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How Streaming Is Changing Live Music

Does innovative use of live streaming represent a viable alternative to touring for artists anxious to get off the road? Chris Pfaff, CEO, Chris Pfaff Tech Media, Producers Guild of America (PGA), VR AR Association (VRARA), Alex Lindsay, Head of Operations, 090 Media, and Dan Houze, VP, Encoding & Digital Strategy, BC Live, discuss emerging trends and possibilities in this clip from Streaming Media Connect 2023.

“The big thing is figuring out how you sell tickets,” says Alex Lindsay. “Interactivity turns out to be the holy grail.” He talks about how building a sense of exclusivity and interactivity is the key for musicians and bands to make money from online performances. “If you play a song every half hour and talk about the song and answer questions and interact with your audience, you end up with an audience that's much more likely to come back to the next one because they were engaged,” he says, “They were brought to the front row. We also are seeing more and more shows where we take the audience completely out…I'm working on a concert stage right now, and there's no space for the audience…the online audience is the audience.”

Lindsay says that once a band really gets an online performance setting working, the revenues are often much larger than what can be expected from live touring. “This is like an untapped little thing,” he says. “And as soon as we figure out how they make the kind of money they're making with tours, they'll do 10 or 12 cities…”

“Check out 2GTHR,” Pfaff says. “I had Mark DiLorenzo on a panel we did last year. He’s got an amazing roster of musicians who perform live from their studios, and they've got a community of people who ask questions. You know, one of the great gifts of the pandemic was that nobody could go nowhere. So, Richard Thompson, who lives in my town, Montclair New Jersey, was doing these conversations, and Elvis Costello and Mike Lovett were doing these things. And once, Elvis was interviewing Richard, and Richard's battery ran out on his laptop so he had to run downstairs, and it showed that he was barefoot in shorts, and it was hilarious! I think that's the engagement – coming back to what Alex is saying – that we all love, and now we're learning some more tips and tricks.”

Dan Houze of BC Live says, “A lot of artists we weren't working with directly because they were just doing it themselves, right? And so, I think of like David Foster on Instagram, every morning with his new wife, who's an amazing singer, and they're doing Instagram Live. That's great. They're bringing in their friends, right? And they're interacting from that, but it's just all from their phone. And it's pretty damn good. It's entertaining. And they can bring in one of David's favorite people, ‘Hey, how's it going, Michael Bublé, did you like that song? Let me try this in a different key.’ And they did that almost every day of the pandemic. And then it kind of slowed down. But I see a lot of artists doing those one-on-one experiences, but I would love to see that from a big stage presentation style.”

“We've done a couple of pretty big stages, and they look great,” Lindsay says. “But the funny thing that we find is that we don't know how many cameras we really need because, as you start to do them, you kind of feel like you just want to be there. You want a camera that's kind of framed of everybody, and I get to sit there and watch it. What we found is that if I'm on a big screen, like a theater screen, I kind of want to see the whole body. But if I'm at home, I kind of want to see a little lower than waist up, you know, it's like the same size as me. Like I'm looking through a little window. And so we play a lot with those camera angles. What's incredible is [that] most people don't know YouTube Live now does HDR 10 and 5.1 to live. So there's a lot of [ways] artists can ramp this up to a different level. We're doing a lot of R&D with HDR 10 and 5.1 to YouTube right now.”

“What do you find?” Pfaff says.

“Still only one channel of audio and one channel of captions,” Houze says. “Come on, guys! Come on, YouTube!”

Learn more about live music streaming at Streaming Media East 2023.

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