Livestreams tipped to fuel $6.8bn social-app spending this year


We know there has been a boom in the number of livestreamed music events during the Covid-19 pandemic, and also in the number of fans watching them. What might this mean in terms of revenues? App analytics company App Annie has published some predictions which, although not specifically music, are very relevant for our industry.

“Consumers will spend 548 billion hours live streaming in top social apps this year,” is one of the headline stats. “We estimate consumers will spend $6.78 billion via social apps this year – rising to $17.2 billion annually by 2025, an impressive 5-Year CAGR of 29% — bringing the lifetime total spent through social apps to $78 billion. And content creators are at the crux of this growth, as viewers purchase in-app gifts to support their favourite streamers.”

So, this is a measurement (or rather, a guess) about the size of the tips economy within social apps, rather than, say, of ticket sales for livestreamed music concerts. Still, as more artists investigate features like Super Chats and Super Stickers on YouTube; fan badges on Instagram; stars on Facebook; bits and cheers on Twitch and so on, it’s an encouraging forecast.

It also highlights one of the strategic dilemmas in taking these opportunities, however. Should an artist choose one platform to focus their livestreaming (and tips economy income) on, or try to spread themselves across several? Water & Music’s Cherie Hu recently pondered this question in the wider context of fan subscriptions, which are features in the creator economies of the big social/UGC apps, but also standalone platforms like Patreon and OnlyFans.

“With every tech platform under the sun launching direct creator subscriptions, I wonder if there are any artists/creators out there who sustain successful subscription businesses on *multiple* tech platforms simultaneously,” she wondered. “My theory is that doing this well is almost impossible.”

That’s the challenge for musicians, who on all these platforms are competing for viewers’ time (and now their money) against a range of creators – gamers, vloggers, gymfluencers etc – who’ve had a head start in figuring out how and where to focus their efforts. App Annie’s figures are encouragement to catch up, but artists and their teams won’t be underestimating the hard work required.

Written by: Stuart Dredge