Driift COO Claire Mas on the Revenue Potential of Livestreams, Using Them To Promote Your Tour, and more
Events Blog
February 15, 2023

Driift COO Claire Mas on the Revenue Potential of Livestreams, Using Them To Promote Your Tour, and more

Not all livestreams are created equal.

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Ticket Sales
Rod Yates
Rod Yates
Marketing Manager, Content
Audience Republic
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Not all livestreams are created equal.

There are, for example, the low-budget efforts filmed on a phone in a bedroom with average sound and intermittent internet. At the other end of the scale are the livestreams that British company Driift create – imaginative, sumptuously-filmed 10-camera affairs capturing artists in historic venues such as London’s Alexandra Palace (Nick Cave), the National History Museum in London (Dermot Kennedy) and Worthy Farm, the site of Driift’s mammoth five-hour stream of the 2021 Glastonbury Festival, sans punters.

Having received both BAFTA and Royal Television Society awards for their productions, and sold nearly one million tickets across 190 countries, the quality of Driift’s livestreams – not to mention the potential revenue and community-building benefits for artists – ensures that when done correctly, the format has a future that extends beyond being a relic of COVID-era lockdowns.

Here, COO Claire Mas discusses the unique revenue possibilities of livestreaming, the most effective ways of marketing them, the importance of word of mouth to selling tickets, how livestreaming can become part of artists’ release and touring strategies, and much more…

Biffy Clyro

What are the most effective marketing materials to promote a livestream?

The most important thing to convey is the quality of the production. If you can you shoot your own marketing assets from scratch, which are hopefully in the venue you're gonna [use for the livestream], make those look beautiful, because they have to reflect the amount of investment you're going to do in the show.

Shoot it on beautiful cameras and people go, ‘Okay, that looks sick, this is gonna be sick.’ We're saying, ‘Don't worry about it, we put loads of money in it and it’s really creative’. That's basically what you’re trying to say in your marketing assets.

We don't overly brand our shows, we want it to feel like it's the artist direct to the fans. We're just facilitating it.

"The most important thing to convey is the quality of the production."

Once you've got those marketing assets, which channels work best for you in terms of promoting them?

I've been saying this since I've been in digital, which is hilarious because I feel like a grandma, for 10 years being like, ‘Emails! Guys! Mailing lists, can you just stop ignoring them?!’ [Laughs]

Obviously all social media is super important. Everyone's very focused on TikTok at the moment, but I'm still like, if you want to sell a ticket – I'm just [talking] about selling, not about impressions and growing influence – please just get your mailing list sorted. People who have big mailing lists, that's always a massive positive.

One of the first questions I ask people when we're doing a forecast to see how many tickets we can sell is, ‘How big is your mailing list?’ That's super important.

"Mailing lists, can you just stop ignoring them?!"

But then we also work with wonderful, collaborative, positive promoters and agents to do email blasts to past ticket buyers. So we try to hit all mailing lists that we could possibly find. But the artist mailing list is always a massive win.

And then of course, socials. But we work with such varied artists – our biggest shows have been Little Mix and Niall Horan, and then Andrea Bocelli on the other side of the demographic. So with Andrea, we had massive wins on Facebook; with the younger artists or younger fanbase of artists, it's more leaning to the TikToks and the Instagrams.

In terms of an advertising platform, still Facebook, Instagram. And Google, we still have quite a lot of success there. And then it's just about where the artist is big. We're actually amplifying the channels of the artists. So it depends on where they've invested in.

Does word of mouth play into your plans at all?

Yeah, actually it is quite a big part. We run loads of fan-driven competitions, because it is an artist’s show. So maybe you get to win a fan Q&A, it might be a competition to actually get to go to the show, all of these things. Because it's driven by the artist, it doesn't feel as cringy. So it's very much the artist engaging with the fans.

And then the other thing we find is, we go live in whatever timezone it is, but then we've got three re-broadcasts around the world, so everyone can watch it at a convenient time, wherever they are. And then we often have a 48-hour or 72-hour of VOD.

And we find that the chatter around the show, both in the chat on the livestream but also in socials, becomes a huge driver of ticket sales. So, we sell loads and loads and loads of tickets right into the show, right after the show, because the fans are freaking out about how good it is. And so that will spread, and then we can sell tickets right until two days after the show and people can still watch it. So that definitely helps a lot.

"We find that the chatter around the show, both in the chat on the livestream but also in socials, becomes a huge driver of ticket sales."

With the Little Mix show it was the last ever show they did. I think word of mouth probably added – quantifying it is hard – but I'd say probably 50-60% on top of the sales, because fans were all wanting to enjoy that moment together.

And again, because we've invested in the quality, that's the moment of truth. Our average watch time is 55 minutes on a one-hour show. That's unheard of in the digital space.

That chatter you mentioned – how can artists use these livestreams to actively help build community?

Well, first of all, we give all the data back to the artists. Artists sell shitloads of tickets, but also merch and bundles, album bundles, VIP experiences, whatever it is. So if the fan ticked [the permission box], we pass all that data back.

Then in terms of how the artist can use it… the chat can be on from the minute you launch the livestream, or you launch the announcement, up until the livestream. So normally, it's a three-week campaign. And so you could actually have three weeks of dropping bombs or golden things into the chat, and building up to the campaign and dropping clues or building it in. Or you can do it on socials. We're not precious, we'll do it wherever you want to do it.

