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Wasserman Music, Twitch launch livestream series

Wasserman Music has partnered with Twitch, the Amazon-owned livestreaming leader, to launch There is Light, a new virtual concert series and music discovery platform.

Kicking off tonight (4 May) with a performance by Perfume Genius at the Lodge Room in Los Angeles, There is Light will present 20 shows from independent music venues in the US and UK across the summer. Other confirmed headliners include Best Coast, Jade Bird, Cautious Clay, Creeper, Orla Gartland, JpegMafia, Porches, the Snuts, and Two Feet, with more to be announced.

The There is Light concerts, all of which will be free to view, will take place on Tuesdays at 8pm ET/5pm PT in the US and Sundays at 8pm BST in the UK, concluding on 28 September.

Each live stream will run for 90 minutes, with a 30-minute pre-show featuring an opening act followed by the headline performance. Following the headliner’s set, there will be a moderated Q&A where artists will engage with their fans and the Twitch community.

No live, in-person audiences are planned, though this is subject to change based on local Covid-19 conditions and protocols, according to Wasserman Music, which launched last month following Wasserman’s acquisition of Paradigm Talent Agency’s North American music division.

Sam Alpert, SVP of marketing at Wasserman Music, says: “In creating a branded series, our goal was to find turnkey opportunities for artists within the livestreaming space, while also creating a destination for the indie music community to hear some of their favourite live acts and discover new ones from all over the world. With the launch of the There is Light channel, Twitch is providing the perfect medium for artists to engage with their fans and the Twitch community, and we are looking forward to building it with them throughout this series and beyond.”

“Twitch provides the perfect platform for artists to showcase new material in the absence of live opportunities”

“Independent artists have created some of the strongest and fastest-growing communities on Twitch,” says Will Farrell-Green, head of music content at Twitch. “These artists deeply understand the impact of building and connecting with a loyal fan base. Our partnership with Wasserman Music will give indie artists a dedicated home on the service where they will have the opportunity to introduce their music to Twitch’s global audience and interact with fans on a more personal level.

“During what continues to be an incredibly difficult time for the music industry, we are thrilled to offer new ways to support music artists as well as the reopening of several prominent indie venues.”

Twitch is known for its dominance in the videogame livestreaming space, hosting 91% of all gaming streams, though its concert streams grew exponentially during last year’s lockdown, shooting up 385% in April 2020 alone.

Anna Bewers, agent for Creeper and Orla Gartland at Paradigm Agency in London, says: “The livestreaming space can present complex logistics, and we wanted to create a seamless solution that allowed artists to reach new audiences globally when touring hasn’t been possible.

“It’s so important, but increasingly difficult, to keep musicians active, but Twitch provides the perfect platform for artists to showcase new material in the absence of live opportunities.”

The initial There is Light headliners and venues is as follows

4 May: Perfume Genius, Lodge Room (Los Angeles)
11 May: Best Coast, Lodge Room
18 May: Two Feet, Lodge Room
25 May: JpegMafia, Lodge Room
15 June: Porches, Sultan Room, New York
27 June: Jade Bird, Lafayette, London
29 June: Cautious Clay, Sultan Room
25 July: Creeper Lafayette
1 August: Orla Gartland, Lafayette
8 August: The Snuts, Lafayette

 


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Tash Sultana promotes new album with Fortnite map

Australian singer-songwriter Tash Sultana is promoting their newly released album ‘Terra Firma’ with a new Fortnite map based on its cover art, designed by renowned Melbourne-based artist Pat Fox.

The custom map, designed and built by Lootmate, allows Fortnite players the opportunity to explore the album’s ‘visual world’, discover easter eggs, and win the in-game currency V-Bucks by sharing themselves inside the map.

A livestreamed map launch took place earlier today on Twitch, hosted by Australian gamer and internet personality Loserfruit, which marked the first time an Australian artist has had a custom map inside the game.

As part of the album promotion, Sultana also performed some tracks from the album during week two of the Fortnite Championship Series OCE, presented by The Australian Open.

Sultana is the latest in a long line of artists to appear in the Epic Games-developed Fortnite, which is the most successful free-to-play video game of all time.

