Smartphones can be great enablers, but they have their limits. “The second you record [a song] on your phone, there is a certain loss in quality that you have to expect.” This statement by Akhila Shankar, Brand and Communications Director for music streaming platform JioSaavn, is something that most musicians would attest to. Over the past few months, phone recordings, video calls, livestreams, and numerous other alternatives have been brought in to compensate for the lack of studio spaces and live performance venues during months of lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic. That said, musicians, both independent and industry-supported, have had more than enough time to gauge its shortcomings and zero in on potential improvement.
Dolby — unsurprisingly — noticed that live online music is here to stay, and will probably be growing as a trend over the next few years. As Ashim Mathur, Senior Regional Director – Marketing for Emerging Markets, points out, “People want to be able to create music without hassle.” MetroPlus has already explored the potential of Dolby On for its claims to offer user-friendly audio processing options, white noise reduction and a number of other features to help create music that is more gig-ready. But now, iOS users can leverage this app for online gigs, through the Dolby On Twitch feature that lets them stream live to Twitch. According to Twitch Tracker, May 2020 saw more than 23,00,000 average concurrent viewers and June 2020 is seeing a rise in these numbers.
For those who do not use iOS devices, JioSaavn — which has more than 100 million monthly active users with audiences across 150 countries — stepped in to boost the viewership.
Now, says Akhila, “When you use Dolby, it gets streamed directly to Facebook.” They highlighted this through the JioSaavn live anywhere concert, organised with Dolby On throughout the month of April. The concert series had featured a number of indie musicians performing through the app, live-streamed to JioSaavn’s Facebook page. With all livestreams on the app, states Akhila, “One hundred per cent of the revenue goes directly to the artiste.”
Artistry in mind
One of the artistes who was part of the concert is singer-songwriter Nikhita Gandhi, who goes on record to vouch for the experience. More than just being user-friendly, says Nikhita, the setup offers a much-needed revenue option. “Live gigs are the primary income source for most independent musicians,” she explains over video call, “It is good to have this alternative.” She also highlights what, to her, was an unexpected, reassuring feature.
“They have a rehearse feature that lets you check the sound and other things before going live,” she states, adding, “Of course, there are still things that cannot be controlled, like the Internet connection at the user’s end and any lags or sound issues that might happen because of that. But at the artiste’s end, it helps to have quality.”
Having done a string of online live shows throughout the lockdown, Nikhita feels that streaming performances, the way people stream songs, could be an option. “Because we have been doing so many lives, and because artistes are so approachable now, the intimacy of a concert is diluted. Audiences are able to see artistes live anyway, through these various activities that we keep doing online,” she points out, adding as a suggestion, “Songs make revenue through streams: the more people listen, the more money it makes. Maybe a similar module could be thought out for performances as well. Because if the audience can see their artistes doing their thing online for free, it reduces the chances of them wanting to pay to see the artiste, in an almost-similar setting.”
After all, the real-time audience is not the only audience. When asked about viewership numbers for the concert, Akhila states, “We saw live views go from 200 to 250 people to about 450. But a lot of people watch a live stream after it is actually done, so in that sense we have seen about 6,000 to 7,000 views for each of our videos.” Are these numbers worth tapping into for revenue? That is food for thought.
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