Tim Westergren August 2021

Music livestreaming app Sessions, the startup founded by former Pandora boss Tim Westergren, appears to have shut down abruptly before Christmas.

The company launched in 2020 with the aim of helping artists to make money from online performances as Covid-19 lockdowns took hold.

By August that year, Westergren said that some artists were making between $5k and $20k per livestream on the app. Sessions went on to launch a $75m marketing fund; work with En Vogue; and launch a set of marketing tools that Westergren pitched as a more artist-friendly alternative to Spotify’s two-sided marketplace.

And now? Well, that’s the thing. Sessions’ website is offline, and the company’s Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts haven’t posted since October 2022.

Sessions may not have been active on those accounts, but some of the musicians who were using the platform have.

Take this thread of comments on the company’s last Facebook post for example, with artists complaining about not being paid, or refunded for the ‘hearts’ (the company’s virtual currency) that they had bought.

It’s a similar story on Sessions’ last Instagram post, with artists asking whether the company has shut down, and what has happened to the money they were owed. Recent tweets directed towards the company offer similar questions and complaints.

There has been no public announcement from Sessions about a shutdown, but a number of the company’s staff have updated their LinkedIn profiles to reflect their employment ending in December 2022. Several posted about the shutdown too.

“Unfortunately, this morning we were informed that Sessions would be closing their doors permanently,” wrote virtual events operations manager Richard Timmermans three weeks ago.

“Today I’ve found out that our company has hit difficult circumstances, and will be going out of business,” wrote senior software engineer Len Joseph around the same time.

“You ever launch a new product, get married, then get terminated with the entire company on your last day of PTO the week before the holidays?” wrote copywriter Skyelar MacEachern-Hove.

“A few weeks ago, Christmas came with the unexpected news that Sessions is going out of business,” posted data engineer Robert Dragomir last week.

“My short but mighty run at Sessions has concluded due to the company shutting down,” posted VP, people and talent, Kim Seyr this week.

“As unfortunate as it is to see Sessions shut down, I feel extremely fortunate to have worked with such an amazing, intelligent, dedicated, and hardworking team,” wrote frontend engineer Sam Kim.

This reflects the tone of the posts we’ve seen: Sessions’ employees have been largely positive about their experience at the company, rather than angry about the way it came to an end.

However, it seems to be another story with some of the artists who were using Sessions. By its nature, the company collected revenue from its events, and held it for artists until they had earned a certain amount of royalties, then paid it out. Shutting down suddenly can’t help but be a messy situation in that context.

“Digital music has been one colossal failure in changing the economy of musicians themselves. It looks a lot like it did 40 years ago, where the money goes to a few and the rest are fighting for crumbs,” Westergren told Music Ally in an interview in 2020.

“Artists have given away their audience to someone else – and now they have to rent it back from them to be heard and to make money. There’s a big tollbooth between them and the fanbase. Artists have built up the value of every platform and now they’re on the outside looking in again.”

The risk now, in the wake of Sessions’ closure, is that artists are left, well, on the outside fighting for crumbs from a platform that they thought they were building value on.

Music Ally has contacted Tim Westergren to see if there is an official statement. We’ll update this story with any response.

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Stuart Dredge

Music Ally's Head of Insight

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