10 million people have watched the Dropkick Murphys play online. Is it an economic model?

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The Dropkick Murphys were scheduled to play six club dates in Boston around St. Patrick’s Day. The coronavirus ended this plan.

Instead, the Celtic-influenced punk band performed a single show on a soundstage on March 17 and streamed it online. Instead of the roughly 10,000 people who could have attended the concerts, 10 million fans logged on.

“We always talked about airing the Boston shows, but we never got there,” said bassist and singer Ken Casey. “With 48 hours’ notice, we had a full rock concert. “

Concert tours provide the bulk of income for musical artists. Before the pandemic essentially froze the live concert industry, PricewaterhouseCoopers predicted that live music events would generate $ 28.8 billion in revenue in 2020. Now the artists are putting their performances online – and are hoping fans and dollars will follow.

Artists like Taylor Swift have used live streams in the past to promote new music or videos. As crowds of fans stream concerts online in this age of social distancing, many in the industry say they are paving the way for artists to make money through sponsorships, advertising and goods.

YouTube plans to introduce features in the coming weeks to help artists make more money from these live broadcasts, according to people familiar with the matter, including artist channel subscriptions where fans can. pay for early or exclusive access to content and virtual meetings. greet. YouTube is also extending the paid commenting features used by influencers to music artists, these people say.

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Universal Music Group of Vivendi SE, the largest of the world’s three music companies, lends material to artists and helps them broadcast live performances. Universal is testing a “studio in a box,” providing audio, visual and lighting equipment for artists and providing technical assistance to help with setup. The company has also developed a streaming and e-commerce platform that artists can use to perform, interact with fans, and share content on YouTube,

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and other social networks. The company does not take a direct cut on the use of the platform, but can indirectly benefit from royalties and sponsorships.

His postponed North American theatrical tour, Tinashe is among the artists online. The R&B singer has said she has long wanted to broadcast her shows live to fans, and now is the perfect time to try it out.

Using his own audio equipment, with his brother tending to the lights and cameras on loan from a streaming company, Tinashe worked on an hour-long set from a corner of his home in Los Angeles last month, with a dancer. backup (from a distance) and costume changes.

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Simultaneously broadcast on an app, website, and social media accounts run by LiveXLive, the company that produced the show, as well as Tinashe’s own social media accounts, the free set drew over 157,000 viewers. . The singer followed a set list for the first half, then responded to viewers’ requests for the second.

“We don’t get the same energy as a crowd when we are physically in the same room,” she said. “But it was amazing how much you can still do it knowing people are watching.”

Startups have been trying for years to create businesses around virtual concerts, betting on virtual reality and other technologies. Electronic music producer Marshmello has attracted millions of fans for a “Live” taking place in the Fortnite video game last year, a move that worked, analysts said, because those fans were already on the Fortnite platform.

John Legend on Instagram.

Now, virtual performances are seemingly everywhere, and most are free or billed as fundraisers for coronavirus efforts. Bandsintown, a site where fans can see if their favorite artists are playing nearby, has reorganized to follow live broadcasts and now promotes 2,000 such shows per day.

“Live streaming and video consumption in general were always going to break through and become more mainstream,” said Céline Joshua, head of commercial content and artistic strategy at Universal. “We only got there faster. “

After planning to perform at Coachella this month and then tour the United States, British alternative rocker YungBlud took to YouTube to live-stream a show with guests Machine Gun Kelly, Bella Thorne and Oliver Tree. .

The hour-long video racked up over 600,000 views. Superfans can purchase a $ 65 t-shirt featuring the words “A YungBlud Live Concert March 16”. Last Thursday, YungBlud added a second live show, which also generates ad revenue on YouTube.

Live broadcasts also create sponsorship opportunities. Jessie Reyez, signed to Universal’s Island Records, recently released a low-tech live performance to promote her new album. She used a hairbrush as a dummy microphone, and a bottle of Jameson whiskey, the brand sponsoring the show, sat on a shelf behind her.

Profits from YungBlud and Ms. Reyez’s online performances were donated to charity.

Mr Casey of the Dropkick Murphys has said he prefers performing live, in front of the band’s famous rowdy fans. Nonetheless, after the St. Patrick’s Day show, fans who had watched the stream with their children inundated the group with videos, photos and messages.

“We maybe had a whole new generation of fans,” said Mr. Casey.

Write to Anne Steele at [email protected]

Corrections and amplifications
The corporate name of Vivendi SE was mistakenly given as Vivendi SA, its former name, in an earlier version of this article. (Corrected March 2, 2021)

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