Fortnite hosted its first-ever in-game concert with RCA-signed DJ Marshmello in February 2020 – a ten-minute show which attracted more than ten million people.

Travis Scott trumped that in April 2020 with the premiere of Astronomical, which drew more than 12 million players and, across five shows and two encores, is believed to have attracted around 45.8 million viewers.

Tasha Sultana is the first Australian artist to make custom map inside Fortnite

While Reggaeton superstar J Balvin delivered a special performance as part of Fortnite’s Halloween-themed event, Fortnitemares 2020: Midas’ Revenge.

Roblox is also an increasingly popular destination for artists to promote their music and has hosted highly successful events with double Grammy award-winning rapper Lil Nas X and global pop star Ava Max.

Last September, Max promoted her album ‘Heaven & Hell’ with a virtual launch party in Roblox, in a space dubbed the ‘Sky-High Dance Floor’.

During the launch, Max answered questions from participants before performing some of the songs from the album. The event also featured a merch store and in-game quests. The highest concurrent player peak reached 166,620 people.

Interested in the intersection of technology and live entertainment? Register for ILMC to get access to all-new conference and content platform PULSE and the sessions: New Technology PitchesSweet Streams – Best in ClassThe Livestreamers Guide to Live MusicThe New Fan ExperienceThe Business of Live Tech.

 


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Pokémon announces virtual show with Post Malone

Post Malone will headline a virtual concert celebrating 25 years of Pokémon on ‘Pokémon Day’, 27 February.

The show will be free to view on the Pokémon YouTube and Twitch channels, as well as Pokemon.com, from 19.00 EST on 27 February (midnight 28 February GMT). The first Pokémon video game was published by Nintendo in February 1996.

The Post Malone show is part of P25 Music, a joint venture with Universal Music Group (UMG) that will see UMG artists, including Katy Perry, participating in a ‘global music experience’ celebrating the brand’s anniversary.

“The opportunity to headline the Pokémon Day concert celebrating 25 years is awesome”

“I’ve been a Pokémon fan for a long time, so the opportunity to headline the Pokémon Day concert celebrating 25 years is awesome,” says Post Malone.

In the lead-up to the concert, the Pokémon Company will spread the word through a series of events on Pokémon Go, Pokémon Sword and Shield (where players can collect a special Pikachu) and Pokémon TV.

Post Malone’s Beerbongs & Bentleys was one of the hottest tours of 2019. A follow-up trek, 2019–21’s Runaway tour was interrupted by the coronavirus outbreak.

 


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MSG Ent announces first-ever virtual residency

MSG Entertainment has announced its very first virtual residency with Phish frontman Trey Anastasio at New York City’s historic venue, The Beacon Theatre.

The eight-week residency, The Beacon Jams, will be livestreamed exclusively through video live streaming service Twitch every Friday from 9 October to 27 November.

The Beacon Jams performances will have no live audience and will feature acoustic and electric performances as well as home audience interaction.

All proceeds from The Beacon Jams donations will benefit Phish’s long-running non-profit, the WaterWheel Foundation, and its new Divided Sky Fund (DSF).

The proceeds will be used to deliver help to those affected by addiction and help further plans to open a treatment centre in Vermont.

“As we navigate the live music scene through this socially distant world, we couldn’t think of a more natural way to bring live music to so many fans for such a great cause,” says Darren Pfeffer, executive vice president, MSG Entertainment.

“Trey’s connection not only with the Beacon Theatre, but with all our venues over the years, including Madison Square Garden, The Chicago Theatre, and Radio City Music Hall, have made this unique concept a perfect partnership.”

“Fans of Trey and Phish will be able to attend from anywhere in the world, feeling like they are in the front row of the Beacon”

Will Farrell-Green, head of music content at Twitch says: “We could not be more excited to be part of this amazing partnership with Trey Anastasio and MSG Entertainment to help raise donations for such worthy causes.

“Twitch offers the same intimate experience that artists and their audiences have come to expect from live shows. Over the course of this virtual residency, fans of Trey and Phish will be able to attend performances from anywhere in the world, while feeling like they are right in the front row of the Beacon.”

“I’ve been sober for 13 years,” Anastasio says, “It’s a great blessing in my life. We started talking about the idea of a treatment centre about a year ago.

