Artists and marketers want to accomplish two things in today’s digital media world— engage fans and tap new revenue streams. Enter Lively LLC, a Seattle-based startup that “connects fans to their favorite artists by providing high-quality audio and video recordings of live performances.” Nashville’s own SESAC COO Pat Collins, joins Mike Slade, Nick Hanauer and Pete Higgins of Second Avenue Partners and others in the company’s just announced $500k seed round financing.
“Lively gives artists a way to create, own, and merchandise their content,” says Collins. “It’s a service that meets the needs of artists and audiences alike and will generate additional sales and grow their fan base.”
Digital marketers are always looking for new carrots to dangle in front of fans and potential fans to entice them to further engage with the artist brand. Contests, free music/tickets, targeted social media advertising, video and photo images and similar content have become toolbox staples. Lively places a new tool in the box by offering an immediate way to engage fans and harvest a revenue stream at the same time. Over time the service might evolve to include endorsements, other ad opportunities and even allow artists to set their own pricing.
So how does it work?
To get started, fans need to download the free Lively app (IOS or Android). High-quality audio recordings are available immediately after the show and can be downloaded for a fee of $4.99. For $9.99 fans can get the immediate audio version and then about 24 hours later an edited video with the audio file. According to Lively, the app stores will claim about 30% of the download cost. The artist gets 70% of the remaining revenue and 30% goes to Lively. A typical breakdown means that for a $4.99 download the app store gets $1.50, the artist gets $2.44 and Lively gets $1.05. Artists however, may have to share their profits with publishers/writers and according to a recent Businessweek article, and in some cases “venues may also ask for a cut.” The business model makes the service especially attractive for self-contained artists that control all publishing copyrights. The publication reports that since the app’s May debut it has been downloaded over 4,000 times.
An added perk for concert goers is access. The app tracks mobile phone locations via GPS and makes the download available first to fans that were actually at the show. Later however, consumers can post the link to the track on social media and tell their friends to purchase it and it becomes available to everyone inside the Lively app.
“During the encore, when your ears are ringing and you’re feeling good, we push you an offer through the app,” Lively Founder and CEO Dean Graziano told Businessweek. “Your phone lights up and says, ‘Hey, are you enjoying the … show? Would you like to buy the audio for $4.99, or the audio and video for $9.99?’ If they click ‘Yes,’ the audio gets downloaded onto their phones directly after the show. Video becomes available within 24 hours, once Lively’s videographers have edited the concert footage.”
So how does the music and video make its way to the app store so effortlessly and quickly?
The audio feed is taken directly from the band’s concert soundboard using an Apogee Duet audio interface and Lively’s Audio Manager software. The program runs using an iPad or mac laptop and the music is uploaded to Lively’s servers. The Audio Manager allows song names to be added and the opportunity to exclude certain tracks if desired because of copyright or quality issues. Artists also get access to an analytics section to better target and improve their marketing and sales efforts. The video upload would require additional video cameras and gear, but exact details on that process were not available.
According to Marketwire, A sold-out May 4, 2013 Seattle show featuring The Lonely Forest was Lively’s first proof of concept event. Of the 500 concert-goers, about 350 had smartphones and the app was downloaded 228 times. A total of 33 in app content packages were purchased giving a 15% conversion rate.
The Road Ahead?
Armed with its newly minted $500k, Lively’s plans are to expand staffing, grow its physical space and create a performance space to host live recordings sessions for its artists.
The audio offering has been implemented in a way that allows acts to participate with a minimal equipment investment. The video component however, is more expensive to shoot, edit and amortize against sales. Regardless, most any act could effortlessly jump on board as an audio client and upgrade later as audience size, sales and marketing data dictate.
As might be expected there are other entities competing for attention in the live music space such as Evntlive and ConcertWindow, each with its own added features such as live chat. However they connect artist and fans via live streaming which makes their experience dependent upon having quality bandwidth.
The live event space is likely to become a hotly contested land grab. Ownership will depend upon features, ease of use and revenues. There is also the ongoing possibility that a larger entity like Facebook or Google might purchase one of the live concert online frontrunners and supersize them across the goal line.
Concert promoters love to say, “You can’t download a live experience.” But with Lively, maybe you can…