I used to be a globe-trotter; travelling from tech conferences to showcase festivals. As the CEO of a strategic advisory company specialized in Music & Technology, I used those events as a platform. First of all to meet people but also to learn, test, be inspired and stay ahead of the curve.
In March, I started reflecting on my personal need to slow down and refocus.
And then things happened a lot faster than I could have ever predicted.
There's no need to say how dreadful the COVID19 impact has been on the Event sector. Live music is no exception. In a recent update to their “Music in the Air” report, Goldman Sachs lowered original forecasts for live music by 76%. Waiting for the rebound.
In this surreal & challenging time, innovation seems to no longer be an option.
Easy to say, hard to do when your organization, and the entire sector, is struggling to survive.
However, there is a growing “stream” of initiatives which aim to bring back live music to fans in a digital or hybrid format. Artists including Billie Eillish, BTS, TheWeeknd and Behemoth are at the forefront of those live experience experiments.
Let's have a look behind the scenes, and see what is happening and how it's happening.
Let’s take a look behind the scene to see what we can learn from this new wave of virtual concert livestream.
LIVE EVENTS ARE MORE THAN JUST CONTENT
We might temporarily move our professional & cultural interactions to ZOOM-like interfaces, but we should not forget that a livestream concert is not an interactive Video Clip.
A bunch of articles have already been written about the value of SCARCITY, and the principles apply here:
- make it special, rare, limited and unpredictable.
- Don’t pretend to reach everyone just because this is accessible online.
- Attendees need to feel that they belong there and that they are taking part in a unique experience. Like a Live Event.
Another shared assumption is that livestream concert has to be an EXPERIENCE before content.
Well, a lot of technologies or platforms are now available to enhance live experiences. However, it still remains quite a challenge to find the right balance between a captivating performance in itself, and added creative technology layers which can turn out to be superficial gadgets.
This summer, we released with TheLynk, the results of a survey conducted among 250+ professionals from the Music, Entertainment & Tech ecosystems. The aim of this survey was to capture what could be the new breed of a Virtual Live Experience.
From a music oriented piece of insight, Immersive Sound was at the top of the results, which was quite a revelation, considering the livestream market has been VIDEO first until now.
To me, the area with the most untapped potential is Crowd Interactions. Specifically those that go beyond text and emoticons. A (real) Audience Feedback loop.
I've seen some really promising projects in this field during the nextstagechallenge.org hackathon including advanced technologies from IRCAM in France.
FAN ENGAGEMENT IS CRUCIAL
When a Live Concert becomes part of the daily routine, then you need to find your way through the noisy & overcrowded digital space. You don't just want their attention, you want full attention!
To achieve this and get some fans in front of your virtual stage, you'd better have a loyal and engaged fan base who will not only pay but stay and interact during the livestream.
This may sound obvious, but this is crucial to success. When I was working in a major label running Consumer Strategy, I used to say that the most critical point in the Artist CRM / Community Management strategy was when they did not have any release or concert to promote. Fan Engagement is a continuous & rewarding effort.
CURATION IS KEY
Artists now have multiple options to go LIVE in a monetized, Direct-to-Fan mode through platforms such as:
- Mandolin and/or
- Moment House (who just raised some fresh millions to position themselves in this Livestream race).
Does this then mean that Venues and Festivals are "disintermediated"?
I don’t think so, as we need Festivals and local venues to play their role in digging, polarizing and giving a stage to emerging talent. All the while, reaching out to their community, as the festivals and local venues become the tastemakers based on their capacity to bring in the headliners.
Along this line of thinking, I took the chance (or the risk) to launch my own “TALK” via TheLynk. The first edition was dedicated to the Virtual Live Experience. You can check the replay here : TheLynk MusicTech Talk #1
Does it mean that I intend to get rid of middle men? Not at all.
The growing “individual” initiatives from artists, creators or experts such as Cherie Hu developing their own media are complementary to the role of curated events.
GAMING RULES THE IMMERSIVE GRAMMAR
From a usage perspective, online gaming has clearly emerged as the leading driver of growth in the live streaming market.
From a creativity & immersive experience perspective, there is a real interest in considering game engine technologies like Unreal or Unity as a powerful tool for music creators & producers to push the boundaries of stage design & fan interactions.
The recent $30 Million round from WAVE XR or the latest $7m purchase of Sensorium tokens by TIDAL are good indicators of this "Metaverse" trend.
Last not but least, Games like Fornite, Minecraft or Roblox are becoming platforms for artists, festivals and creators to reach their fans in new ways.
Well, this is no time to draw any sound conclusions, as we are just beginning a vast new definition of the phrase "Live Experience".
There are still a number of significant challenges when it comes to monetization, business models and discoverability in the long run.
Looking from the inside out, business conferences can also be a source of inspiration for live stream concert organizers. Particularly when it comes to online social interactions, for I believe this is what we all miss the most.
And until the virtual moshpit experience arrives, complete with a digital version of the imfamous Sesamers karaoke sessions ...
Keep on rockin' in a livestream world!
Upcoming and Noteworthy:
1. Most Wanted: Music 2020 - November 3 -5
Most Wanted: Music aims to start building the music and creative industries of tomorrow, where collaboration is not merely about working together but creating new with modern goals and rallying around a new ethos.