Megan Thee Stallion is performing her first live virtual concert of quarantine this Saturday, August 29. But if fans want to party with the “hot girl,” they’ll have to pony up $15. Thanks to coronavirus, which made in-person performances a health hazard, ticketed virtual concerts have become the new normal. The concept of charging for livestreams also offers a lifeline to the devastated live music industry.
Meg isn’t the only major artist with a virtual concert this week: Lil Uzi Vert is performing live on Thursday, August 27. Tickets are similarly $15. And honestly, the price of entry seems worth it. It’s something different to watch on yet another Saturday night at home, rather than scrolling through Netflix for the zillionth time. And it’s still cheaper than renting Mulan.
Plus, selling tickets to virtual shows is a smart move for the beleaguered live music industry, which hasn’t been able to operate since March. Live Nation Entertainment reported a staggering 98% drop in revenue in its second quarter compared to the same quarter in 2019. The ticketing and concert promotion behemoth has experimented with concepts like drive-in concerts, but they can’t match the windfall of a traditional stadium show.
Ari Evans, CEO of video-streaming company Maestro, explained the sudden embrace of virtual concerts this way to Rolling Stone recently:
“The music industry has looked at livestreaming as mostly a marketing play, and maybe they’ve been afraid to see the reality of people being willing to open their wallets and pay for these kinds of events. Because COVID happened, it accelerated. The productions being made aren’t fundamentally different than before. The willingness to pay has always been there. Now, because of the dire nature of needing revenue, the labels and the artists are willing to try it out.”
Need more proof that livestreamed concerts are here to stay? K-Pop superstar group BTS performed a massively successful ticketed virtual show in June. The stream drew 756,600 viewers, who each paid $35 (or $26 for members of the BTS Army fandom), meaning the band raked in between $19 million and $26 million in ticket sales. Wowza. If Megan Thee Stallion can draw a fraction of that fandom on Saturday, things could be looking slightly up for Live Nation.