- The paid live music streaming startup DREAMSTAGE has delivered over 50 concerts with a dynamic range of artists since its creation at the start of the pandemic.
- Deezer, a Paris-based music streaming service, recently made a significant investment in DREAMSTAGE in a symbiotic deal that will fuel both companies' growth.
- Insider spoke to DREAMSTAGE co-founder and digital media veteran Thomas Hesse about the platform's potential for long-term success.
- See more stories on Insider's business page.
The coronavirus pandemic nearly eliminated the live music business. DREAMSTAGE, a ticketed live music streaming platform launched in the spring of 2020, has plans to reverse this fate and to even go as far as transforming the traditional live music business model for years to come.
The US-based startup has provided artists with a method of generating income during lockdowns, but it's also future-proofed for long after fans return to in-person gigs with the goal of offering simulcasting opportunities in addition to premium digital-only concerts.
The brainchild of former Sony Music executive Thomas Hesse, world renowned cellist Jan Vogler, and tech aficionado and CTO Scott Chasin, DREAMSTAGE has delivered over 50 high-definition concerts featuring musicians across multiple genres and levels of experience in the one year since its creation. Artists such as Polo G, Chief Keef, Grammy nominee D Smoke, and most recently Yo-Yo Ma have taken the virtual stage, with co-founder Jan Vogler himself kicking off the platform's classical lineup in its first livestream in August.
Now, the startup has caught the attention of the Paris-based music streaming service Deezer, which houses a catalog of 73 million tracks, including content from major record labels like Universal Music Group and Warner Music Group. Deezer will serve as a cornerstone investor in DREAMSTAGE, leveraging its global subscriber base and millions of monthly active users to provide DREAMSTAGE with significant funds to expand its operations and establish it as a leading new format for entertainment.
The strategic partnership will see both companies working together to merge recorded and live music in a streamlined experience, while operating independently with the ultimate goal of accelerating DREAMSTAGE's growth. Their mutually strong appreciation for musicians and genuine desire to support their craft solidified the deal.
"There's a lot of potential," Thomas Hesse, co-founder of DREAMSTAGE, told Insider. "It's come together in a great spirit of partnership, and we're both mindful and cognizant of the significant benefits of us working together."
The DREAMSTAGE and Deezer teams share the unified mission of growing within the currently exploding global recorded music and livestreaming markets. Both have a deep understanding of the intersection of technology and music, Hesse said, and a shared entrepreneurial and innovative mindset.
"We think that DREAMSTAGE is the service that really has cracked the live streamed music experience. The live streamed events they offer go beyond simple video streaming and feel personal, dynamic and fun," Deezer CEO Hans-Holger Albrecht wrote in an email to Insider. "Their goal is to make you feel like you're really in the room with the artist, making the experience dynamic and interactive."
Interactivity is key to DREAMSTAGE's product. Fans not only benefit from the personalized experience of watching live music streamed directly into their living rooms, but they also enjoy the capability of communicating with one another in real time using the platform's built-in chat function, which "is what truly separates this experience from watching a YouTube video on your own," Hesse said.
Artists benefit from the interactive equation, as well. "Even when live concerts start again, live streaming will become a natural addition to live shows," Albrecht wrote. "Artists will be able to connect to the fans in the room, but also to let fans who can't make it enjoy the concert live, online. The ability to connect to more people also opens up a number of new digital revenue streams for musicians."
Musicians and entertainers largely rely on live performances and touring as a means of financial survival. In the year before the pandemic, the US live music business reached nearly $8 billion in ticket sales, trailing slightly behind recorded music, which came in at $11 billion, as found in a report published by Music Watch. The live music streaming industry is expected to generate $6.4 billion by 2027, according to MIDiA Research.
Professionally livestreamed concerts allow musicians to reach a much larger audience, and through supplemental digital-only concerts that are executed and marketed compellingly, artists can collect additional revenue on Spotify and other music distribution services when live gigs aren't an option. It's a domino effect - digital-only concerts promote engagement with the artists, bouncing their songs back into the charts, and in turn stimulating the demand for live in-person events, Hesse said.
Through DREAMSTAGE's integrated platform, artists can sell tickets, merchandise, and VIP experiences, as well as raise donations for charities, with the company taking a platform fee that varies according to the individual deal. DREAMSTAGE offers performers the option of utilizing their in-house production crew and social media marketing team, but also leaves artists the ability to employ their own teams.
-Yo-Yo Ma (@YoYo_Ma) April 27, 2021
The venues are selected according to the artists' choice, and then cast into their virtual concert halls developed by a "world class team of engineers," according to a release. Some concerts are available via on-demand for a select period of time, although the offering of a permanent on-demand archive is contingent upon the clearing of rights, Hesse explained.
Performances can be viewed via the Apple TV app, "with the big screen being the medium of choice, accompanied by great sound and picture," Hesse said. The company plans on delivering mobile apps for iOS and Android in the near future, but in the meantime, performances and interactive features can be accessed on DREAMSTAGE's website on any device.
While the pandemic was the catalyst for DREAMSTAGE, the real appeal to DREAMSTAGE lies in its longevity. The co-creator of video hosting service Vevo and former Sony Music President of Global Digital Business, Hesse is no stranger to the recorded music industry and music video space. He spearheaded Sony Music's merger with BMG and was responsible for driving the transformation of recorded music to streaming. It also helps that Hesse is a trained concert pianist, having studied at major concert halls in Austria and Germany.
"DREAMSTAGE, in a way, creates a new format that's a hybrid between a music video and a live performance," Hesse said. He calls this the "Live Music Video," which he hopes will one day compete with Netflix as its own form of appointment TV.
"We're not really competing with people going to the concert a few times a year, which they will do," Hesse said. "That's a big thing; you have to get tickets which are more expensive than an online ticket, you need to get a babysitter, get the car out, drive to the venue, park the car - it's not something you do on a weekday night."
If your favorite artist is performing in a different town, it's easy to just buy the ticket in one click on your mobile and watch it on your TV, he explained. This high-value streaming experience is designed to take the formal aspect out of watching artists perform by granting all viewers a front-row seat. At the same time, the quality and vibrance of the in-person viewing experience is intended to be preserved with DREAMSTAGE's premium technology, which utilizes high-definition audio/video signal and a clear and friendly user interface.
"Our goal is to make live events in music and entertainment, which can include comedy and other forms of entertainment, as attractive and as interesting as live sports," Hesse said. "People go to live events and go to watch the Mets and Yankees at the stadium, but lots of them watch them on the television. And the same should be true for music."