When Billie Eilish performs her “Where Do We Go? The Livestream” global concert on Oct. 24, the Grammy-winning alt-pop star will be armed with a merchandise integration tool aimed at maximizing revenue during livestreamed shows.
That’s because Maestro, the livestreaming platform partner for the event, is today (Oct. 19) launching a new partnership with e-commerce platform Shopify to let artists integrate merch stores directly within their livestreams — with Eilish being the first to use the feature. The slight change in user interface can make a big difference for sales: While most livestreaming platforms let artists link out to merch sites, it’s difficult to incentivize viewers to take that extra step. But allowing viewers to browse merch, add items to a cart and check out without ever leaving the stream “lessens attrition, because it enables a lot of one-click shopping,” Maestro executive vice president of revenue Jordan Udko tells Billboard. “We’re making it a seamless integration.”
Founded in 2015, Maestro is a white-label service which allows artists to design and host interactive livestreams on the website of their choosing, and supplies them with real-time data during each stream to help understand fan engagement and maximize financial returns. During the pandemic, clients like Erykah Badu and Melissa Etheridge have used Maestro to launch ticketed livestreams on their official websites, with Etheridge’s subscription-based series reportedly raking in $50,000 a month.
“Imagine if Twitch and Squarespace had a baby — that’s Maestro,” says founder and CEO Ari Evans. “It’s super easy to set up and can be customized in every way possible. By integrating with Shopify and enabling virtual stores to be created within live streams, we are furthering our mission of growing the GDP of the creator economy. We want Maestro to be a creator’s best friend, empowering and supporting them with the tools to grow their video businesses. We are delighted to see the growing wave of customers taking control and gaining direct access to their audience data and monetization strategy.”
Eilish has already rolled out an exclusive merchandise line for attendees, who purchased livestream tickets for $30 a pop. Proceeds from select items will go toward Live Nation’s Crew Nation fund supporting concert crews affected by coronavirus-related cancellations. For merch purchased through the Shopify integration, Shopify collects a 5% fee, excluding tax and shipping.
As the music industry embraces livestreaming amid the pandemic, Udko adds, success is no longer about viewership alone, but the ability to “join as a viewer, leave as a customer and a member of the community.”
“Creators continue to voice the importance of varied revenue streams and this Shopify integration allows us to offer a major new tool in the kit,” he says. “We’re excited to launch this for Billie’s upcoming stream and make this available to all creators looking to monetize their passion.”
Eilish’s event is poised to be one of the biggest pandemic-time livestreams yet. The 18-year-old singer and songwriter sold out her entire 2020 Where Do We Go? World Tour, promoting her smash 2019 debut album When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?, but was only able to perform three dates in March before canceling the remainder due to the pandemic.
The world tour sold 500,000 tickets within the first hour of going on-sale, according to Pollstar. Keeping in mind that livestreamed concerts allow for a near-limitless audience, if those same 500,000 super-fans purchased tickets to the Oct. 24 livestream, the single-night event would gross $15 million — more than 10 times the $1.4 million that Eilish grossed during one of the three physical tour dates she was able to perform, according to figures reported to Billboard Boxscore.
Adding merchandise to the equation, if just 5% of those 500,000 potential ticketholders used the Shopify integration to purchase one of Eilish’s $35 branded T-shirts during the show, the artist would gross roughly another $830,000 (taking into account the Shopify fee).
Artists interested in using the Shopify integration through Maestro can find more information here. Maestro isn’t the only livestreaming platform which directly integrates merchandise, although few offer this option. Noonchorus, a platform which has hosted streams for artists like Angel Olsen and Devendra Banhart, for example, embeds artists’ merch stores in their livestream webpages, and does not take a cut of merchandise sales.