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Streaming and Live: Simple Minds?

The Gen was interested to read that Spotify is the latest tech company to dip its toes into the choppy waters of live music promotion. The streaming giant is set to host its first ever concert in the UK this November at London’s Alexandra Palace.

Staged in collaboration with promoter SJM Concerts, Who We Be Live takes place on Thursday, November 30 and will feature artists including J Hus, Bugzy Malone, Cardi B, Dizzee Rascal, Giggs and Stefflon Don.

An important point here is that Spotify are partnering with a national promoter and SJM’s promotion and operational expertise coupled with Spotify’s data could prove to be a potent combination.

Spotify emailed fans who listen the most actively to the artists involved and followers of the Who We Be playlist in the UK, with an opportunity to purchase presale tickets- an extension of the pre-sales it already runs around artist tours and fans who listen to them most on the service.

On the other side of the coin, Amazon’s live music division isn’t exactly off to a flying start, with Director of Prime Events (and former BBC live events exec) Jason Carter leaving after a week in the job , followed swiftly by Amazon Tickets GM Geraldine Wilson 

As previously reported, Apple has also taken a step back from live, recently announcing the end of its Apple Music festival after ten years.

The Gen is speculating but we imagine the corporate culture of Amazon to be greatly at odds with the slightly madcap, risk taking world of live promotion- below the most commercially successful level of artist, (your U2s, Sheerans and Coldplays), it’s quite frankly a day at the races.

Here is the thing- live is a complex business, with various nuances. From grassroots venues to arenas and festivals, the process is broadly similar-you book the show or tour, promote it and try to keep all of the plates spinning. These include sales, production licensing, marketing, ticketing, PR, event management, logistics, ancillary steams of income outside of ticketing revenue and a great deal more. Then the show happens and is either a success or not.  BUT it happens anyway.

It’s a completely different skill set and mentality to operating a subscription based music streaming service, which is proving to be the ultimate long game. The idea that you can simply transpose algorithms and create a successful live experience is overly simplistic, laughable even.

Spotify partnering with a national promoter who has the expertise to deliver a show is a step in the right direction. There is a great deal of potential to further link streaming data with ticketing and promotion and the two worlds can certainly learn a lot from each other- it was interesting to see Live Nation offering a subscription style global festival pass earlier this year and selling out its allocation.

Firstly, streaming companies need to realise, as Spotify seemingly have done that they need to work with the live industry and that putting on a show isn’t as simple as it looks.

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