As the coronavirus continues to rampage across the world, the music industry is in the middle of its biggest shakeup since the arrival of Napster. According to IQ, a global news platform for live music, “The money generated by live music ticket sales and sponsorships has fallen 64% in 2020, with nearly US$18 billion having been wiped off the value of the international concert industry this year alone.”
It’s not all doom and gloom though. The pandemic has allowed digital platforms like Show4Me to rise as a viable alternative. We talked about the state of live music back in April, when the world was just getting used to the lockdown. Now seven months later, we have reopened, and gone back into lockdown. What does that mean for live music?
If you look at Show4Me, it’s clear that digital concerts are now here to stay. The company is not just thriving, but innovating. Since April, they have over 14,000 music professionals in more than 130 countries. Those are numbers you cannot ignore. It’s also an indication of the digital-first experience that music is taking. Artists are turning to platforms like Fortnite to become heard, but that comes with its own limitations. Mainly, it is for the more popular artists who have a global fan base.
That’s where Show4Me comes in, the company aims to democratise and popularise smaller artists who are not as popular.
Show4Me: A Modern Musician Experience
With streaming becoming the dominant mode of music distribution, smaller artists have had to bear the brunt. That’s because of the way the services are structured, given artists just a fraction of a dollar per stream. As Show4Me’s Chief Development Officer Yuriy Sylovanyuk told us back in May: “the current model is really unfair, because 95% of all the revenue generated is generated by just 5% of artists.” To solve that, the company built a revenue model that puts artists front and centre.
Fans can contribute towards the production cost of a show or album. Show4Me also has a system called ‘Aristclub’ where fans can subscribe to an artist for as little as $1 per year. That’s money straight into the musician’s pocket. If you love your music, you will be happy to know that your money goes straight to your favourite musicians. It’s essentially a crowdfunding platform for musicians.
That’s not all, the platform is also something of a mini-social network. You’d be forgiven for not remembering Apple Music Connect. The service allowed artists to interact with their fans right in the Apple Music app. Like its predecessor iTunes Ping, Apple Music was quickly shut down in 2018. Show4Me though seems to have cracked the code. Its Artistclubs feature creates a community environment, not unlike Apple Music Connect, but clearly one that’s more popular.
How then does Show4Me sustain its business? It has built a revenue model on profits, taking a cut only when an artist makes a profit of their show or album. That allows artists to keep 100% of the money they need to create their music.
Keeping Up With the Times
In today’s fast-paced world, innovation is the key to staying afloat. Show4Me isn’t the only company in the business, and it knows it. That’s why the team has been working hard on a slew of new features.
To help artists earn more, the company is allowing fans to ‘tip’ when subscribing to an Aristclub, over the $1 fee. Fans will also be able to comment and interact with artists during a show. The platform is also getting an update to make discovery easier.
The platform’s editorial team will now work through all uploaded tracks and albums to add the best ones to charts, making it easier and faster for fans to discover new music to listen to and find new artists to follow, as well as keep up to date with the freshest releases. It is very much like Spotify or Apple Music in that sense, but clearly the company is not looking at big names. Instead, it is focused on smaller bands and artists, who often struggle to get the recognition and funding they need on other platforms.
Like all good platforms, Show4Me is present on Android, iOS and the web. The simple design and emphasis on discoverability makes the app a pleasing experience, which is vital to stand out in a competitive market.
A Challenging Future
The Global Media Outlook 2020-2024 predicts live music will rebound in 2021, with worldwide revenues growing by 82.6%, to over $19bn, as concerts resume. However, this seems more like a dream than a reality. The challenges of inoculating a global population of over 7 billion are clear, and it is very unlikely we will be returning to stadiums and concert halls anytime soon.
Then there’s also the venues themselves to consider. While virtual concerts may keep artists afloat, music venues continue to bear the brunt of the crisis. Manchester’s beloved Gorilla and The Deaf Institute were shut down, before being bought and saved by the Tokyo Industries group. However, not everyone has been so lucky. Thousands of smaller pubs and venues all over the UK, and indeed the world have had to close for good without financial aid and events.
Does Show4Me’s success prove that live music is indeed dead? It’s hard to say. While some artists have dabbled with socially-distanced concerts, a majority are still performing virtual concerts. For now, it seems like Show4Me is in a growth market. Even if we do return to concert halls, Yuriy isn’t worried. He believes virtual concerts will co-exist along with physical ones. If live music is to go the same way as the cinema industry, he could be very wrong, but hopefully he isn’t.