What a year it’s been! At the beginning of 2020, Elton John, Celine Dion, Post Malone, and many, many more were filling arenas and ticket sales were continuing at a seemingly unstoppable pace. Now, in mid-December, we’re nine months out from the last proper concerts and tens of thousands of livestreams deep.
To be exact, we’re 60,905 livestreams deep, according to data from Bandsintown from March 25 through Dec. 12. Throughout 2020, the concert discovery site has tracked livestream listings from nearly 20,000 artists and allowed fans to rsvp and directly click-through to watch their favorite artists’ broadcasts.
There was a massive surge at first, growing from an average of 139 streams per day in late March, to 307 in April and 391 in May. Following the initial boom, the volume of livestreams cooled but has stabilized and even rebounded in recent months. After four months of steady decline, the daily average rose by 16% in October and is pacing up 5% in December, with over 2,200 streams played through the 12th of the month.
Even more promising than the once-novel approach to live performance readying itself for stability and expansion in 2021, is the rise in paid livestreams. While free and donation-based concerts overwhelmed the marketplace in the early months of COVID lockdown, artists and fans alike have opened the door to monetizing livestreams.
In June, ticketed livestreams accounted for less than two percent of the total number of daily broadcasts. In November, following months of double-and-triple-digit percentage increases, they accounted for more than half.
That rise has been steady, with the number of paid streams growing each month. This shift is not just due to artists charging for tickets as a way to earn a living – fans have naturally adjusted as well. A Bandsintown survey showed that 80% of fans are now ready to watch a live broadcast.
What has been steady throughout the year, is the separation of major artists (those with 250,001 or more trackers or Bandsintown) and buzzing acts (those with 10,000 or fewer trackers). Buzzing artists have performed over 46,000 livestreams in 2020, or 77% of the total streams tracked on Bandsintown. Major artists account for just 3.9% of the pie, while rising artists (those with between 10,001-250,000 trackers) make up 19.1% of the whole.
Bandsintown tracked livestreams of all kinds, not just music performances. And so, the site’s top buzzing artist of 2020 (determined by ‘Notify Me’ reminders) is not actually an up-and-coming band or rapper, but the Dalai Lama himself. The spiritual leader performed a series of livestreams around his 85th birthday that included material from his debut album Inner World, mixing lectures, mantras, chants, and new music. His finale performance on July 8 had 3,626 reminders.
The platform’s top rising act of the year is the artist who performed more livestreams than anyone else: Melissa Etheridge. The rock singer-songwriter went live 180 times between March 25 and Dec. 12, performing, on average, two out of every three days for the last nine months. Etheridge peaked with 32 streams in September, obviously doubling-up on certain days.
But despite the overwhelming majority of livestream listings coming from buzzing and rising acts, it was still the world’s arena and stadium acts who packed the biggest punch. Bandsintown’s top act of 2020 overall was Pearl Jam, with over 79,000 Notify Me reminders. But contrary to Etheridge’s consistent approach, the Seattle rockers’ gold medal is in large part due to two streams. Their livestreams on April 18 and June 24 combined to more than 80% of the band’s year-long engagement.