Last week, Spotify announced that it will sell $15 tickets for livestream virtual concerts. Now that live events are coming back, it’s time to discuss what these events look like in a post-pandemic world.
Pandemic novelty or here to last? In December, I tweeted a bold prediction that Travis Scott would not do another 50+ city concert tour given the success of his Fortnite experience. I’ll admit, I had too much dip on my chip that day. I no longer believe that’s true. But it helped me better understand where livestream events are heading. Here’s what we’ve learned:
Successful events tap into existing demand. The best run event was Dua Lipa’s Studio 2054. She dropped Future Nostalgia at the beginning of the pandemic and couldn’t go on tour. She was hesitant about the livestream at first, but she found a way to make it unique.
She charged fans in most markets $10 (and $15 for VIP) and charged Tencent and Ganaa to broadcast in China and India, respectively. 5 million total fans watched. 263,000 paid $10 each. That’s $2.63 million in revenue, not including the revenue from Tencent and Ganaa, or the revenue she still collects from on-demand access to the $20 event + documentary. She sold that thing like a pay-per-view boxing match.
Travis Scott’s Fortnite and Lil’ Nas X’s Roblox event were also successful because they lined up with engaged audiences. Those online game platforms capture tons of attention, and both artists have fans that were already familiar with each respective online game.
The least successful events needed more than just an artist. There are plenty of superstars who tried events that didn’t take off. The Weeknd’s livestream TikTok concert drew in 2 million total viewers and 275,000 concurrent. Not bad, but nowhere near Travis Scott-Fortnite or Lil Nas X-Roblox. TikTok is huge, but it’s not known for interactive events like that. There was no existing base.
Similarly, both Lil’ Uzi Vert and Megan Thee Stallion hosted ticketed Live Nation livestream events for $15 in August 2020. But the events came and went with little buzz. Uzi has shared his lukewarm feelings about his latest album Eternal Atake, so I doubt he pushed the event as much as he could have. Plus, it’s Uzi! This is the same guy who implanted a $24 diamond in his forehead. He’s always moved a little different.
Meanwhile, Meg was already quite visible. In 2020, she performed at most mainstream music award shows, had the most talked-about music video of the year, notable late-night show performances. You had to be a diehard Hottie to pay $15 for a one-off concert of hers.
The challenge for Spotify. Spotify may have hundreds of millions of users, but it has none of the features that make online gaming platforms so effective at livestream concerts. Can Spotify create a Studio 2054-level experience for all of its ticketed livestream events? Maybe. But Dua’s event took five months to pull off. It’s much more bespoke than what Spotify will offer artists.
Spotify’s advantage is its ability to target users. It knows more about music fans than any other music company, which is valuable. But great data isn’t enough to capture a livestream audience.
Read more about Spotify’s livestream plans at Spotify.live