“I was worried that the project would get derailed because of the pandemic but it didn’t – it actually picked up steam; things are really rolling along now. The Beacon Jams emerged as a way to raise money for it while also allowing me to play for the fans again.”

This is Anastasio’s second residency with MSG Entertainment in recent years after Phish completed a residency at Madison Square Garden in New York in 2017 – a 13-night run known as The Baker’s Dozen.

Alongside Madison Square Garden and The Beacon Theatre, MSG Entertainment’s venues include Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden; Radio City Music Hall and The Chicago Theatre.

The company is also building a new state-of-the-art venue in Las Vegas, MSG Sphere at The Venetian, and has announced plans to build a second MSG Sphere in London, pending necessary approvals.

 


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Music execs invest in virtual concert platform Wave

Mega-manager Scooter Braun is among those to have invested in Wave, a music-tech startup that creates virtual worlds for live concerts.

The Los Angeles-based company recently received $30 million in funding from investors including Superfly co-founder Rick Farman and Twitch co-founder Kevin Lin. Braun invested via Raised in Space Enterprises, which he launched last year with former BMG president Zach Katz.

The funding round, which was led by venture capitalist firm Maveron, brings Wave’s investment total to $40m.

Wave transforms artists into digital avatars in real-time and casts them onto stages in customised virtual worlds. The company recently announced a concert series, One Wave, with performances from John Legend and Tinashe.

“[This] support shows the entertainment industry is looking for new, interactive ways to connect with today’s digital generation”

The funding will be used to create “new virtual environments and formats, and interactive experiences”, such as in-game activations and social experiences, as well as accelerating it expansion into global markets, specifically Japan and China.

According to Wave CEO Adam Arrigo, the new financial support “shows the entertainment industry is looking for new, interactive ways to connect with today’s digital generation”.

“I want to work with today’s most forward-thinking leaders in music and technology,” says Braun, who manages acts including Justin Bieber and Ariana Grande.

“The future of the industry depends on it. Adam and his team at Wave are bridging these two very important industries to create transformative experiences for the next generation of concertgoers, with a refreshingly artist-first approach.”

Avatar-based virtual concerts have proved to be an immensely popular format, with digitalised appearances by Marshmello and Travis Scott in Fortnite attracting tens of millions and the ongoing coronavirus pandemic further accelerating the push towards digital forms of ‘live’ entertainment.

 


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Livestreamed concert views grow 385% year on year

Views of live music and arts content on Twitch, the leading livestreaming platform, have quadrupled year on year, according to a new report that illustrates the surge in interest in virtual concerts this year.

State of the Stream April 2020, compiled by livestreaming data companies StreamElements and Arsenal, reveals that Twitch users watched 17 million hours of music and performing arts content in April 2020, up 385% on 3.6m in April 2019.

It has also been doubling month on month this year, starting at around 4m in February and then growing to nearly 8m in March.

Twitch users watched 17 million hours of music content in April 2020

With touring on hold worldwide as a result of the coronavirus, live streams have become an important source of income and exposure for artists and their teams, with a wealth of services springing up to act as digital go-betweens for the industry and fans.

Livestreaming has also been used by artists as a vehicle to raise money for those in need – most notably the ‘digital Live Aid’ that was One World – with the report noting that Twitch also hosted its own Stream Aid charity event on 28 March.

While 17m might sound like a lot, it’s worth noting that Amazon-owned Twitch recorded a total of 1.65 billion watch hours in April alone – of which 1.49bn were videogame streams. A single game, meanwhile – the newly released Valorant – accounted for 334.2m hours alone.

 


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Dutch DJs W&W plan ‘world’s first XR livestream’

In what promoter Alda Events is calling the dance music world’s first-ever extended-reality (XR) live stream, Dutch DJ duo W&W have announced a show that will take place inside a specially created 3D virtual world.

For the 23 May event, the pair – who have been among DJ Mag’s top 100 DJs since 2010, and are renowned for their live shows – will play a set in a custom-made virtual stadium overlaid with futuristic, videogame-like ‘XR’ effects, pointing the way towards “a potential future route for the events industry during the global lockdown,” says Alda.

