural venues in early June. The report, which can be read here, looks at what visitors have been watching and participating in online while venues and attractions have been closed. While taking a yoga class or watching a new release film are right up there, so are live music performances and stand-up comedy.

The report explores what they say they will continue to watch and also what they feel they may continue to watch online in preference to going out. It makes interesting reading:

What sort of unique experiences the visitor attraction sectors can come up with next is an exciting space to watch

These are significant stats that can’t be ignored.

The report highlights significant variances in age, gender and life stage, too, which are important in understanding online engagement opportunities for programmers and marketers.

The cultural sector was already well set up to pivot to online experiences, but the sheer explosion of content and audience reaction tells us that there’s plenty more to come.

Just looking at this week’s news we see the Royal Opera House building on its success of live streaming from Covent Garden with a programme of paid for online experiences (at £4.99 a performance). And the Summer Solstice at Stonehenge, managed by English Heritage, received over 3.6 million views for its first-ever live stream of the event. It normally attracts around 10,000.

Are online experiences here to stay? Yes, they are. But what sort of unique experiences the visitor attraction sectors can come up with next is an exciting space to watch.

 


Geoffrey Dixon is managing director of Vivid Interface, a full-service market research agency serving the events, festivals and attractions industries.

Strong appetite for live, physical and digital, post-Covid-19

Concert fans are ready to start attending live shows again nearly as soon as lockdown restrictions are lifted – but they’ll also carry on streaming concerts online, even when it’s possible to attend the ‘real’ thing, new data shows.

While some economic indicators point to a rocky post-coronavirus recovery for the live sector, research suggests concerts will have little difficulty attracting attendees after the pandemic passes, with nearly 60% of Americans willing to attend a live event within two months, according to a survey of US consumers by MRC Data.

Additionally, 29% of respondents would attend a live event less than one month after the pandemic passes or a vaccine/treatment is available – with that number rising to 36% among Hispanic consumers specifically, and 53% among teenagers.

Human trials for a vaccine against Covid-19 are underway, with an estimated 115 vaccine candidates in development, though health experts warn there is no guarantee a cure for the disease can be developed.

53% of teens would attend a live event less than a month after the coronavirus threat passes

The MRC data comes as Bandsintown releases research of its own showing that nearly three quarters of fans (74%) say that will continue to watch live streams regularly even after live events return.

The event discovery platform, which has used livestreaming to raise funds for artists during the coronavirus outbreak, surveyed 7,000 of its users earlier this month, also discovering that nearly 40% had never watched a concert stream online before the current lockdown.

Other findings were that fans strongly prefer for artists to do live performances, with a 96% favourability over fan Q&As, interviews or fan-selected sets, reports Billboard, while 70% of respondents said they would be willing to pay for live streams in future.

Additionally, bolstering MRC’s findings in the US, more than 65% of Bandsintown users said the Covid-19 outbreak would not affect their willingness to attend public gatherings once it is over.

 


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Synchronised brainwaves: Why music is more enjoyable when it’s live

The brainwaves of music listeners synchronise better when they attend a concert, demonstrating that people enjoy music more when it’s live and experienced as part of a group, according to a new study.

Hot on the heels of recent research from the UK that revealed going to concerts is better for one’s wellbeing than doing yoga, scientists in Canada have found when individuals attend a live show and listen to music as a group, their brainwaves synchronise, or entrain – a bond that indicates each individual is having a better time as part of a collective.

The findings are a reminder that humans are social creatures, says neuroscientist Jessica Grahn, a professor at Western University in London, Ontario, who co-led the study.

Using McMaster University’s LIVELab concert hall, Dr Grahn’s research team hired a band to perform for 24 participants in the audience, simultaneously measuring their brainwave data while also taking motion captures of how people move to both live and recorded music, according to Neuroscience News.

“We thought it would be neat to use the LIVELab to look at people listening to live music and recorded music and look at how social bonding is affected and how our brainwave synchrony is affected,” she explains.

“With live music, you get greater synchrony between the audience members”

Researchers collected electroencephalography (EEG) data from participants and looked at how well synchronised their brainwaves became.

“It turns out that in the live music condition, you get greater synchrony between the audience members than you do in the recorded condition or the condition where it’s recorded and you don’t have much of an audience to interact with,” Dr Grahn continues.

The study, ‘What makes musical rhythm special: cross-species, developmental and social perspectives’, found synchronisation is greatest in the presence of live performers. It is less so when watching a recording of the performance as a larger group and even lesser when watching that recording in a small group.

