Concert promotion giant Live Nation has bought a majority stake in livestreaming platform Veeps, the company announced Tuesday. Live Nation, which has endured 10 months and counting without regular concerts or tours due to the Covid-19 pandemic, will now be directly positioned in the fast-growing livestreaming space.
For Live Nation, acquiring Veeps gives the promoter a new revenue stream; the concert company has struggled with dramatic revenue drops of 98% and 95% in the past two quarters as shows remain on pause. And there’s clear merit in the deal for Veeps too: As the livestreaming market gets saturated with dozens of companies, several of which launched during the pandemic, Veeps will receive the competitive technological and marketing resources of a much larger company in Live Nation, along with its major artist ties.
Neither Live Nation nor Veeps disclosed how much Live Nation paid or what percentage of the company it now owns.
“The idea of working together through this partnership was already kind of a natural and organic thing that was always happening. We’ve worked so closely and over the last decade or so with Live Nation in so many different ways,” Veeps co-founder Joel Madden, also a founding member of pop punk band Good Charlotte, tells Rolling Stone. “Live Nation is genuinely interested in exploring how they approach livestreaming. And I think that they were open to a lot of things.”
Joel Madden founded Veeps in 2017 with twin brother and fellow Good Charlotte member Benji Madden — as well as co-founders Sherry Saeedi and Kyle Heller — as a service for VIP experiences at artists’ shows, with a livestreaming offering on the side. Since then, the company has doubled down on its livestream business and had a notable 2020, airing about 1,000 livestreams with ticket sales revenue exceeding $10 million, according to the company. Last year, Veeps aired shows for the likes of Brandi Carlile, Liam Payne, Louis Tomlinson and Patti Smith among many others.
“Livestreaming is going to become a solid evergreen line in artists’ businesses, so we believe that every artist is going to have to decide what that is for them, what their livestreaming business is,” Madden says.
He adds: “The part we’re excited about is helping artists develop that aspect of their business. That will exist in and around when live shows come back. Not every show, but definitely it is something that artists will be considering when they go out on tour. Which shows do they want to stream or what special VIP events do they want to stream? That’s all going to be creative conversations around artists’ touring businesses.”
Discussions for the acquisition started several months ago, Madden says. Without naming specific companies, Madden says Veeps had conversations with groups in venture capital and tech, but Live Nation was the most natural fit given its music background. While Live Nation owns a majority of the company, Madden says he expects the companies to approach the deal more like a joint venture, and that he and Benji will remain the most hands-on in running the company.
“The message has been that they want us to be us,” Madden says. “They love the message. They love what we stand for, they love our relationship with the artists in the space, I think, as they looked across the space — it’s a unique company and it truly is an artist-first company. Live Nation loves that and all the conversations we have are lead with that.”
Since the pandemic started, livestreaming has quickly changed its image from a once balked-at gimmick into a shining savior of the industry. Livestreaming will likely remain a crucial part of the live music experience in 2021 as much of the world remains in quarantine, with many estimates pointing to the fall to as late as early 2022 for a return to in-person shows.
Even when concerts come back,many agents and artists’ managers say that some form of livestreaming will likely stick as part of the live experience. With no limit on viewership, paid livestreams have the potential to be very lucrative, as shown through streams from BTS and Dua Lipa — but they are by no means a guaranteed success. Some virtual shows’ production costs have gotten very expensive, and as several booking agents have told Rolling Stone, maximizing sales and viewership for streams is still a work in progress, particularly as fans have been overloaded with content.
Before the Veeps deal, Live Nation had only lightly experimented with livestreams in the pandemic era. It paired up with Tidal to produce digital shows for Megan the Stallion and Lil Uzi Vert, and it hosted livestreams for artists like Scarypoolparty and AWOLNATION, who’d both played livestream gigs from the Live Nation-owned Wiltern in Los Angeles. But Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino had been touting livestreaming’s potential in recent months as a possible add-on for its shows in the years ahead, noting the company would likely be livestreaming much more shows this year.
“It’s a great compliment to the core business, there’s always going to be the Beyoncés, BTS’s, Billie Eilishes who can do the old school pay-per-view and can drive significant dollars,” Rapino said of livestreams during Live Nation’s quarterly conference call last November. “But generally this business is a compliment and promotion to the core concert. We think going into 2021 and 2022, we’ll be streaming a lot more of our concerts to fans that can’t show up to the event, or some that may want to stream on our app when they’re at the event because of some added value of digital backrooms or camera angles.”
In a statement regarding Live Nation’s acquisition on Tuesday, Rapino echoed those thoughts. “Looking to the future live streams will continue to unlock access for fans – whether they are tuning into a sold out show in their hometown, or watching their favorite artist play in a city halfway around the world,” Rapino said. “The most critical element of live streaming is the artist on stage, and with Live Nation’s unmatched inventory feeding into Veeps, together we will help fans enjoy more live music than ever before.”