Spotify enters the virtual concert business, starts selling $15 tickets to events

Spotify is entering the virtual concert business, just as in-person concerts are becoming more of a possibility. The company announced today that people can now buy tickets to five different concert streams, which will air throughout May and June. Initial artists include The Black Keys, Jack Antonoff of Bleachers, and Leon Bridges. The streams all are prerecorded but can only be viewed at a given time through the web browser. The shows aren’t available on demand, and they aren’t accessible through the Spotify app.

Tickets cost $15, and viewers must have a Spotify account to watch the show. (Viewers can set up a free Spotify account during the ticket-buying process if they don’t already have one.) You can check out the FAQ page for more details, but notably, tickets are tied to individual users’ accounts, so they’re non-transferable, and if you end up missing the show, you can’t get a refund. (Spotify says each artist’s recording will air at four different times to account for the world’s various timezones, so buyers have to select their preferred time.)

Spotify previously participated in the concert ecosystem by allowing artists to list shows through its app and link out to ones from specific partners, like Eventbrite. In 2017, the company said it generated more than $40 million in ticket sales through its Fans First program, which gives fans extra perks, like early access to tickets. It also hosted its own in-person events tied to its playlist branding, including Rap Caviar and Viva Latino.

During the pandemic, the company started listing virtual concerts, too. Fifteen dollars for these prerecorded concerts feels a bit steep, especially because it isn’t much different than live sets you can likely find from late-night shows or other specials for free on YouTube or Instagram Live, but it seems like Spotify is trying to find a new revenue stream and way to keep fans engaged during a time when most have been disconnected from the idea of live music. It’s unclear if the company intends to keep up the virtual concert series. For now, these five shows are all the commitment we’ve seen.

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