Amazon is leveraging its investment in live-streaming site Twitch to expand its Amazon Music service. The company announced this morning Twitch’s live streams will now be available in the Amazon Music app on iOS and Android, with the goal of allowing fans and artists to connect amid a pandemic where in-person concerts have been canceled.
Since the COVID-19 health crisis has shut down live events, online platforms have stepped in to fill the void. Artists are connecting with and streaming to fans through social media and streaming platforms like Twitch, TikTok, Facebook and Instagram Live, and others.
Twitch, in particular, has increasingly catered to musicians and other creatives during the pandemic. The company earlier this year held a benefit in partnership with Amazon Music, called Stream Aid, which featured artists like Diplo, Barry Gibb, Ryan Tedder, Lauv, Charlie Puth, Die Antwoord and others. Twitch has hosted a flood of other artists’ live streams in the months since. According to a report by StreamElements, Twitch grew 56% in hours watched in Q2 2020 compared with Q1, passing the 5 billion mark, due to the increase in online entertainment.
By July 2020, the “Music & Performing Arts” category on Twitch had grown 387% year-over-year to 17.6 million hours watched. Twitch has also signed an exclusive streaming contract with the multi-platinum artist Logic. Linkin Park’s Mike Shinoda created his three-part album series called “Dropped Frames” entirely on Twitch, in collaboration with his followers. Twitch has also signed exclusive partnerships with festivals, including Rolling Loud and Outside Lands.
Amazon is not alone in seeing potential in the live events market. Spotify is also developing a virtual events platform, expected to launch soon. And YouTube touts its concert footage and live performances as a reason to sign up for its YouTube Music Premium service.
With the Amazon Music partnership now live, fans will be able to begin interacting with artists across genres who are planning on live streaming to Twitch in the coming days. Some of these streams will be live music while others will be music-related content, like artist interviews or variety shows.
Upcoming live streams include:
- The Killers’ Brandon Flowers and Ronnie Vannucci Jr., who will join Amazon Music September 4th at 1 PM ET to answer fan questions about their latest album, “Imploding the Mirage”
- Soul singer and storyteller Nicole Atkins will host a variety series Wednesdays at 7 PM ET with performances and interviews with friends and artists, including Elle King, Cut Worms and Whitney
- Amazon Music UK will stream the Heavy Music Awards 2020 live from the HMA’s London offices September 3, 2020 at 8:30 PM BST / 3:30 PM ET and feature performances from The Hunna, Holding Absence, Heart Of A Coward, Wargasm, Coldbones and HAWXX
- Capital One City Parks Foundation’s SummerStage Anywhere will stream exclusive digital performances (Tuesday’s at 7 PM EST) spanning Latin, World, Hip Hop, Jazz and more for its weekly concert series.
Artists interested in streaming to the Amazon Music app will have to join Twitch, then connect their Twitch channel through the “Profile & Tools” section in Amazon Music for Artists. Their live steams will then appear on their artist profile page in the Amazon Music app.
Through Twitch’s partnership with Bandsintown, artists have been able to fast-track to Twitch Affiliate status, giving them access to monetization tools for their live steams. Fans on Twitch can pay to subscribe to premium channels or leave virtual tips, as well. The new deal with Amazon Music will give artists the same access to fast-track their way to Twitch Affiliate status by connecting their Twitch channel in Amazon Music for Artists, as long as they have more than 5,000 fans.
Despite the monetization capabilities of today’s live-steaming platforms, they’re not a replacement for live events for most artists, given the average rate for virtual concert ticket sales. According to data from virtual concert platform StageIt, reported by Billboard, fans were paying just $3.75, on average, for a 30-minute live stream in 2011. This has now grown to $16.50. (There are exceptions, like BTS, which pulled in a record $20 million for their virtual show, but this is not the norm.) In most cases, platforms are helping musical artists weather the pandemic, but do not make up for all lost revenues.
“On average, there are more than 1.5 million people tuning in to Twitch at any given time,” an Amazon spokesperson said. “And now an artist’s live streams will be made available to Amazon Music’s 55 million customers — representing a unique opportunity to harness the social power of live streaming to create more engagement with an artist’s catalog. With this functionality, customers will also be able to move seamlessly between live streams and recorded music, providing music fans with a richer experience and the ability to easily explore artists’ recorded catalogs,” they added.
Updated 9/1/20, 12:55 PM ET with expanded details on Twitch’s music efforts.