Side Door co-founders, Laura Simpson and Dan Mangan. Photo: Lindsay Duncan
Side Door co-founders, Laura Simpson and Dan Mangan. Photo: Lindsay Duncan

Premium Live Streaming: TFA, Live Nation, Side Door and More

The commercial live music video-streaming performance space is starting to mature, as evidenced by the announcement that The Feldman Agency has licensed Sessions, a platform that evolved from the gaming industry and has been re-tooled for music. Co-founded by Tim Westergren, the former founder of Pandora, Sessions launched in March and now has a global reach, and is free to use.

With just a laptop and a microphone, musicians can perform live, cultivate a global fanbase, and make a sustainable income from home, according to the sell-sheet for the service that is available online at SessionsLive.com or on mobile using an IOS or android app. Tyler Shaw is the first to use SessionsLive.ca with a 30-minute stream hosted by the pop star last Friday the 14th  . Tickets were scaled between $4.99 and $7.50.

Following an extensive search of live interactive streaming platforms, it was clear that Sessions offered an elite proprietary advertising algorithm that stood out from the others,” TFA President Jeff Craib said in a statement.  This provides a distinct advantage for Sessions Live Canada as a platform and for the artists that use it.” 

More about the platform can be found here.

Melissa Etheridge taps her audience

Melissa Etheridge is the frontrunner in the sweepstakes to make some serious coin out of live-streams. According to Rolling Stone, since June the Grammy and Oscar-winning singer-songwriter has amassed more than 1,000 subscribers who pay $50 a month for all access. Single show tickets cost $10. She’s streaming five days a week using Maestro, an interactive live video streaming platform and is potentially pulling in $600K or more in the first 12 months.

Facebook sees opportunity

Facebook Live has announced it too is joining in the fray to become a dominant player in the fee-based live-stream sector, but they have some catching up to do. According to one report, the option for ticketing has been launched in some 20 markets, with the platform waiving its Facebook Pay percentage and paying creators 100% in the first year.

Live Nation paves the way to live online

Live Nation’s live-streaming operation attracted 67 million fans to watch over 18,000 concerts and festivals between them in Q2 – including 150 performances of its Virtual Lollapalooza Festival earlier this month. LN’s streams use LiveXLive Media (pronounced Live “by” Live) as its backbone, which has streamed over 1000 events in 2020. Live Nation Canada, meantime, has extended its run of ‘Live From Inside’ homegrown streamed shows from Vancouver’s Commodore Ballroom and Toronto’s Velvet Underground. The first in the series is Five Alarm Funk on August 20, followed by performances from Peach Pit, and Frazey Ford. More shows are TBA, the company reports.

It is to be expected that Live Nation’s longstanding relationships with blue-chip sponsors and top draw acts, so it stands to reason we will see the creation of superstar concert streams at some point.

Canada’s Laura Simpson & Dan Mangan’s Side Door concert platform

Originally launched for in-person shows, the Halifax-based Side Door interactive and ticketed platform quickly adapted to the pandemic with a scalable platform that allows acts to monetize live shows with a global reach.

“We founded this company to build a friendly and transparent global marketplace that fosters a thriving middle class of artistry,” says co-founder and CEO Laura Simpson and, to this end, the company does this in spades.

The artist-friendly ticketing IP allows for revenue splits at the point of sale so that presenters can continue to promote online shows as they did in the real world. And it’s an artist-minded backend design that allows for negotiated splits, helps artists sell more tickets. Payouts are immediate, taxes are sorted and PROs are paid out.

As of the end of July, Side Door had facilitated 270 interactive online shows since the covid lockdown. The average gross comes in at $1,195.07 (yes, they really keep tabs on the money), the average ticket price (which artists get to set) is $8.66 (with taxes), and the top gross (so far) is $19,280.

Side Door is capable of working with any streaming service that a user prefers.

Zoom has been one of the more popular streaming options as the platform provides audience members with the ability to see each other, interact, and communicate. Earlier this month, Side Door launched a fully secure and gated ticket for its Zoom shows.

A seemingly fully transparent, artist-friendly service, Side Door even offers a comparison guide of features and pricing against a wide range of other platforms that include Facebook Live, Bandzoogle, YouTube and Twitch.

Among the many artist testimonials for this made-in-Canada option comes this unsolicited endorsement from roots singer-songwriter Shari Ulrich:

“The first live-stream I watched was Dan Mangan on Side Door. After weeks of isolation, it was so revelatory that there was an audience - and I could see them!  There they were, cuddled with kids and dogs, lounging on their sofas. We were all ‘in a room’ together sharing a common experience with an artist we all love - just like what happens at a live concert! I actually teared up!  And when I played my own show, to see my audience, talk to them, and spend that time together was glorious. Let’s not underestimate how weird it is for a performing artist to have crickets when they finish a song.  It’s unnerving, unnatural and is missing the whole other half of the equation of the joy of performing music. So, anything that can allow for that response from the people you’re playing for is a great asset!  Plus, I really admire Dan and Side Door’s principles and like the idea of supporting their efforts.”

From Sarah Slean: “A rare and wonderful experience of community and connection… A way to reach people who you would never be able to reach through touring… inclusive, authentic and beautiful…”

And Danny Michel: I was completely unprepared for what a joyful experience that would be. Wow! Thank you from the bottom of my heart to almost 700 people who tuned in from all over the world for my show today. Dancing, playing along with me, laughing, holding up signs, chatting, sharing and being together. I would have never believed this could have felt so cool. Usually, on stage, I stare into the darkness. But here, I see everyone up close, and a glimpse into their lives. It was very moving.”

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