As online live shows, festivals, and concerts are becoming more and more mainstream and developing into a solid part of the music industry, complete with full-fledged ticketing, the question many are asking is – can the income from online concerts be actually sustainable? How much and, more importantly, how frequently the fans might be willing to pay to watch your events?
In one of our previous posts, we’ve discussed the amounts musicians stand to profit from online concerts, even with a small fanbase. Bundled with merch or additional perks like online meetups, pre-show access, song requests, and the like, online concerts can be just as profitable as their in-person counterparts.
But earning a few hundred or thousand on a ticketed online show is not going to dramatically push your music business forward unless this is something you can do regularly. This is why in this post we will tackle the topic of ticketed online show frequency and the factors that can determine how frequently you can afford to hold these events.
To decide when, how, and at what price to hold your online shows, you need to know your fanbase very well – are they still active on your social media? Are they still buying your music and merch and asking for a show? How many of them have been affected by the pandemic? Is your fanbase growing?
By being attuned to the requests and behavior of your fans, you will be able to ballpark their interest in online events from you. Your next step is to hold your first online concert and estimate the demand by testing it out.
After you hold your very first online show, it’s time to take a good look at the campaign.
How fast did your tickets sell? How was your first event received? How easy was it to sell the tickets and how much promotion did you do? What was the feedback? Did you get requests for more shows or any specific requests along the lines of please play this or that song or for a specific format/time zone for a future, etc.?
If your show went well and there were enough tickets sold to incentivize you to hold another event, it’s time to look at your options here.
What you have to offer, creatively
After you hold one or a handful of ticketed online streams, it’s time to get a game plan. Here, you have two main options – a weekly/biweekly recurring event or varying themes/formats/audiences.
The weekly or otherwise regular event is something that has first been adopted by online music streamers (often celebrity) who did not ticket their shows. One great example is UK’s disco queen Sophie Ellis-Bextor who held Kitchen Disco broadcasts every Friday on her Instagram for almost 3 months to cheer up her fans during the lockdown.
Latin-American band Los Soneros has been very successful with their Saturday show series as their fans tune in from all over the globe, although the band lives and works in London, making their in-person events not available to a large portion of their global fanbase.
Mind you, whichever format you choose, playing the same old show week after week is going to stop working really fast, so you have to bring something new to the table with each of your shows. So if you can come up with new stuff for your every event, you should definitely hold that ticketed online show.
The second option arguably requires a little more creativity and promotion, but will be suitable for musicians and bands with a different type of audience. It’s shows that are themed differently, feature varying content and unique topics, are in diverse formats, are scheduled to suit different time zones, etc.
If your audience can easily be divided into sections according to their interests, geography/time zones, or even age groups, you should pick this direction and develop your live event concepts this way.
Think how segmented your audience is and if you can offer events that cater to their respective interests/time zones. Do you have clusters of fans in different regions/countries, are there age groups? If you can divide your fanbase in these niche groups and develop custom events to engage each of them, then you are a shoe-in for multiple successful events.
Another good reason to hold more online shows is tapping into new audiences.
If you can expand your reach with the help of partnerships with influencers, media, or with collabs, holding an event is a must.
Your fans who have already been to your online events might want to experience something new or meet your guest star, while partnering up with media, companies, or influencers with their own audiences who might not know you and will discover your art for the first time can not only add to ticket sales this one time, but expand your fanbase.
Partners can often help you with show promotion and marketing materials, which can make all the difference in ticket sales.
The key to turning online concerts into one of the streams of income from your music is a combination of creativity and being attentive to your fans’ needs and requests, as well as working on growing your fanbase.
We hope that with our advice above and a little of your own trial and error, you’ll be able to figure out the best online concert pace for you. The one that will leave your fans and your bank account a little happier than before!