Streaming Tank talk to LiveUK about streaming and the music industry
Streaming Tank were approached to contribute to a special Summer edition of LiveUK magazine which examined the current market and trends in online music. Our Business Director, Helen Kavanagh, discusses her experiences in live streaming for the music industry. An excerpt was published in the physical magazine, but you read the full Q&A here.
What do you specialise in? What can you offer live music clients?
Streaming Tank is an award-winning video production and live streaming agency. We fuse broadcast experience with innovative technology to create bespoke digital experiences for our clients’ audiences. We offer a wide range of solutions to music clients – streaming to social (Twitter, facebook, YouTube), pay-per-view content hubs, shareable players and unlockable content, 360 degree streaming apps and much more!
How has business been for you over the past year? Is the broadcast market growing for live music?
The consumer appetite for the live streaming of gigs and performances is huge, and still growing. Internet capabilities continue to improve and a new generation of artists is emerging for whom the web is already a key part of their lives as ‘performers’. 2014 was the first year that the music industry’s global digital revenues matched physical format sales, demonstrating the shift in internet user consumption. And the stats reflect that…
- Video streaming continues to grow in popularity worldwide. Advertising-supported revenues, which come largely from video streaming services, increased by 38.6 per cent in 2014
- 9 out of the 10 most watched YT videos are music related
- As digital music sales and streaming services such as Spotify have started dominating the market, musicians’ revenue streams from ‘sales’ have decline. The area in which artists now look to generate much of their revenue is in concert ticket sales – concerts obviously have a limit in terms of audience space, but live video streaming opens up more potential digital revenue streams – pay-per-view, advertising revenue, or brand sponsorship deals
What do clients want in terms of delivery of their live music broadcasts? Do you often follow a specific brief or is there room to get creative?
Our briefs are very varied, and are generally tied into the client goal – where the client is often the brand sponsor rather than the artist or label itself. As such, the KPIs are not ‘sales’ but more likely to be eyeballs, engagement by a particular audience demographic, and brand positioning. Or it could be specifically likes and reactions on a social media channel such as Facebook. Our most creative projects come about when the client wants to deliver a ‘world first, or be associated with a live stream that garners heavy press attention. This could be a live stream from the top of a mountain, the first live gig to an Oculus headset, or a live broadcast to out of home screens. For example, we’ve worked on…
– an interactive 20 angle player for a Rihanna gig
– single launches via Twitter (for Blur)
– 360 streaming for Coca Cola’s ‘March Madness’
Similarly, what do audiences want? What needs to be kept in mind in terms of live music broadcast content in terms of these needs?
Audience expectations really centre around access and quality – they typically do not expect to pay for content and they expect the experience to be seamless and akin to watching on a television. For Streaming Tank, this means it’s key for us to ensure fast connectivity onsite so we can get a beautiful HD feed to the audience, and we also need to make sure we are encoding for as wide a variety of devices as possible to ensure there are no barriers to entry.
Do you think you no longer need to have a ticket to the event to fully experience and enjoy it?
I don’t think there is any experience that quite replicates being at a gig itself. The atmosphere of seeing the artist in the flesh and being surrounded by like-minded fans is a sensory experience that can’t be replicated. But in terms of a remote, digital experience we are closer than ever to delivering something similar. 360 technology replicates the visual experience of being at a gig (and sometimes improves on it – a front of house rig is a better view that a back row seat up in the gods!); and broadcasting to social media channels allows fans to interact in real time with each other – and for the younger audience posting and commenting on a Facebook page is already part of ‘real life’.
Hiccups will happen – how do you overcome the ‘unexpected’?
Experience: the experiences of working across thousands of live events, in all sectors, really is key. Every event brings new location with new onsite partners and unique broadcast aims. There’s so many variables that can come into play – internet line nuances, cabling issues, licensing issues, third party platform changes – and it’s important that the team onsite are able to be agile and flexible in responding to them. Preparation is also key and it’s important to put redundancies in place such as mobile internet provision, back up streams, and holding content for online fans.
How do you work with other suppliers within the show to deliver your broadcasts?
As a supplier we sometimes deliver all of the production and broadcast, and sometimes we work hand-in-hand with other teams. On some gigs we bring in specialist partners ourselves – this could be anything from a particular director with music experience, through to a drone cam and operator. Or, we might be introduced to the client’s other suppliers. For us, that’s a normal occurrence so we try to make sure our own workflow is as flexible as possible to ensure integrating with other teams is painless. It is important to try and get lines of communication open with partner suppliers as soon as possible to ensure everyone’s remit is clear and any tweaks to our solution can be addressed well before the rig.
For outdoor – how does weather play its part in your broadcast/what precautions and considerations do you need to take?
Streaming Tank solutions are as ‘weatherproof’ as it’s possible to be. Our kit can be put in place with rain covers, and we have robust specialist kit to deal with adverse weather conditions. If the audience is still there, so are we!
Any new developments in AV or technology in this sector?
We are right in the middle of an industry whirlpool at the moment. The first change, which will continue, is simply that more events will be streamed live to the web. More traditional, corporate industries are starting to see the necessity and value of streaming events. And there’s a widespread democratisation of content/events, making ‘expensive’ events (gigs, plays, opera) now affordable. A great example of this is National Theatre Live events which are streamed into local cinemas. The same goes with previously ‘exclusive’ events – VIP intmate gigs being a good example! You can get a front row seat to an Ed Sheeran gig whilst sitting at home on your laptop.
In terms of tech developments, for adventurous brands, 360 and VR is the big thing for 2016. It’s huge across sport, entertainment, music, fashion and gaming. This will continue, and live streams will be increasingly delivered to Google Cardboard apps, Gear VR, Oculus and 360 apps on web and tablets. The launch of 360 capabilities on YouTube and now Facebook is a key indicator of this. Virtual Reality, 360 streaming and wearable tech are all areas that streaming agencies need to keep an eye on.
Outside this, user interaction and reward is always important – video players that allow users to select their view, accessing special content (such as going backstage, or a post-gig online twitter Q&A), or the ability to win prizes are also popular.
Do you have any final comments?
A final area to keep an eye on is the continued exploitation / integrations with social media destinations. There’s a need for constant invaluable research and analysis of user behaviour on the web and their engagement with video. As an example (and a plug!), back in 2012 Streaming Tank used Twitter as a stream destination for Blur to perform live and release new tracks, successfully propelling them to the top of the iTunes charts. And, at a different level, the social media companies themselves are going to direct the way the live streaming industry goes. Facebook and YouTube in particular will shape the industry with the technology they develop and what technology they allow the public (or brands) access to.