What can we expect from live streaming music events in the future?

In April 2023, Coachella music festival announced that it would be streaming all its stages across both weekends for the first time via its YouTube channel. The festival has been live streaming selected performances since 2011, but not until last year were viewers able to watch the entire event for free on YouTube from their living room, a partnership that has now been extended until 2026. 

While live streaming music events is undoubtedly more entertaining than watching shaky clips on social media, is it really becoming a preferred modus operandi for music fans? In this article, we explore how trends in live music events might be shifting to favor online viewing, and how event organizers can ensure scalable, high-quality streaming to viewers around the world, for whom the online experience is their only option. 

A brief history of live streaming music events

The Covid-19 pandemic accelerated the integration of technology into the music industry, with live streaming becoming an essential part of music events today. But live streaming has been a popular phenomenon since the early days of YouTube in 2008. While it was not focused specifically on music events, the video platform paved the way for artists and festivals to begin experimenting with live streaming and connecting with a broader audience.

In 2011, California’s Coachella festival became one of the first major music festivals to embrace live streaming. Select performances were broadcast online, providing a new way for audiences around the world to experience the event remotely. In 2023, through a partnership with YouTube, viewers around the world were able to stream the entire festival across both weekends, and move between each stage just as festival-goers did. Glastonbury Festival in the U.K. has also been broadcast live for years through a partnership with the BBC. When BBC iPlayer made it possible to stream live television in 2008, viewers were also able to stream Glastonbury Festival live online. 

The next stage in the evolution of live streaming was introduced in 2016 through social media platforms Facebook Live and Instagram Live. Both platforms, currently owned by Meta, became popular tools for live streaming music content. Artists used these platforms to engage directly with their followers, share content from behind-the-scenes and even live performances. Later, in 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic played a significant role in the growth of live streaming music events. Between March and August 2020, with half the world locked down and live events of all kinds canceled, live streamed events increased by 300%. 

The recent success of streaming music events

While live streaming will never fully replace the lived experience, it may be a preferred option for those who have become accustomed to the comfort of their own home, while metaphysically transported elsewhere. Recent releases and trends in concert films have shown that there is huge demand for ‘at-home’ concert experiences, making way for a more dynamic and hybrid product. Taylor Swift's The Eras Tour concert film, released in 2023, has made over $261.6 million globally, overtaking the previous record-holder, Michael Jackson's This Is It

According to a recent survey, some 66% of event organizers state that live sessions contribute to higher audience engagement and overall event success. By launching hybrid products and events, such as Swift’s The Eras Tour, or Beyoncé’s Renaissance World Tour, released in theaters in 2023, organizers and artists were able to expand accessibility and viewership to include audiences that were unable to attend live concerts and events in person, increase revenue, enhance fidelity, and improve quality of experience for viewers.

Edge Intelligence: Infinitely scalable live streaming 

As viewers around the world become more accustomed to watching live events in real time, including music concerts, sports games and video gaming, content providers need to be prepared to evolve their broadcasting strategies in order to enhance their service without skyrocketing costs. System73’s Edge Intelligence solution employs a centrally orchestrated broadcast tree that harnesses Edge devices to expand your network, even in regions with limited infrastructure. 

By reducing the need to share content over a multi-CDN framework, Edge Intelligence’s centralized peer to peer networks allow content providers to decrease overhead and exposure to the risk of server failure caused by overloads. Large-scale live events can now be streamed seamlessly by remote audiences, with the highest bit rate on end-user devices 94% of the time, resulting in high quality of experience (QoE), fewer buffering events and less churn. 

The increased popularity of both recorded and live music concerts makes a compelling case for the future of live streaming large-scale music events. Integrating in-person, live and virtual experiences can help create a sense of connection to the performer, or even to a movement larger than the performer themself. By removing geographical and economic barriers, event organizers and content providers can reach diverse audiences, offer a more cost-effective experience, increase revenue, and ultimately boost an artist's following.

For more information about Edge Intelligence, or to book a call, visit system73.com.