In addition to Alda – the part-Insomniac-owned, Amsterdam-based EDM promoter – the show’s partners include Chinese sports brand Li-Ning (which lends its name to the virtual ‘Li-Ning Arena’), DJ Mag, livestreaming platform Twitch and the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef).

The concert will see W&W “implement green screens to enhance the illusion of their creative 3D reality”, surrounding themselves with “a series of mind-blowing special effects”

According to the show announcement, the concert will see W&W “implement green screens to enhance the illusion of their creative 3D reality”, surrounding themselves with “a series of mind-blowing special effects” and “creating a space that welcomes everyone”.

The W&W shows follows Travis Scott’s pre-recorded show in the videogame Fortnite, which was seen by an estimated 12 million people and won praise for its spectacular visual effects, as well as the boom in livestreamed shows of all kinds during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The event will be streamed live on Facebook and Twitch on Saturday 23 May at 5pm CEST.

W&W virtual livestream poster

 


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Virtual concerts raise money, spirits amid Covid-19 crisis

A whole host of virtual benefit concerts has seen significant amounts of money and awareness raised for charities and funds tackling the coronavirus crisis.

Perhaps the most prominent of fundraising events, the recent Elton John-hosted iHeart Living Room Concert for America saw acts including Billie Eilish, Dave Grohl, Mariah Carey, Alicia Keys, Sam Smith and Backstreet Boys perform from their homes.

Attracting more than 8.7 million viewers, the event has so far raised over $8 million for US charities Feeding America and First Responders Children’s Foundation.

British comedian James Corden last night (30 March) broadcast a similar event – dubbed HomeFest – from his garage with performances from BTS, Andrea Bocelli, Dua Lipa, Billie Eilish and John Legend.

Corden stated the aim of HomeFest was “to bring some joy and some music into your home at what is without a question one of the strangest and scariest moments in all our lives.”

Over the weekend, gaming-focused streaming platform Twitch hosted the Stream Aid 2020 charity event, including short performances from artists including Biffy Clyro, Rita Ora, OneRepublic, Sigrid, Diplo, Die Antwoord, Joe Jonas, the Lumineers, Lauv, Ellie Goulding and John Legend.

The event, which also saw celebrities compete against fans in a number of videogames, has so far raised over $2.7m for the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Covid-19 solidarity response fund.

“The generosity of our entire community resulted in a large donation to two non-profits that can ensure the stability of our world and our industry”

Twitch also partnered with electronic music platform Beatport for 34-hour live stream marathon ReConnect, which raised more than $180,000 for the WHO’s Covid-19 fund and the Association for Electronic Music’s (Afem) Covid-19 hardship fund.

DJs including Carl Cox, Bonobo, Pete Tong, Nina Kraviz, Griz, Rüfüs Du Sol, A-Trak, Nicole Moudaber and Chris Liebing performed live as part of ReConnect.

More than 8.5 million viewers tuned in across 150 countries, with 6,500 individual donors.

“We are deeply grateful for all the talented artists and their teams that made the ReConnect event possible, and equally impressed with the dedication and passion shown by the global electronic music community that tuned in for over 34 hours this past weekend to reconnect with their favourite DJs,” comments Beatport CEO Robb McDaniels.

“The generosity of our entire community, including so many great industry partners that donated products to give away, is what resulted in a large donation to two non-profits that can ensure the health and stability of our world and our industry in the months to come.”

Event discovery platform Bandsintown also joined forces with Twitch to host a live music marathon, with all proceeds going to the MusiCares Covid-19 relief fund. The Bandsintown Live channel is today hosting live sets from Imogen Heap and Flux Pavilion, among others.

Meanwhile, in Spain, the La Liga Santander Fest, organised by Spanish football division La Liga, Universal Music and technical services company GTS, has raised over €800,000.

“Together we can convince people of the importance of staying at home and achieve our aim of providing funding for essential hospital materials”

Hosted by Spanish actress Eva González and radio DJ Tony Aguilar, the virtual festival saw performances from Alejandro Sanz, Juanes, Luis Fonsi, Morat and Manuel Carrasco, among others, as well as appearances from Spanish footballers and tennis player Rafael Nadal.

