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  • Siren Creative

Facebook will soon let you charge for live stream access - but should you?

Updated: May 1, 2020

Facebook announces changes off the back of lockdown living online.

And among Zuckerberg's updates was the promise that artists will be able create online only events, and charge entry for fans to attend via Facebook Live. Huge numbers of artists have already quantities of free live streamed content since lockdown began, finding new ways to stay connected with their audiences.

So how do you pivot from free content to ticketed events? And more importantly, how do you ask your audience to pay for something they might be used to getting for free?

The details and commission rates have yet to be announced, but paid access to digital events can be approached in exactly the same way as the rest of your artist activities. Revenue streams from live shows and appearances fluctuate according to value - how much is your time worth, your artistry, your overheads? How valuable is your audience?

With that in mind, the answer might be as simple as you already have an engaged audience who set a decent value on watching you live. But if it's not that simple, it's time to get a bit creative...

Think about what you can offer that is of value. Live stream doesn't have to translate to a live show, can you offer tutorials or workshops? Are your audience interested in learning your songs, in seeing how you record or learning to build a guitar pedal? Broader skills are also great for attracting new audiences and building connections as well.

Promoters, labels and artists have also used digital platforms to present festivals or multi-act line up events over the last few weeks. Joining up with other artists is another great way to increase the value of what you're offering, and to reach new audiences.

If you've already hosted a few free live streams, it could be time to end the free trial. However this approach will only work if you've seen increased engagement over time. If your debut broadcast had great attendance but the third one was just you and your mum... you're looking at a tough sell.

Which brings us to the final thinking point - should you actually be charging for live streaming? There's an argument to say that your time and your art is always inherently valuable. Unfortunately that doesn't mean audiences will agree. We're navigating an exceptional situation right now where emotions are running very high around money, necessity and morality.

Back in 2019, it cost upwards of £75 to see Ed Sheeran live. Even without the arena overheads and production value, there are plenty of people who would pay good money to see a digital live show from Sheeran. However we've already seen enormous backlash against celebrities and corporations looking for support during this period. The global mood is very much about how we help those who need it most, so then does Kanye really need to charge you for a live stream show right?

Probably not until this becomes the new normal at least. If charging for digital events just doesn't feel right for you as an artist, it might be time to put your energy into your recordings and merch.

And so just one last piece of advice for all live streaming musicians out there... remember to check your mics and your visuals before you go live. Please.


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