Just Like Being There: The Economics Of Livestreaming Concerts

Bowery Presents is equally cagey. While they won't discuss specific numbers, their General Manager, Jesse Mann chuckles, "We have very high expectations for ourselves." Later, he characterized the views for Bowery's first live streaming show on its YouTube channel, a February show from Sleigh Bells, as "tens of thousands," which he calls "within our target."

LiveStream, for its part, is much more upfront about its viewers, emphasizing itself as an "affordable way for medium-sized artists" to reach a slightly larger audience." While they do broadcast some larger events—Gaot says a Facebook developers' conference drew nearly half a million viewers over two hours—their focus is much more on getting a few more people to see rather small-scale happening. "Let's say [an event owner] has an event for 50 people," he explains, unspooling a hypothetical livestreaming scenario. "They get online 50 or 100 uniques for the event. If you look at it from a TV broadcasting perspective, that's a joke. But for an event owner that has 50 people showing up on site to have maybe 100 people online, that's a big deal. They tripled the event reach."

Talk of "extending the audience" or "amplifying reach" is everywhere in the field of livestreaming, perhaps because most of the money in it remains prospective. Haot acknowledges as much, saying people livestreaming events through his site "won't make money directly" from streaming, but that the extra audience is worth it in brand recognition and possible future business. YouTube, perhaps unsurprisingly, is even less forthcoming about their audience and revenue. Ad money is a priority for them, but they decline to disclose how much revenue live music programming has generated so far, although they do acknowledge it's an "important" metric of success.

Mann, of Bowery presents, confirms that at least some additional payments flow to the artists around the larger-scale live streams. While he won't comment on specific revenue-sharing deals, he says that in addition to their performance fees, the bands are given additional "payments related to things like master sync and licenses and rights and clearance," making it at least possible that live streams of performances will become an option for bands of a certain size to push their tours further into the black.

Not everyone is concerned about the money side. "First and foremost we just get an ultra cool factor," says Ron Strum, the owner of the LiveStream-enabled midtown venue the Iridium, most famous for hosting weekly jam sessions led by electric guitar pioneer Les Paul. "Only good can come of it. It's exciting for people who are actually there seeing it live, and it's exciting for people who want to be there, but can't make it to the club."

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