The 411 On Livestreaming Platforms
Guest Feature: Adam St. Simons
Adam St. Simons is the founder of both PREAMP Publicity and Syndicate SLC; the later being a popular Burner-centric monthly celebration of creative culture hosted at Soundwell SLC. Working with a number of different clients across various segments of the music industry, his primary role is currently as Public Relations & Media Director for Live Nite Events – best know for their Reggae Rise Up Music Festival brand with properties in Florida, Utah, and Las Vegas. Adam has a penchant for forward-thinking creative projects, multidisciplinary and intentionally-curated experience design, along with non-traditional event production.
In the aftermath of COVID the entire live music industry turned its attention to the world of live streaming. While it seems that most artists have opted for free live stream events on major platforms such as Facebook, YouTube, and Twitch, asking for donations from their fans or directing them to other opportunities to support, such as purchasing merchandise, a number of new platforms have sprung up as developers have sought to meet the growing demand of event producers seeking paywall solutions for online events. Here’s a quick look at some of the available options, including both those new to the landscape along with platforms that pre-existed the upheaval of the industry.
Vimeo OTT - https://vimeo.com/ott/home
If you have enough content to justify the development of an OTT (over-the-top) subscription channel then Vimeo OTT is without question the most complete professional solution. Vimeo OTT offers their clients a complete branded website and app suite build-out that provides distribution through iOS, Android, Roku, Amazon Fire, Apple TV, and more. Vimeo boasts over 2,000 partner channels and the best analytics in the industry. That said, this type of service and distribution doesn’t come cheap. While the incredibly helpful people at Vimeo expressed that they cannot confirm any pricing information for a public-facing article, when discussing solutions on a sales call I was provided quotes that ranged from $1,000 to $4,000 per month depending on how many platforms the content would be available on along with a $1 per subscriber monthly fee for subscription channels. Vimeo OTT also offers a setup strictly for PPV Live Streaming for which the company charges 10% of the ticket gross plus $0.50 per ticket (this is on top of the $1,000 monthly service plan). While pricey, if you’re an established brand, have the content, and plan on being in the OTT/live streaming space, Vimeo OTT is definitely a solution worth looking into.
Tixr Play - https://play.tixr.com/
Tixr is an event ticketing platform comparable to Eventbrite. As the industry began to shift to online events Tixr went all-in and developed Tixr Play as a solution for event producers. Using Vimeo Enterprise as the built-in software for the video streams, Tixr Play provides users with many of the same features as Vimeo OTT (such as a customized website/event page and extensive analytics) without the hefty price tag. The main difference between the two is that Tixr does not offer app suite development (although they do offer the ability to stream to Apple TV and Chromecast, and have future plans to roll out dedicated apps) and boasts “rapid deployment” as their interface is essentially a white-label website builder, allowing users to create their event pages themselves. The platform also offers built-in features that provide for “one-to-many”, “few-to-many”, and “one-to-one” event formats (similar to Crowdcast). If you have additional VOD content that your audiences may be interested in, Tixr Play provides the ability to bundle or offer it separately. Because Tirx Play started as a ticketing platform they offer superior sales functionality with comprehensive ticketing, tracking, promotions, and yield management tools. Tixr currently charges a flat 10% on all ticket sales and a 1% payment processing pass-through fee via Stripe (although I was told that may be changing soon). If you don’t have enough content to justify the development of an OTT channel, Tixr Play is likely your best all-around solution and, in my opinion, is the most comprehensive platform available in the market.
Crowdcast - https://www.crowdcast.io/
Most frequently compared to the well-known webinar platform Zoom, Crowdcast provides all of the same functionalities but places a greater emphasis on community engagement. Crowdcast also took some of the most common complaints of their competitor’s platform and developed solutions to better control when the “mic” is passed between event participants and offers multiple sessions under a single event, making conference or festival-style events that have multiple streams going on simultaneously much easier to navigate. The platform is also set up for studio-quality audio, easy replay time-stamping, landing pages with built-in ticketing, automatic recording, streaming to multiple locations (such as Facebook, YouTube, and more), and additional advanced integrations (such as Drip, Patreon, Mailchimp and more). Crowdcast charges monthly subscription fees based on the number of expected attendees and hours of streaming which range from $29-$195 per month. On top of that there is a 2-5% per ticket charge depending on the subscription level purchased.
Viewcy - https://www.viewcy.com/
Branded as a collaborative platform “for artists, by artists”, Viewcy is a newer startup that was founded by a number of artists from Brooklyn to serve their local creative scene. Previously a ticketing platform, Viewcy offers a lot of the basics with a lean toward community engagement similar to Crowdcast through user-functionality designed to inspire fan interaction. While Viewcy is still much smaller than many of its competitors in the landscape, they have developed an appealing sponsorship-integration model that matches event producers and sponsors, with the sponsors being able to set a max sponsorship amount and only paying out against the total number of viewers. Charging only 1% + $0.69 per attendee, Viewcy is one of the least expensive platforms in the space.
StageIt - https://www.stageit.com/
Established in 2009, StageIt is an artist-focused live streaming platform that believes in driving demand through limited-capacity, one-time-only events. As an established destination for music fans, the platform boasts over $5M in payouts to artists since March with over 750,000 registered users. Designed to simplify the production load for artists with personalized tech support, StageIt has no upfront fees and pays artists 80% of all ticket and tip revenues with a gamified tipping model comparable to Twitch (claiming that 50% of gross revenues are generated by this feature and that, on average, viewers each spend $14 per performance). All payment processing fees are included in the ticket price and come out of StageIt’s 20% cut. If you’re an artist looking for a plug-and-play solution, StageIt has you covered.
PromoStream (from PromoTix) - https://www.promotixapp.com/promostream
Lastly, PromoStream is the newest addition to the PromoTix family of promoter apps. Advertised as the only live streaming platform with no ticket fees, PromoStream factors their costs based on data plans. Stream producers can find self-service plans on the company’s website for events up to two hours in length and 5,000 attendees, with anything more requiring a customized plan. For streams at 720P, the cost is $0.99 cents per seat; for streams at 1080P, $1.39 cents per seat. While the company has built up it’s brand around it’s ticketing solution, their marketing app, PromoJuice, was the first of their suite of apps and offers clients a wide array of marketing tools. Between the promotional capabilities of PromoJuice and the ticketing functionality of PromoTix, PromoStream is becoming a strong contender in the market.
When deciding which platform to choose for your ticketed livestream event, note that all of these platforms provide paywall protection such as device fingerprinting, can handle (host and manage) multiple ticket types, and are set up to work with professional live streaming software such as OBS and Wirecast. Also, all of the platforms with the exception of StageIt are integrated with Stripe for easy payment processing at 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction.