Ilya Stadnik

Music Livestreams and How It is Changing the Industry

The Music Industry in a Post-COVID World

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September 14, 2020

For millions of people around the world, listening to music means streaming music. Music distribution has changed over the years - from sheet music, physical recordings, all the way to the advent of the digital age, with applications such as Napster paving the way for  torrents & download sites, digital download stores as well as streaming sites.

In 2008, Spotify was launched, making it easy for users to listen to the music of their choice from a large catalog for a monthly fee. If you didn’t want to pay, you could also listen to limited music with adverts being played after every few songs. It would go to become the most popular music streaming service, until it was later surpassed by Pandora in the US market, but remains a leader in other countries across the globe.

Over the years, Spotify and other music streaming sites would face criticism due to the low revenue per stream that the platforms generated for artists. In their defense, they would claim that at least 70 percent of their revenues went to rights-holders and that the service was helping artists by reducing illegal downloads as well as streaming sites that didn’t help the artists at all. The suggestion was for artists to compare the revenue per stream rates to the loyalties that are accrued from radio play rather than downloads. This saw a stream of artists, among them Taylor Swift, pull down all their catalogs from Spotify.

Today, YouTube remains the biggest streaming platform in the world, even if a majority of the music is uploaded without the consent of the rights holder, with no revenue generated for them. However, the Content ID system has made it possible to identify copyrighted music uploads, which makes it easy for the rights holder to place adverts on any uploads that contain their work or get them blocked.

With the diminishing marginal value for recorded music, it is very hard to determine the future of the music industry. Advertising models, however, continue to change and the ease of legal services makes it easy to attract more people. Today, more and more people seem to lean towards refusal to pirated music from struggling artists.

Musicians Who Have Gone Online and Found Success

The prevalence of musical live-streams has paved the way for platforms like TikTok and Tango to emerge and find incredible success in turning lesser-known musicians into overnight sensations, catapulting them to instant stardom.

Erykah Badu

Erykah Badu is an example of a musician who has gone online and made money through music streaming. She was the first one to introduce ticketed online concerts during the COVID-19 pandemic. In March, she launched her concert series ‘Quarantine Concert Series: Apocalypse, Live from Badutron’ where she was charging $1 to $3.

Rather than using third-party streaming platforms like YouTube or Instagram, she built her own streaming site which was enough to reimburse her and her tech team and engineers. Her first two shows garnered more than 100,000 views, earning her at least six figures. Her success saw an increase in pay-per-view concerts from the music festival façade as well as individual artists.

BTS

The South Korean boy band BTS has also succeeded in hosting online shows. While celebrating its 7th anniversary the K-pop group hosted the BangBang Con in June with the 100-minute concert being streamed live through WeVerse, which is a Korean app created by the group’s label.

Supa Dupa Humble

In 2017, Supa Dupa Humble, by then an unknown rapper released a song titled ‘Steppin’ to a muted response and moved on to other things. One and a half years later, he noticed that there was a surge in the song’s views on YouTube. As he went through the views, most of the comments that he kept seeing were related to TikTok. Not knowing what TikTok was, he decided to check it out and to his amazement, he found that people were creating short skits while lip-synching to the first few seconds of his song.

Before long his music had become a soundtrack to a meme that would go viral. All the while as the numbers grew, so did TikTok users trying to find his song on other platforms and, within a short while, the numbers on Spotify and other music streaming sites skyrocketed - shooting him to instant stardom.

Lil Nas X

Perhaps TikTok's greatest success story is the talented Lil Nas X, a 20-year-old singer who by then was living with his sister. As he looked to renew the popularity of the cowboy culture on the internet, he would start promoting his song “Old Town Road” in the form of memes on Instagram and Twitter. After a couple of months, the song broke out on TikTok, and suddenly more and more people were getting in on the hype, using the song to transform into cowboys and cowgirls.

Record labels soon came calling and after an intense bidding war, Lil Nas X signed with Columbia Records. After a remix that featured Billy Ray Cyrus, the song went to sit at No.1 on the Billboard Hot 100.

The Changing Landscape of Music Live-streaming During COVID-19

As of early 2020, it seemed like the recorded music industry was on a recovery track due to the success of music streaming. Overall music revenues driven by streaming between 2015 and 2019 posted an annual growth rate of 3 percent, reaching $11.1 billion in yearly revenues. 2019 was the music industry’s best year with music streaming accounting for 80 percent of the revenues.

More and more people were not only streaming music but were going to shows and concerts as well. The live concert and music industry was also growing with this growth expected to pour over to 2020. And then the COVID-19 pandemic hit and music events and concerts around the world were either postponed or canceled altogether, creating a financial mess. As it stands, if quarantines are not lifted by the end of the year, the concert industry stands to lose about $9 billion in revenues. With concerts and live music earnings now shrunk to mere tips, streaming sites now have to shoulder the added responsibility as artists have to rely on streaming platforms for income.

Over the years, streaming platforms have come under scrutiny with artists complaining of not receiving fair compensation. During the COVID-19 pandemic, these platforms are now making amends by offering either direct or indirect financial support to the artists. Spotify for instance launched a feature that makes it possible for artists to fundraise through their profiles. The YouTube “Stay Home #WithMe” campaign on the other hand makes it easy for artists to post as well as stream content to their fans from the comfort of their homes. In addition, YouTube also makes it possible for fans to donate to the artists directly.

In addition, some music platforms have gone a step further to host virtual concerts on behalf of artists. While recreating the concert atmosphere is nearly impossible in a living room, artists and fans alike have had to adapt to the changing times. Tidal, for instance, offers fans free access to concerts as part of their “At Home with Tidal” campaign. This has seen new competitors sweep into this space with Instagram emerging as the most popular platform as live performances reach up to 100,000 views. For instance, Travis Scott’s free Epic Games’ Fortnite virtual concert garnered a whopping 12 million views.

Whether this will continue long after COVID-19 is gone remains to be seen but mostly it will depend on the ability of these platforms to innovate, increase consumer loyalty and engagement, and monetize their offerings.

Making Money as a New Musician Through Live-streaming

COVID-19 has changed so many things in the world, and one drastic change has been in the music industry. With the postponement or cancellation of concerts, musicians have turned to online streams to not only help them remain relevant but to make money as well. However, for new musicians who are yet to break into this space, getting noticed has proven more and more difficult.

To start making money as a musician, you need an audience and to get one, you need people to listen to your music and actually buy it. With lockdowns and quarantines, musicians have had to rethink their approach to selling their music. Enter live-streaming platforms! There are so many streaming services that beginner musicians can take advantage of and one such platform is Tango. Tango Live is an interactive platform with over 350 Million users worldwide that allows you to showcase your talents freely, reach out to people around the world, and interact with new fans.

If you are a new musician, then this is one powerful platform you can take advantage. However, the bone of contention with most musicians - whether beginners or well-known artists - is how they can make money. Streaming sites have often been criticized due to the low payments that musicians get. Tango operates in a unique way which makes it the most ideal platform for musicians to earn money. The platform allows users to do live broadcasts whereby the viewers get to send gifts to their favorite broadcasters during the live broadcast. These gifts are valued in diamonds which you can redeem for actual cash.

If you are good at what you do, people are bound to take notice and that is precisely what a live-streaming platform like Tango can do for you and your brand. Build a following by showcasing your talent as a musician and soon enough you are going to break into the music industry and add your name to the list of celebrities who have found instant fame through live broadcasts.

All you need to do is to create a profile and start broadcasting!


Ilya Stadnik