The Santander Bank Foundation will dedicate the funds for medical equipment and supplies in conjunction with the health authorities and national sports council.

“This initiative has turned into something huge,” says La Liga president Javier Tebas. “We have the best artists, the best clubs, the best players and the best fans. Together we can convince people of the importance of staying at home and achieve our aim of providing funding for essential hospital materials.”

‘Secret gig’ platform Sofar Sounds is also doing its bit, launching a ‘Listening Room’ where artists can perform live and announcing all artists who had shows cancelled will be paid as normal. All upcoming Sofar shows were cancelled on 13 March, affecting 2,000 artists.

Sofar has also launched a Global Artist Fund, aiming to raise $250,000 for artists, which will be distributed in grants of $250 each.

In January, the platform paid out over $460,000 among people who worked its concerts for free between 2016 and 2019, after agreeing a settlement with New York state’s Department of Labor.

In Australia, acts including Casey Donovan, Dami Im, Courtney Act and Patti Newton have joined forces with the Australian Philharmonic Orchestra, or John Foreman’s Aussie Pops Orchestra, performing a rendition of ‘What a Wonderful World’ from their respective homes and encouraging donations to music industry charity Support Act.

The orchaestra urges the public to “stay home, stay safe and when the time is right, please support live performance.”

Support Act’s Covid-19 emergency appeal has so far raised almost AU$240,000 (€133,819) to help the music industry through the coronavirus pandemic. Read how Australia’s Michael Chugg (Chugg Entertainment/Frontier Touring) is coping with the challenges thrown up by the coronvairus pandemic here.

Tales from Covid: Michael Chugg Q&A

 


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Twitch rival Caffeine welcomes $100m investment, Live Nation content

Caffeine, a new Twitch-like “social broadcasting platform” focused on sports, entertainment and videogaming/esports, has secured US$100 million in new investment and agreed a content partnership with Live Nation.

The funding round was led by 21st Century Fox (21CF), with participation from existing investors Andreessen Horowitz and Greylock Partners. Caffeine Studios, a newly formed venture jointly owned by Caffeine and 21CF’s Fox Sports, will create content for the video platform – as will Live Nation, with which the start-up has partnered to stream concerts, starting in Q4 2018.

“We want to bring the world together around friends and live broadcasts,” says Ben Keighran, an Australian-born Apple TV designer and now the company’s CEO. “It’s an ambitious goal, but one we believe is attainable with the support of our amazing new partners, our awesome and ever-growing community and the content that together we can bring onto the platform.”

“We want to bring the world together around friends and live broadcasts”

“The combination of the Caffeine platform with a content studio that benefits from Fox Sports’ expertise in live events and programming will help position Caffeine to deliver compelling experiences in esports, video gaming and entertainment,” adds Lachlan Murdoch, executive chairman of 21st Century Fox.

“We are excited to partner with Caffeine and build something special for fans in the growing live social streaming esports and gaming space.”

Caffeine, described as “a new kind of broadcast company”, hopes to snatch a dominant market position away from Amazon-owned Twitch, currently the platform of choice in the live-streaming video market, especially among videogamers. It was originally backed by $46m in two rounds of funding, led by Andreessen Horowitz and Greylock Partners.

 


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Bots banned… on Twitch

A prolific operator of bots on popular live-streaming platform Twitch has been slapped with an injunction ordering him to shut down his business.

Justin Johnson, one of seven defendants, was the target of a lawsuit by the company and its parent, Amazon, for selling software to artificially boost streamers’ viewer numbers.

Several of the most-followed streamers on the service, known as partners, are entitled to a share of ad revenue. The complaint alleged the defendants “design, sell, and deploy bot services – software that mimics the behaviour of real users. These bot services capitalise on broadcasters’ desire to become popular on Twitch and to become partners by promising shortcuts to both… [making] channels appear higher in directories and trick Twitch into accepting broadcasters into the partnership programme, with its promise of additional revenue.”

California judge Beth Labson Freeman ruled on Wednesday (1 March) that Johnson must immediately shut down his business, and banned him from offering similar services in future.

Twitch is best known as a platform for videogamers, although it also has a music live-streaming service, Twitch Music, for Kelly Clarkson-style broadcast of live music.

 


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