But there is a massive community build up. So yeah, there's absolutely no reason why you couldn't make long use of it. Absolutely. 

Damon Albarn (image: Anna Barclay)

Are you seeing artists starting to use livestreams as part of their album or tour campaigns?

Yeah, totally. A really good example of this was The Smile. We have launched them actually twice.

The day that we did the Glastonbury stream, that was the first time they ever were announced as a band and played. And then the second time we did a livestream with them was in January [2022], and they just had one single out. And we announced the livestream, and I think by the time they played they had two singles out.

This was a custom-built show. We built the stage for them, 1200 people in the room, and they played three times to a full live audience: 8pm, 1am, 11am the next day. And people freaked out, because it was the first time you could hear the album, the album wasn't out for another two months.

And so it was a preview of everything, actually, it's how they launched the campaign – the livestream was the debut of the music, the fans all experienced the music together being played live, both in person and online. And by the way, the VOD views of that were insane. Everyone who bought a ticket watched the show three times.

And then all the promoters, who were super collaborative and amazing, we got them tickets to promote the show to everyone they wanted. And then all the content from the livestream, and all the reviews, were then used to announce and sell out a show or tours off the back of that. So it was really the preview for everything.

And it was a really powerful preview because the show was reviewed so well that they could then use all the amazing assets that they had.

"The VOD views of that were insane. Everyone who bought a ticket watched the show three times."

Does the data you get from livestreams offer any unique insight into fan behavior?

In the way that you get international data, yeah, because obviously you don't get to tour the whole world. So you're going to be picking up a lot of fans that you never get to talk to.

And we find that in the advertising as well, we’re bidding globally – no one bids globally. If you’re a promoter you're bidding locally, maybe nationally. I pick up people in my advertising that have never really been activated before. So I'm actually finding a lot of lost fans, is how I call it. And so that's the kind of data that I can convert and bring back to the fan bases. So I think that's an interesting element that other people are not really using.

Kylie Minogue

In the past you’ve spoken about the potential for livestreams to convert casual fans into superfans. How does that work?

I think it's about the 55-minute average watch time.

When you love an artist, you'll love them forever. But it drifts the less interactions you have with them, the less albums you feel that connect to you, the less gigs you've gone to. And so when you get to have 55 minutes of both watching and listening to something you love and a performance that's iconic with a really high production, it's going to remind you how much you love the artist.

And what we find in the chat is, everyone's talking about how much they love them, how this has reminded them of how much they love them, or they've watched the show already and they just watched it again because they loved it so much, or telling all the fans, ‘Make sure you buy tickets for when they go on tour.’ They're basically acting like a promoter in the chat being like, ‘See how great they are, have you guys all got your tickets?’

So it's just the aspect of a super engaged watch time and a super engaged community all talking about it. It's hard not to feel more enthusiastic about a band when everyone's talking about how great they are.

Coldplay (image: Anna Barclay)

How does the landscape for livestreaming look in the next 12 to 24 months?

Well, we're hoping obviously that it's positive! The fan demand is not the problem. Getting the artists’ and the managers’ attention is the problem, and I totally understand – they had two years of hell, and they're so focused on touring.

So what we're dealing with is a really exhausted music industry who doesn't actually have the capacity to think about doing something extra that they've not done before. Which is fine, we’re still having wins.

And if anything, for these people struggling to make money on tour, this is just adding cash. We take all the risk, we pay for everything. You’re either not going to make money or make money, there's no negative. It’s only going to be a positive effect to your tour.

So I actually expect it to just get better from here. Because the more case studies we can show about [what] we can add to your album campaign or tour, it's only a positive effect.

"We sold 85,000 tickets to a Little Mix show – 85,000 tickets!"

I was slightly worried, if I'm honest. I was like, how is it going to be when people aren't locked inside? And we sold 85,000 tickets to a Little Mix show – 85,000 tickets! The capacity of the venue is 20,000 tickets, we sold 85,000 tickets, and three people were watching per ticket at home, we could see on the tweets.

There is an audience who want this to stay if you do it right. Make them worth the fans’ time. Make sure the sound is great. And if you do it properly, it's an amazing tool.

5 Seconds of Summer

That’s an impressive statistic around Little Mix – if you were to sum it up, what do you think the revenue potential of livestreams is for artists?

The only difference is that we're selling tickets at a fraction of [the price] – let's say we sell five times whatever the capacity of the venue is, you're not doing five times the revenue. We’re selling a ticket at 10, 15, 20 pounds. And the tickets in the venue are much, much more expensive.

But if you're doing it properly, you can make a couple of million or more on revenue, because you're selling a huge amount of tickets, and there's no limit. So as much as you lean into it and as much marketing as you can have, there really is no limit.

We sell anything between 1000 or 2000 livestream tickets when it’s a small band, to 120-125,000 tickets for more engaged fan bases. And then the other thing is, 30 to 40% of merch sales on top of that. So you're making more money on that as well, which is a great revenue driver for everyone. It's just about how much the artist is willing to get behind the campaign and go for it.

If any artists or managers who [are reading this] are like, I wonder how much my artists could sell, we have a good model that can actually estimate how many tickets we think the artist can sell. Of course it's a forecast, but we have a pretty good estimate.

Visit Driift here, and follow on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.


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Driift COO Claire Mas on the Revenue Potential of Livestreams, Using Them To Promote Your Tour, and more

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