Dr Grahn’s research also shows some evidence that one of the reasons music evolved is because it allows large groups of people to synchronise their movement. When people move together, there is evidence they feel a sense of community and more altruistic, she explains.

A previous study in Australia, published in early 2016, found live music can have a positive effect on mood and increase happiness.

 


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As GTM mulls legality, researcher says pill testing could save lives

On-site festival pill testing, of the kind common in Austria, the Netherlands and, most recently, Britain, could reduce the harm caused by drug use and potentially save festivalgoers’ lives, according to major new review of drug policy out of Australia.

The publication of ‘“Worth the test?” Pragmatism, pill testing and drug policy in Australia’, published in the Harm Reduction Journal today and shared under embargo with IQ, comes as Cattleyard Promotions – the promoter behind Groovin the Moo, one of Australia’s biggest music festivals – weighs up whether to introduce pill testing at the 2018 events, in what would be the first full-scale trial down under.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, a potential trial at the Canberra festival, which takes place on 29 April, has the backing of the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) government and police force, but promoters remain concerned over legal issues – despite pill-testing consortium Safety Testing Advisory Service at Festivals and Events (STA-SAFE) offering legal indemnity to Cattleyard if it allows drug testing.

A spokeswoman for Cattleyard says the promoter needs clarification on who is legally liable for the trial. “As pill testing has never been trialled before in Australia, the decision to implement it is not solely ours, as there are multiple stakeholders involved in undertaking the exercise,” she says.

“Some of the complexities that we are working through involve clarification around patron protection and legal ramifications for those who participate. We are also working through guidelines relating to insurances and liability.”

Two teenagers, including a 15-year-old girl, overdosed on drugs at Groovin the Moo 2016.

“The debate must be about harm, rather than criminality”

In ‘Worth the test?’, Andrew Groves of Deakin University in Victoria examines evidence in support of pill testing to reduce fatalities caused by party drugs, such as ecstasy and methamphetamine, at festivals, clubs and raves. He compares Australia’s “inadequate” current approach, which centres on prevention, with attitudes in other countries, such as Portugal, Austria and the Netherlands, where the focus is on harm reduction.

Dr Groves reveals that Austrian initiative chEckiT has seen two-thirds of users binning their drugs when they discovered their content, while “a similar project in the Netherlands found that pill testing did not increase the use of party drugs, which is often perceived as a risk of such initiatives”.

“Although considered radical at the time, these measures have been effective in reducing the harms associated with illicit drug use, and problems for drug users and the wider community,” says Dr Groves. “The examples evaluated in this study support the idea that party-drug use requires pragmatic, evidence-based initiatives, such as pill testing, rather than criminal justice responses.”

In the UK, meanwhile, pill-testing charity The Loop is already working with a number of festivals, including Kendal Calling and Boomtown Fair, and recently called for the introduction of similar ‘drug-testing hubs’ in city centres as a means of stemming a rise in drug-related deaths.

“The most surprising finding of our research is that the evidence has clearly identified the inadequacy of existing punitive, zero-tolerance strategies across several countries,” continues Dr Groves, “and yet such policies often remain embedded in government legislative action. While we still need further evaluation of how best to implement pill testing and other harm reduction initiatives, the evidence suggests that they are useful and there is widespread support from the community and practitioners in the field.

“The debate must be about harm, rather than criminality.”

“Party-drug use requires pragmatic, evidence-based initiatives, such as pill testing”

Jon Drape of festival production outfit Ground Control told IQ in 2016 that around 25% of those who tested their drugs with the Loop at Kendal Calling and Secret Garden Party opted to bin them after discovering their content. There were 80 “substances of concern” discovered at SGP 2016, including extremely high-strength ecstasy, ‘ketamine’ that was actually an antimalarial and ammonium sulphate – used as a soil fertiliser and insecticide – sold as MDMA, he explained.

Previous attempts to get pill testing off the ground in Australia have been unsuccessful. While harm-reduction activist Will Tregoning said in August 2016 there would be pill testing at a festival in Australia in 2017, the festival in question – Spilt Milk – pulled out with six weeks to go, citing “insufficient” documentation from STA-SAFE.

ACT health minister Meegan Fitzharris said the Canberra government is doing “everything [it] can to ensure pill testing goes ahead at Groovin the Moo”. “The ACT government is being proactive and working with stakeholders to address any questions or concerns so we can see this happen,” she adds, “and I hope we have a final outcome soon.”

