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Live Streamed Concerts are Here to Stay Concludes Middlesex University London-led Report

The MU were one of the project partners in the research that led to this report, and it now offers musicians an insight into fans’ experiences and expectations of live streamed gigs and concerts.

Published: 13 May 2021 | 3:55 PM
Photograph zoomed in to the volume dials on an electric guitar, with the sun shining brightly on the polished wood.
95% of fans say emotional engagement from the artist during live stream concerts is important to them. Photo credit: Shutterstock

Middlesex University-led research into live streaming music gigs, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, has found artists are overwhelmingly positive about the power of accessing new audiences through live streaming, and that most music fans are not deterred by having to pay for these shows.

You can read the report in full on the Live Streaming Music website.

The research, which involved King’s College London and project partners including the MU, the Incorporated Society of Musicians, the Music Venue Trust, and jazz promoter Serious, also offers musicians an insight into fans’ experiences and expectations of live streamed gigs and concerts, plus detailed advice on the technical and legal aspects of live streaming.

Highlights from the research bring interesting insights

A survey of musicians and concertgoers for the study, covering both classical and popular music across a wide variety of genres, found:

  • 90% of musicians and 92% of fans agreed live streaming concerts will in future be a successful tool to reach audiences unable or unwilling to go to physical venues. Over two thirds of those surveyed agreed livestreaming shows will remain an important part of the landscape after the pandemic.
  • 72% of live music fans and 74% of musicians agree that live streamed performances should be paid for. In addition, 62% of fans say the cost of paywalls for live streamed shows aren’t a barrier. 78% of fans would be prepared to pay for a live stream show by an artist who is offering some other live streamed content for free
  • 95% of fans say emotional engagement from the artist during live stream concerts is important to them. 82% agreed that performers acknowledging individuals’ presence in the audience during a live stream made them feel connected

Principal Investigator, Middlesex University Senior Lecturer in Music Business and Arts Management Julia Haferkorn said:

“There were numerous comments from attenders unable to visit physical venues, even in non-pandemic times, expressing their appreciation of the availability of live streamed concerts. Attenders also expressed an appreciation for being able to watch concerts by artists from other countries”.

Musicians were split in their opinions about their future financial prospects from live streaming concerts, with 56% disagreeing and 44% agreeing that, long term, earnings from live streaming will provide a viable, additional income stream.

Large majorities of fans surveyed said that performers talking to the audience and acknowledging individuals’ presence during a live stream performance made them feel connected. The study notes that for this feeling of connection to have full effect, the live stream needs to remain a one-off and live experience, not recorded.

Hopes that the report will make it easier for musicians to use live streams as an additional income source

1484 people took part in the survey – 48% fans, 52% musicians. The researchers contacted 200 concert venues and 20 music and arts publications, inviting them to send out the survey, and interviewed five musicians, four concert promoters and a charity as part of the study.

Julia Haferkorn says: “The vast majority of musicians have been hit very hard financially by the pandemic. We are hoping that our report will make it easier for musicians to use monetised live streams as an additional income source”.

Study co-author Brian Kavanagh, Lecturer in Digital Innovation at King’s College London said: “The most interesting insight from our research is the important role that livestreaming plays in giving music fans who suffer from social anxiety or other health-related issues access to live music performance.

Co-author Sam Leak, Lecturer in Popular Music at Middlesex University and a jazz pianist by profession, says:

“Our research has highlighted how important it is for audience members to be able to communicate with, and feel connected to, each other and the musicians performing. As a performer, this finding is interesting to me not only because it impacts my livestreaming practice, but also because it could well enhance the experience of my audiences in physical venues."


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