How the Pandemic Changed Streaming at Scale
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John Petrocelli: Certainly, this has been a very unique period in history. And the big thing that we've noticed is almost a global user behavior adoption of live video in some way. If you're a grandparent, you've done a Zoom session with your family. If you're a child, you've done some distance learning. I think everybody's gone to a virtual conference like we're doing right now. And almost everyone has watched a concert on a platform like Instagram, like the Verzuz battles. This is a global situation, and as a result, consumption is off the charts. You could look at this through the lens of the live music business, which is a $25 billion industry that's been on hold for 14 or 15 months. And you've seen these artists performing at the beginning of the pandemic in their bedroom or their living room, and it was all, "We are all kind of in this together." Six months in, you started to see concerts and then pay-per-view concerts and then these kind of rich experiences.
That's also been true of product launches, experiential events that become virtual with brands. We were working with Kenny "The Jet" Smith. One of the hosts of Inside the NBA came to us and said, "Hey, kids in the summer usually go to basketball camp and they can't do that anywhere in the world. I want to build a virtual academy where I will bring in NBA and WNBA superstars and teach the game in real time." The interesting thing is a lot of people have gotten very, very creative, and I think the social platforms have all kind of doubled down on live streaming. Instagram has lifted the one-hour cap for live video to four hours for verified accounts. So there's been this widespread overall adoption. Certainly you've got content creators that are ... We've done a lot of things with celebrities that are stuck in the Hollywood Hills and have really poor internet connectivity, and Darren points out, and you got to solve for those things, whether it's kits or connectivity, you want that content to be available to the viewer in the best possible way that it can. The word hybrid is being thrown around a lot as we return to in-person experiences. I think this is going to continue to accelerate. You can now amplify whatever you're doing in a room. And the audience now understands how to open a player, how to consume, how to ask a question virtually or participate in a chat. Post-pandemic, this is going to be a significant trend, and you'll see monetization models with pay-per-view and brands powering and bringing these experiences out to a much more larger, more engaged audience.
Dom Robinson: Perfect. Adam, in your space, have you seen similar changes? Are you seeing interesting twists on live events?
Adam Paul: Absolutely. It was kind of cataclysmic. In 2019, we did the Red Hot Chili Peppers at the Great Pyramids, live from the middle of the desert. And we're capturing this moment in time with people and sweat and that whole thing. And with that, our key was just to capture the moment and the experience and feed it to someone live live, as vibrantly as we could. And, you know, we went, we did the Brothers 50 on March 10th, and then we did 311 30th Anniversary, March 11th, 12th, and 13th, and then the world ended. We woke up the next morning, and I'd kind of seen it coming, and I said, "So this is going to really change things. One, Bob that sold burritos in the parking lot of the venue now has a streaming service. Two, what we really wanted to do was sit back, relax, figure out a way that we could feed it to the audience, um, in a way that's captivated, um, engaging, uh, creative, uh, something that they wouldn't just be like, 'Oh man, I spent money on this and that was not worth it.'" We really wanted to figure out a way to give them a show. And I think the biggest thing that we've done from that was staying on the band's brand, and then, and then finding out, how we can tell a story, and not try to put the band on in a studio to just do the same thing. It's really working with the creative and the band. We've done Weezer at the Disney Center with LA Philharmonic, we've done Sublime With Rome on an avocado farm. We worked with Jimmy Buffett on the back of his boat, playing songs, just acoustic. We've done Tiesto Live at Red Rocks with nobody there, Sarah Barielles at Hollywood Bowl. And it's all been about ways that you can take what the artist has, what the fan loves, and package it for the audience and the fan in the right way. Because I think that they're pretty picky. The Avett Brothers for New Year's was our most successful event, just monetarily and for ticket sales. And it was really kind of a variety show that we put together. It was very unique and Scott and I worked together on it, but I'll tell you this too, we're still learning. I think we're going right back to the whole capturing of the live experience plus doing what we do now. I think they're all options to have for the artists to connect with their fans and to really monetize it. If you're not able to adapt in this industry right now in a split-second, you're really gonna get left behind.
7 Cinematics' Adam Paul discusses how to take a craft approach to large-scale live music streaming, that emphasizes creativity, engagement, and the way fans experience music, and minimizes gear requirements in this clip from a streaming-at-scale panel at Streaming Media East 2021.
Bulldog DM CEO John Petrocelli discusses the evolution of live music streams since the start of the pandemic, and lessons he believes the music industry has learned from a year essentially without in-person events about creating compelling, interactive, collaborative live streaming experiences for artists, their fans, and invested brands.