After more than a dozen concert livestreaming platforms launched amid the pandemic, the industry is entering a new phase of consolidation. The latest acquisition? Popular concert livestreamer Mandolin is gobbling up competitor NoonChorus, a go-to for indie acts like Angel Olsen and Japanese Breakfast.
Both Mandolin and NoonChorus launched in spring 2020, just as the world was entering lockdown. Mandolin was started up by former Salesforce executive Mary Kay Huse and has taken a tech-first approach, touting features like fan data insights and Mandolin Live+, its suite of tools for virtual-real life hybrid events. NoonChorus co-founders brothers Alex and Andrew Jensen have promoted an artist-first mentality, giving performers 100% of their earnings from ticket sales and merch stores embedded on-screen.
In a company blog post, Huse explained that the company now wants to bring the music industry on board with the hybrid model, where artists set up virtual tour stops as well as virtual elements for their in-person shows. “The path is twofold: Accelerating fan adoption of the technology while obtaining the supply of content to feed their desires,” she wrote. “Our acquisition of NoonChorus a huge step along the journey.”
Huse name-checked NoonChorus’ “impressive, highly-engaged fan base” and network of artists and partners as reasons for the acquisition, as well as her impression of the founders as “young and fast-moving, but knowledgeable and respectful of tradition.” NoonChorus has hosted more than 650 shows and generated $4 million in artist revenue since its founding, according to the press release.
“We are so glad to be joining forces with the folks at Mandolin in our effort to help artists connect more deeply with fans across the globe,” Andrew Jensen said in a statement. “By joining forces with Mandolin, we’ll be able to offer artists an even deeper toolset to excite and reward their in-person and digital fanbases. We are excited to put on the best livestream concerts of 2021 and beyond together.”
Mandolin will transition all of NoonChorus’ fans, artists and venues over to its platform by mid-October.
NoonChorus marks Mandolin’s first acquisition, and follows a $12 million Series A funding round in June. The company has exclusive partnerships with The Ryman Auditorium, City Winery Nationwide and indie booking agency Ground Control Touring, which represents Waxahatchee and Parquet Courts, and will exclusively livestream Firefly Music Festival starting Thursday (Sept. 23) in partnership with AEG Presents. Mandolin makes its money by charging artists and venues a subscription for services like production assistance, equipment consulting and show support. Pricing varies depending on the number of shows, average audience size and other factors.
All signs point to further consolidation in the crowded livestreaming sector. In January, Live Nation took a majority stake in Joel and Benji Madden‘s popular service Veeps; and virtual events platform Hopin, founded in 2019, acquired livestreaming studio StreamYard for $250 million. In July, VNUE, a company that records and releases live concert videos, announced plans to acquire the more than decade-old livestreaming company StageIt, which has put on shows with artists like Ingrid Michaelson and Joshua Radin.
Meanwhile, livestreaming companies may face an uphill battle in convincing music fans to tune in online now that in-person shows have resumed. According to MRC Data’s 2021 U.S. Music 360 report, only 5% of respondents said they have attended a virtual concert or livestreamed performance in the past year, and only 5% plan to attend one in the upcoming year. The most common reasons were “I choose to spend my time with other forms of entertainment” and “I did not want to pay for a virtual concert.”