Chart Beat

The Year in Livestreams 2020: Veeps Puts the 'V' in VIP for Artists and Fans Alike

Brandi Carlile
Getty Images for All In WA

Brandi Carlile performs during All In WA: A Concert For COVID-19 Relief on June 24, 2020 in Washington.

As previously reported, Elton John topped Billboard’s year-end Top Tours ranking, while Radio City Music Hall and Live Nation crowned the annual Top Venues and Top Promoters lists. But in 2020, traditional touring did not account for the full landscape of the live music industry.

Amidst an indefinite COVID-19 shutdown, artists took to the internet, broadcasting live from empty theaters, outdoor landmarks and their own living rooms.

This week, Billboard is remembering the year in livestreams, with highlights from some of the major digital platforms that connected fans to their favorite artists. Here, we dive into some notable events from Veeps.

Beyonce, Taylor Swift, Rihanna Rank on Forbes' 'World's 100 Most Powerful Women' | Billboard News

Born in 2017, Veeps follows other platforms we’ve recapped such as Twitch and StageIt that have been gaining prominence online for years but became essential tools for the music industry in 2020. The company was initially in the business of providing VIP on-site services for smaller artists at concerts, acting as an add-on to their greater touring business.

But with the sudden burst of livestreaming demand, Veeps adjusted – they got the digital, technical, and production specs to support what quickly became a livestream service. With a for-artists-by-artists mentality, their ticketed streams are commission free, and fan VIP bonuses and cross-platform promotion remain pillars of their strategy.

One artist who got the most of his experience was Liam Payne. The pop star took a multi-channel approach in the lead-up to his Halloween livestream, with announcements and promotional campaigns on TikTok and Instagram, as well as Veeps’ own rollout. Further, he took to 2020’s MVP social media network, Zoom, for intimate VIP fan engagements.

Ultimately, the 360-approach paid off with a staggering count of 3.7 billion chat messages during the stream. A portion of the proceeds from Payne’s performance went to The Trussell Trust.

The merchandise and extra VIP experiences aren’t just an extra piece of monetization – U.K. metal band Architects made more than 25% of their Veeps revenue from merch sales alone – it helps build the direct-to-fan relationship. And not just for the artists streaming, but for Veeps itself. Throughout the year, the industry at large learned how to use the platform’s tools to stay connected in a consistent way.

Brandi Carlile started a weekly series of album-based shows in May, and Rufus Wainwright ultimately performed 33 streams on the platform, more than any other artist in 2020. Further, New York’s boutique The Bowery Electric presented more than 30 “Live Premiere Sessions.”

And with all that action, the best is seemingly yet to come. Louis Tomlinson’s Dec. 12 stream (benefitting FareShare, Crew Nation, Stagehand, and Bluebell Wood Children’s Hospice) is already Veeps’ best-selling stream of the year, in excess of $1 million. That’s a startling number for one livestream considering the platform that was circling the seven-figure total in cumulative 2020 grosses back in June.

As of Dec. 9, Veeps has grossed over $10 million in 2020 via more than 1,000 ticketed livestreams. Further, November was the platform’s biggest month yet, with grosses doubling those of October. With Tomlinson’s stream this weekend leading the pack, December may likely extend that growth on the brink of the new year.