Live Music’s Long, Strange Trip Over The Top

Live music has been on a bit of an over-the-top roll lately. The five shows in the Grateful Dead’s Fare Thee Well tour, which wrapped up in Chicago over the weekend, together racked up more than 175,000 paid live streams, making it easily one of the largest paid live music events ever to go over the top. Archived shows will be available through August 5, which will push the combined live and on-demand numbers even higher.

Though major festivals like Coachella and Bonaroo draw bigger online live audiences, those shows are free; the Dead shows cost $79.95 for the full, five-day run (individual shows were less). Archived shows will remain available through August 5, which will push the combined live and on-demand PPV take even higher.

Grateful_DeadWhile the Dead may be sui generis when it comes to pay-per-view streaming, live music streaming in general is attracting new interest from both startups and established players in the concert business.

This week brought word of a partnership between Verizon Digital Media Services and LiveXLive to live stream at least three day-long festivals this fall in the U.S. and internationally.

Launched in May, LiveXLive is a subsidiary of hedge-fund backed Loton Corp., created to pursue what its founders believe is a growing opportunity in live music streaming.  While live-streaming music festivals obviously is not new, LiveXLive’s is thinking much more ambitiously.

According to the launch press release, LiveXLive wants to create a 24-hour over-the-top linear network around live music modeled on what ESPN is to sports and CNN is to news.

“We’re endeavoring to create the ESPN of premium live music experience,” LiveXLive president John Petrocelli told CM this week. “It’s our belief that there should be a home for these premium experiences because that world still seems very fragmented. Music is really the last major media category that doesn’t have a home the way sports has ESPN.”

According to Petrocelli, the dedicated network will feature concerts, performances, evenings out at a particular venue, content from broadcast partners, as well as some on-demand content. The network will have its own online portal but will be focused heavily on mobile devices, Petrocelli said. LiveXLive also expects to work with device makers and mobile carriers to gain distribution.

Before coming to LiveXLive, Petrocelli spent several years at AEG Digital Media, the digital arm of the giant concert and live event producer where he worked on live streaming major events such as the Coachella festival, as well as the Grammy’s, the Oscar’s and the Royal Wedding.

“My team and I have been at this for over a decade now, so we know our way around it.”

As Petrocelli sees it, LiveXLive is riding two massive global waves. One is the massive adoption of mobile devices and the “off the charts” levels of engagement with music on them. The other is the rapid global growth in festivals.

“Working at AEG I got a sort of bird’s eye view of how Coachella comes together digitally, and it was really incredible,” he said. “You had people buying tickets online before any bands were announced, you had brands wanting to get involved because now they could extend their in-venue or on-stage presence globally through digital. But of the thousands and thousands of music festivals each year six had any kind of digital strategy. So there was just a massive opportunity there.”

By LiveXLive’s count, there are over 3,500 festivals and more than 40,000 concerts at over 1,000 venues around the world each year.

“And it’s not just music. The festival business has really exploded globally,” Petrocelli said. “It’s arts, its cultural, it’s all kinds of things.”

Another factor spurring digital interest in live music is improving tools for monetizing it. The giant concert and live event producer Live Nation this week announced plans to expand its Fan Connect programmatic ad platform to give brands new ways to engage consumers around music, by leveraging data from ticket sales, app activation, beacons at its venues and other sources.

Through its acquisition of Ticketmaster in 2009, Live Nation now has a wealth of data on who its customers are, where they will be at particular times, how many people they will be with and other parameters, which it plans to make available to marketers for both online and offline targeting. The company aims to capitalize on its ability to know where and when an individual will be in one of its venues or festivals, from famous music halls like the Fillmore and the Gramercy Theatre to its four-day Bonnaroo music festival.

“Because we have these owned and operated offline/online properties, it gives us a whole new way to target individuals across a variety of screens,” Live Nation SVP of digital sales, Jeremy Levine, told AdExchanger.

Rock on.

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