Live Nation Eyes Virtual Reality Concerts for Your Living Room
If you’ve ever wished that a major musical act would schedule a tour stop close to where you live (but never does) well your luck is about to change. In an effort to reach consumers who have never been to a concert in person, Live Nation Entertainment, the world’s largest concert promoter, is racing to provide video and virtual reality programming featuring artists it promotes.
Live Nation handles performances for 3,300 artists, from Bruce Springsteen to Black Sabbath. This summer the company is hosting some of the industry’s highest-profile tours, including those by Beyoncé, Drake and Guns N’ Roses, as well as popular outdoor festivals such as Bonnaroo and the U.K.’s legendary Glastonbury Festival.
More than 70 million people attend Live Nation musical productions each year and the company sells many of them tickets via Ticketmaster, which it also owns.
The company has hired MTV alum Heather Parry to build a TV-and-film production studio and has announced plans to produce programs with Vice Media, Hulu, and virtual-reality company NextVR, reports Bloomberg. By letting fans experience the concert vibe at home or on the go, Live Nation hopes to draw more advertising revenue, which already brings it more profits than the low-margin concert promotion business. The company also hopes exposing TV and online viewers to videos of its acts will bolster ticket sales for future live concerts.
Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino said the company’s advantage is simple: access. “We have these magical two hours happening, and we have access to the environment, whether on stage or backstage interviews,” he said. “We’ve been on a quest to take those two hours-plus and start bringing those to life online, on TV, and any screen we can monetize.”
Live Nation will produce its first TV show, Earth Works, with Vice’s new cable channel, Viceland. On the show, set to premiere this fall, musicians travel to imperiled ecosystems to highlight certain threats through song.
Earth Works grew out of Live Nation TV, a joint venture Live Nation and Vice created in 2014 to produce short-form series and documentaries from music events. “We’ve built a media company in a year, and now is the big moment with our sales forces combined to sell those to the biggest brands in the world,” said Hosi Simon, the vice executive who helps run Live Nation TV.
Besides licensing the joint venture’s material to Hulu, Live Nation will also make a few virtual reality concerts with the streaming service, the companies announced Wednesday. NextVR, which streams sporting events and concerts in virtual reality, recently struck a deal with Live Nation to produce long-form live concerts for the next five years.
Live Nation wants these new revenue streams to bolster its profits. While the company generated almost $5 billion in sales from concert promotion last year, that business lost $105 million. Its advertising and sponsorship unit, with sales of just $333 million, was its most profitable division. Live Nation already has a team selling sponsorships of concerts and its various Web properties, so it says that peddling ads to go with its videos is a natural next step.
Onward and Upward,
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