One of the most striking effects of the corona crisis is the way people and society are forced onto the internet. In Dutch marketing jargon this is called ‘gefunneld’. Online delivery services can barely cope with the high demand. This does not only concerns food and clothing delivery services, but also the turnover of platforms for videos and music on demand, games and other types of entertainment.
Now that ‘old-fashioned’ performing with an audience is not an option for the time being, it is not surprising that the live streaming of performances by musicians and other performing artists seems the way to go. A number of well-known artists have taken the lead with online platforms, either self-established or regulated by their management. This way, exclusive online concerts can be booked for a small number of online visitors but also large-scale live streams. For example, Erykah Badu has already achieved great success with live streams that she has set up herself, or the K-Pop band BTS who has sold over more than 750.000 tickets for a live-streaming concert and generated approximately 20 million dollars in turnover.
If you do not have access to such channels there are various other options. In many cases the usual social media such as Facebook, YouTube and Instagram. For the average ‘do it yourself’ streaming artist, however, making money via these platforms is difficult. It usually only goes through a third party. That is why Facebook, YouTube and Instagram are often used strategically to lead potential audiences to the online places where monetizing takes place. Especially now that artists have to scrape together their income this is very important. This can be done through multiple ways online. However, what makes it difficult is the strong competition from colleagues and hobbyists who have been locked up at home because of the corona pandemic and are starting to manifest themselves on the internet. No wonder that approximately 40,000 tracks are released on Spotify every day.
Below is a small selection of options for monetization:
Crowdfunding: through paid subscriptions (Patreon) or through donation buttons (Superchat on YouTube) but also tickets for a live stream concert and personal chat contact (break-out) with the musicians after the concert. You may or may not pay extra for the latter.
Merchandise: for artists who want to combine a live stream with promotion via their Bandcamp and/or other merchandise websites such as Popshop Live or Amazon Live.
Affiliate deals: a type of performance-based marketing that can come in all shapes and sizes. You get a kickback (a percentage) for every sale that has been made via a link. For streaming musicians this can be musical software and hardware products, such as DAW plugins and guitars.
Online classes and courses: This can vary from individual chat sessions to entire lesson packages with instructional videos and a number of hours of personal advice on Skillshare for example.
Sponsorship: The more followers on your online channels (which you can bundle) and influence you have as an artists, the more money you can ask a sponsor.
Online (freelance) activities through your own website: This includes recording voice-overs, recording music (parts or entire productions on assignment), graphic assignments, text writing etc. There are also platforms like Fiverr and Twago (the latter acquired by Randstad) that specialize in this. However, these online services also have a disruptive effect on entire professional groups and are at times controversial because of the deterioration of working conditions and earnings. The most striking example of this is Uber, A taxi company where the interests of the taxi driver involved are generally not taken into consideration. The advantages of your own website as online center for freelance work is that you are in control and it is easier for you to commit to your customers.
Platforms not only for musicians
The Platforms described hereunder that are not exclusively for musicians only. They are also suitable for other performing artists such as actors, dancers etc. You can start with simple technical means on a smartphone, labtop or desktop by using the internal microphone and webcam. Below are a number of frequently used online services.
This is not a streaming platform, but is often used in combination with YouTube or Crowdcast for live streaming. Patreon is not based on large numbers but more on quality and not advertising income. The concept is completely in line with the current fan-related marketing orientation. With a paid membership fans receive all kinds of goodies from the performer or artist, for instance access to the full videos instead of the free short versions on YouTube. The philosophy behind this is: rather 500 ‘Patrons’ (paying fans/members and donors) who spend about a €100 a year, than 1 million free views that generate €2000 to €4000 annually through advertising revenues such as YouTube. The platform offers many online tools and information to satisfy the Patrons completely. Depending on the program you choose, the platform takes 5% to 12% commision.
This is also not a platform specifically used for live streaming, although they do facilitate it via an app. Bandcamp was founded in 2007 and offers artists a profile that includes their own shop for their physical products such as vinyl, CDs, T-shirts and other merchandise, as well as a concert agenda and ticket for concerts. In addition to the online store, there is also the option of digital streaming, fan contact tools and paid subscription. Between 80% an 85% of the proceeds go directly to the artists. The platform is therefore widely used by artists. Like Patreon, Bandcamp is a place for fan-related exploitation.
Live streaming platforms with paywall
Live streaming is not a financial substitute for real concerts. Although the aforementioned success examples of Erykah Badu and K-Pop band BTS suggest otherwise, for the ‘ordinary artist or performer’ the consumer is not (yet) used to paying for live streams. In addition, the number of livestream platforms where you can put the stream behind a paywall is still limited. Below are a few examples.
Originally Bandcamp was not a platform specifically intended for live streaming. On November 23rd, however, the platform introduced Bandcamp live: a live streaming ticket service. The service is easy to set up even if you have never streamed before. It is also fully integrated with the rest of the Bandcamp platform. Fans are automatically notified when an artist announces a show. Because many people already have a Bandcamp account, the potential of audiences is fairly high. You can also present your music and merchandise directly to your stream in a virtual merchandise table. Bandcamp live also offers an optional chat service where fans can communicate with each other, as well as with you (or with a moderator). The merchandise that you sell can appear in the chat to boost sales. You can determine the ticket price yourself. Bandcamp takes a 10% commission but they will only do that from March 31st and onwards 2021.
Strealix is a new streaming platform from the Netherlands. The service offers both a live stream service and an on-demand music videos service for prices between € 2,99 and € 3,99, of which the platform takes 20% commission. Strealix provides its own social campaign via Strealix Instagram, a customized event page, payment to Buma Stemra, hosting of all content, streaming costs and Mollie transaction costs. For this Strealix charges the public € 1 extra in service costs. Strealix uses its own embedded player so there is no underlying technology from YouTube, Twitch or other major platforms. You do not have to pay to view streams. A live stream is available for 48 hours. All streams are recorded and saved in an on-demand library afterwards. Here a stream van be viewed and listened to on demand for € 2,99. In addition, Strealix offers the possibility to integrate QR codes. As a result, streams can also be offered for free or to offer merchandise, Spotify playlist or albums. The only condition is that you supply the stream at a minimum of 1080P (Full HD). User experience is good due to limited compression. Last but certainly not least, the service is ad free so streams are not interrupted by advertising.
A streaming platform that is widely used for online conferences but is also suitable for live stream concerts. You can use the service for free for 25% commission on ticket sales, but if you want more, such as recording a stream, a lower commission and an e-mail list of all the participants and audience, you have to go for the paid subscription.
A platform that is tailored to music and small private streaming concerts. It has been around for 11 years but recently (of course) got a gigantic boost. Audiences can chat with each other and with the artist. The stream is not recorded or archived by the organization. You can determine the price yourself and the maximum amount of audience. This way you can make it as exclusive as you want. It is also possible to let visitors decide for themselves what they want to pay and 80% of the ‘entrance fee’ is for the artist(s). Some nice advantages of this platform are that the entire online infrastructure is already in place (not set up in a corona rush) and you will receive your money within seven days.
Starting from $20 a month, for this platform it also applies that the more you pay, the more you get. For example the maximum length of the live stream, lower commission on ticket sales, the maximum number of audiences etc. Streams are recorded on HD video by default. An advantage of Crowdcast is that you can seamlessly integrate with Patreon (among others) as an alternative to YouTube.
A free livestream platform. You can determine yourself what the ticket price should be, starting with a minimum of $3. Veeps takes a surcharge of 15% as a commission. You must have a Twitter account which the platform uses to see if you are an authentic artist. It takes about three days for your application to be processed. The stream runs through their website, therefore the viewers must create an account before they can order a ticket. To experience the livestream, they must log in to the website. You can choose whether a livestream remains online afterwards or not.
A free livestream platform that charges viewers $2,99 per stream. Viewers must log in via their Facebook, Twitter or Google account or create an account on the Key website. The service takes 25% commission of all income, including paid DM (direct messaging) via a smartphone app with the artist during the livestream. You get analytics and email addresses from viewers. The company also links brands to artists. In that case, the brands sponsor the streams. It is not clear whether the livestreams will remain online or if they will be removed afterwards.
