Investigating the monetisation of live streams of musical performances in the wake of COVID-19

Lead Research Organisation: Middlesex University
Department Name: Faculty of Arts & Creative Industries


Live performances are a vital income source for over 80% of musicians.[1] The COVID19 lockdown put a temporary stop to performances in concert venues, while social distancing measures are likely to restrict audiences for months to come, with regular attenders deciding to stay at home and venues having to reduce capacity to adhere to government regulations. The result is a severe loss of income for musicians.

Lockdown saw a number of musicians turn to streaming performances live from their homes and some continue to do so. However, while having the potential to make up for loss of earnings from other sources, these live streams are rarely being monetised. A shift in thinking about the value of live streaming performances needs to be instigated. Musicians expect adequate remuneration for the streaming of recordings (on platforms such as Spotify) and attach high value to live performances in physical spaces. Live performances in the digital sphere, however, do not, as yet, seem to carry such value for musicians.

COVID19 has the potential to be the catalyst for 'creative destruction', bringing into question traditional music industry business models while offering new ones. This research project will investigate optimum ways of monetising live streamed performances. The outcome of the research is an Open Access report for musicians, featuring best practice guidelines and focusing on the staging of virtual concerts; technical requirements; streaming platforms; methods of generating income; collaborations with venues; and online audience engagement.

The report will equip musicians with knowledge that they need to quickly and efficiently access new income sources from live streaming performances.

Key findings from the report will be disseminated to over 50,000 UK musicians by the project's partner organisations, including the Musicians' Union, the Incorporated Society of Musicians, and the Music Venue Trust, while the full report will be downloadable from a project-specific website.

[1] Musicians' Union, The Working Musician report, 2012


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