Dr Groves stresses that although pill testing cannot eliminate the harms of drug use, and cannot be used as a stand-alone solution, it could be a vital part of wider harm reduction strategy. “We are calling for further collaboration between law enforcement and healthcare providers to ensure that they take appropriate action to reduce the harm caused by drugs,” he concludes. “It is important to focus on prevention, public awareness campaigns and education to shift cultural attitudes, so that use of party drugs is identified as a public health issue rather than a criminal one.”

Royal Blood, Public Service Broadcasting, Alex Lahey, Duke Dumont, Lady Leshurr, Portugal the Man, Sampa the Great and Claptone are among the performers at Groovin the Moo 2018, which kicks off in Wayville, South Australia, on 27 April and wraps up in Bunbury on 12 May.

 


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Over 50s big spenders on live entertainment

Australians over 50 years of age are spending more on live entertainment than people under 50, new research by promoter/ticketer TEG has found.

TEG’s findings – based on a TEG Rewards online survey of 1,000 people in undertaken in August and September, along with TEG Analytics event attendance data over a three-year period to 30 June – reveal over 50s make up more than a third (34.3%) of total spending on live entertainment, spending an average of 7.5% more than their younger countrymen.

The survey forms part of a ‘50+ and the Leisure Economy’ series of research, and also finds:

TEG’s managing director of data, digital and analytics, Mazen Kassis, comments: “The synthesis of our market leading data analytics and research continues to uncover fascinating insights, this time in the over 50s live entertainment audience.

“Leveraging our range of data-driven solutions and actionable insights, savvy brands can measurably enhance their ability to engage with such an audience through their passions, motivations and interests.”

 


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Study: Overpriced resold tickets putting off gig-goers

More than two thirds of British consumers who have bought above-face value tickets on resale sites say they now plan to attend fewer shows, according to new consumer research highlighting the potentially negative impact of widespread ticket touting on concert attendance.

Ticked Off: Consumer attitudes to secondary ticketing, a survey of nearly 1,200 people commissioned by anti-touting campaign group FanFair Alliance, discovered 67% of ticket buyers who paid above the odds said they would attend fewer concerts in future. Sixty per cent said the same also applies to festivals, while 58% would spend less on food and drink at venues.

Meanwhile, 80% of the British public think the UK secondary ticketing market – valued at £1 billion – is a “rip off”, with the vast majority supporting further measures to clamp down on ticket touting, including the provision of authorised resale services (87%), limiting ticket purchases (80%), and personalised tickets with ID checks (75%).

Other key findings include:

Commenting on the research, Adam Webb, FanFair’s campaign manager, says: “The debate around online ticket touting raises strong passions, so it’s important that the wider music business, politicians and regulators can get a sense of what the general public think.

“Touts aren’t just responsible for massively inflating prices – they are chipping away at the public’s confidence in the live music industry”

“The message from this research appears to be pretty clear: UK audiences are fed up. The model of secondary ticketing promoted by Viagogo, StubHub, Get Me In! and Seatwave is causing them very real concern – albeit, they are not against the concept of ticket resale. The majority would like the option to resell a ticket for the price they paid for it, and they’re in favour of measures to curb mass-scale online ticket touting. On that front, FanFair urges legislators and regulators to accelerate their endeavours to tackle the most egregious practices of the secondary market.

“More positively, an increasing number of UK ticket companies are now offering face-value resale services, and it’s becoming common practice for artists to implement anti-touting strategies. This is hugely encouraging, although there remains a deep-rooted resistance from some parts of the live business that needs to be overcome. For, while the status quo might bring short-term gains to certain companies, there is a real danger that their intransigence will cause considerable long-term damage – not only to the live music sector, but across the music business overall.”

Rob Wilmshurst, CEO of See Tickets, which operates its own face-value resale site, adds: “Touts aren’t just responsible for massively inflating prices; they are also, as the research shows, chipping away at the public’s confidence in the live music industry. Buying a ticket for an act you really want to see should be exciting, but touts are turning this into a fraught, overpriced and desperate experience for a lot of people.

“We firmly back any action to combat touting and have made our stance on this very clear by offering customers of Seetickets.com the use of an ethical resale site where tickets can only be resold at the price customers paid or less with commissions below everyone else’s.”

A Competition and Markets Authority enforcement investigation into online secondary ticketing in the UK, announced in December 2016, remains ongoing.

 


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