“While we expect (and want!) Venues to reopen and tours to resume, we believe there will always be a place for Twitch with artists who have started streaming during this time.”” – Tracy Chan, VP Music, Twitch

It goes without saying that we all miss the thrill of live concerts in packed venues and at festivals. An entire industry, the artist community and their fans are eagerly waiting for live concerts to resume. Moving forward through this unprecedented global pandemic, the future may not, however, involve a return to ‘normal’.

A new normal is being bootstrapped and co-created as we speak by artists, consumers, start-ups, platforms and the whole music ecosystem, with livestreaming and virtual live experiences playing a key role.

Read more about Twitch ‘s vision on livestream and virtual experience in this exclusive interview with Tracy Chan, VP Music, Twitch, part of the Midem whitepaper: Livestream and Virtual Live Experience: Exploring the New Frontier of Live Music.

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Virtual Live Music Experience is on the rise in the current context. Can you describe the main adoption and usage shifts that you observed on Twitch since the beginning of the pandemic? 

Tracy Chan – Earlier this year, when traditional venues were forced to close and we saw the widespread cancelation of tours and in-person performances, artists began looking for new ways to perform to make up lost income and connect with fans. While music has always had a home on Twitch, over the last year the category has grown exponentially as the service became a lifeline for folks across the industry including musicians, festivals and venues. In fact, we’ve seen the category grow 550% Year over Year, and the total number of broadcasters creating music content tripled between Q2 2019 to Q2 2020.

Twitch supports musicians not only financially with our industry leading monetisation tools, but also creatively. The service offers a space where artists can perform and collaborate with peers while engaging with their fans and introducing their music to new audiences from around the world.

We’re seeing growth across genres and with artists who are both well-into their careers to those just starting out. This includes everyone from up-and-coming pop artist, mxmtoon, to Linkin Park front-man, Mike Shinoda, to legends like Barry Gibbs and Sting, who took part in our COVID-19 relief fundraiser, Twitch Stream Aid, this year.

The move to virtual performances isn’t just for artists and we’ve worked with festivals and venues to bring events online this year. We’ve hosted multiple exclusive events including the world’s largest hip hop festival, Rolling Loud, which saw more than 4.5 million total views over multi-day streams, as well as the music festival Abracadabra, which featured headlines including Diplo and Snoop Dogg.

While there is still much uncertainty about when venues will reopen to the public, some are beginning to offer their spaces as events for live streaming performances. Lead Phish singer Trey Anastasio recently hosted an eight-week residency at the icon New York venue, The Beacon Theater. By performing in a venue, it was necessary to enlist the support of the back of house staff for everything from lighting to audio, providing jobs for folks who haven’t been able to work for quite some time.

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How does this booming trend impact your strategy towards Music and how can this participate to reinforce the positioning of Twitch as a « go-to » platform for music artists & fans?

Tracy Chan – The pandemic definitely accelerated our plans for music on Twitch. Some of the initiatives we had in the pipeline for the next year were all of a sudden incredibly important right now. The team has worked hard over the last year to ensure that the music industry feels that it has the tools necessary to find success on Twitch.

This looked like developing a Creator Camp especially for musicians on Twitch to help them set up their channels and start streaming and offering new and expanded streaming software that simplifies the stream customization process.

We partnered with key industry players like Soundcloud and Bandsintown to help independent artists monetise tools on Twitch when they needed it the most.

We also created a Music directory that put music front and center on the Twitch home page. Within the directory we built out various sections by genre and type of performance to help the Twitch community more easily navigate the category. We think there is a huge opportunity for discovery on Twitch, and we want to emulate the success of Twitch as a discovery engine for the gaming community within the music industry. It’s not just a place to perform, but a place where you can build a loyal community of followers who will stream their favorite artist’s music, purchase merchandise and, when safe, buy tickets to see the artist in-concert.

But most importantly is how artists used Twitch to really change their relationships with fans. It used to be that live shows were the main way that artists connected with their fans. Now we’re seeing that artists are actively creating with their fans – for example Linkin Park’s Mike Shinoda created three albums over the summer with the Twitch community. It’s been incredible to see.

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Let’s talk about monetisation: what is your take about the evolution of Livestream Concerts as an economy and how can Twitch become a sustainable source of revenue for the Music ecosystem?

Tracy Chan – Many musicians make the majority of their income from touring and live performances, and it was heartbreaking to watch as venues would announce closures and artists would cancel or postpone their tours. That said, it’s also been inspiring to see the resilience of the industry and how artists and venues have embraced live streaming.

I’d argue that Twitch is already a sustainable source of revenue for artists. We have multiple music creators who are now making a meaningful income from streaming on Twitch. In fact, the number of music creators on track to make more than $25k in earnings has grown 1635% from January 2020 to February 2021. One of my favorite examples is Sereda. She went from driving for the delivery service Postmates to landing on the Billboard charts solely from album sales that she drove through her Twitch community. She actively involves her community at every step of the creation process and makes enough money from her streams to pay for her day-to-day expenses as well as her music production costs.

While we expect (and want!) venues to reopen and tours to resume, we believe there will always be a place for Twitch with artists who have started streaming during this time. They understand the value of the service as a place for connection, akin to an intimate backstage VIP experience even when there are thousands of people watching. Our hope is that they’ll use the service to perform, on a smaller more intimate level, while also simply chatting with and connecting with fans and bringing them deeper into the creation process.

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Learn from key players from the music industry and get their insights about virtual live experience in this exclusive Midem whitepaper that captures the essence of the current trends and take a look “behind the scenes” to unveil the key dynamics that will shape the future of music in the digital age.

These discussions will continue at Midem 2021 during the Live Summit and Midemlab “Live Music Experiences” pitch session.

Read more…

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