I_#39_m friday / Shutterstock.com

The NY:LON Connect conference that we co-run with Music Biz kicked off its first online edition yesterday with a track on the future of live and livestreaming, including a keynote interview with UTA partner and co-head of music David Zedeck, conducted by Billboard’s Taylor Mims. He talked about how he sees livestreaming’s future once concerts come back at scale.

“We’ll see streaming become more of a norm for overflow, almost like a virtual balcony – virtual standing room only – for shows that are sold out. That’s something we’re talking to artists about,” said Zedeck.

He predicted that live streams of concerts will be geofenced to fans in the surrounding area, and also that artists might use it to play virtual concerts for fans in countries and cities they aren’t visiting physically. “We’ll see a great deal of streaming as ancillary to normal business, not to replace the business… so I think it’s here to stay.”

Zedeck’s keynote was followed by a presentation by MRC Data’s VP Global Helena Kosinski, in which she provided some new data on fans’ appetites for livestreams. MRC’s survey of Americans in the first week of January found 24% had watched one in the last two weeks, and 39% were likely to watch one in the next two weeks.

“It’s not a mainstream activity, but the interest is very much there,” she said, adding that for people who have watched livestreams, they have averaged almost seven such events since the start of the pandemic. Meanwhile, 80% of viewers said they have been satisfied with the experience, and 74% are willing to pay for these events.

Finally, a panel on the business of live post-Covid offered both warnings and hope. On the former, Niva president Dayna Frank warned that there has been a drain of staff from the live business and independent venues to other jobs and industries during the live shutdown. “We’re certainly hoping that as soon as there are shows and there’s work to return to, folks will come back, but it’s certainly approaching crisis level in our industry,” she said.

If Zedeck’s views on the future for ancillary livestreaming is true, the pandemic may have helped more venues prepare for that opportunity. YouTube’s head of artist partnerships and live music, Ali Rivera, said that the company wired up more than 20 US venues for livestreaming as part of the preparations for Niva’s Save Our Stages Fest in October.

“The idea is to really allow them to livestream into the future, and be self-sufficient and have another revenue stream. We tried to get the venues set up at a very basic level,” she said. “Hopefully inspiring other venues to get set up for long term success.”

Guillermo Parra, director of international events at Ocesa in Mexico, also predicted hybrid events have a bright future. “When the live music comes back, I’m certain that you will have a sold-out show, and you will have the option to do a streaming of that show so that people around the city could not miss that artist,” he said. “Artists are going to be closer to their fans, and it’s going to be an extra income for everybody, so I think it’s here to stay.”

This is a taster of yesterday’s discussions at NY:LON Connect, but there was plenty more: a streaming strategy keynote from WMG’s Oana Ruxandra and a panel on evolving release cycles, for example. We’re working on a full report covering those and every other session at the conference, which will be published early next week. Today’s tracks, meanwhile, are diversity, equity and inclusion; and the future of publishing. See the full agenda here.

Image by I_#39_m friday / Shutterstock.com

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