Not for free but very sufficient. To livestream you need a premium subscription of €70 per month. In return no commission is deducted from the tickets. This platform is for artists with a budget, who need a lot of tools and who want to simulcast to other platforms. Vimeo offers an extensive statistics dashboard and high quality streams. You can also embed the entire process on your own website and adjust it to your own taste. The stream is automatically saved and you can send push notifications to your followers or a selection of your followers. Furthermore, it offers an unlimited number of streams and viewers, live graphics, audience chat, no limits for the bandwidth and studio encoding software. Click here for extensive possibilties.
Streaming platforms without a paywall but with the option of paid subscription and donate button
This is originally a game platform from Amazon, but can also be used by musicians. With this platform you can stream live and, technically speaking, reach an audience of billions. Via a paid Soundcloud account you can also become an affiliate partner of Twitch and get paid for views. It offers a donate button and viewers can take out paid subscriptions to your channel. A disadvantage of Twitch is the large amount of advertisements on some channels. If you want to know how to use Twitch optimally, Alpha Gaming’s YouTube channel is a good starting point.
Who does not know YouTube nowadays? As a member of the YouTube partner program, you can earn money through advertisements, super chat, super sticker and channel memberships. However, access to the affiliate program has become increasingly difficult over the years. That is why you often need a third party for monetization. If you set up live streaming it can take up to 24 hours for your account to be enabled. Also, to stream via a smartphone, your channel needs at least 1000 subscribers. Streams shorter than 12 hours are automatically archived and remain online. The advantage of YouTube are the many promotion tools and chat options.
Creating an account on this live streaming platform can be done via your Facebook, Twitter or Instagram account. The platform works with their own cryptocurrency for which you need a digital wallet. Streaming and watching streams can be done via the website or the YouNow app. To live stream you need to subscribe to $4,99 per month. The disadvantages is the mostly young teenage audience that use the platform. Afterwards, live stream can only be viewed by the public with a subscription. Apart from that, you have to become a partner to monetize and for this you need to have a minimum of 2500 fans and 15 so-called competitive viewers. If you are a top dog, you are eligible for a “Partner with subscription badge”. In this program you get access to exclusive tools such as super chat etc. To be eligible for this you must have at least 7000 fans, and average of 30 competitive viewers and a total of 300 viewers.
Periscope is a free live streaming platform owned by Twitter. The platform works via a smartphone with an app (iOS and Android). A live stream remains online by default for 24 hours, but this is optional. You can also save the stream directly to your smartphone and put it on alternative online websites, YouTube etc. In principle, anyone on Twitter can watch your stream. However, you can flexibly shield your streams and limit views. The platform also offers a donate button, which is called ‘super hearts’. Viewers can send you these super hearts which you can convert into money. The latter only applies if you have received approximately 150,000 super hearts so that you can join the “Super Broadcaster Program”. A disadvantage is that Apple and Google take an 30% in-app purchase fee. Therefore opinions about Periscope are very divided.
Well-known streaming platforms without a paywall but with a donate button:
Simulcasting means that your live stream is simultaneously streamed on multiple platforms. The following simulcasting platforms are pretty well-known:
StreamYard: A popular service. Streams to Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, Twitch and Periscope.
Restream: Up to 34 possible destinations for your streams.
Stwitcher Studio: Streams to YouTube, LinkedIn, Twitch and Periscope. Multiple camera angles are possible with this platform, but subscriptions are fairly pricey.
Streamlabs: Offers free all-in-one streaming software, but only for windows. Streams to Facebook, YouTube and Twitch, among others.
Switchboard Live: From $79 a month, it offers over 30 possible destinations for your streams including Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, Twitch and Periscope.
Live e-commerce platforms
Live e-commerce is an emerging phenomenon that combines live streaming with the ability to display products in streaming videos, as well as being able to purchase products in real time. For artists who want to combine a live stream with promotion via their Bandcamp and/ or merchandise websites for example. This can be done via: Popshop live, Bambuser, Brandlive and Amazon Live.
We have given you a small selection of the possibilities for artists and performers online. Aforementioned companies are illustrative, not a conclusive advice of the Kunstenbond.
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– rakenDra Smit, Kunstenbond/Ntb