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How much would you pay to watch your favorite artist's livestream?

Updated: May 25, 2020

In the latest update to online streaming, Facebook Live may be getting a little pricier for the average viewer.

Due to COVID-19 and its unknown longevity, many artists have turned to live streams on Facebook and Instagram for performances, Q&As, or other fan interactions. In a recent announcement by Facebook, the social media platform shared updates and future plans for their Facebook Live platform that were made with creators and small businesses in mind.

Back in March, Facebook said their Facebook Live usage increased by 50% during the month, more than likely due to the increase of individuals quarantining. The company then shifted their focus on how they could make people feel present with one another when they are apart. One of the major updates was the idea of allowing creators to charge for access to their live streams.

According to Facebook, “You’ll be able to mark Facebook Events as online only and, in the coming weeks, integrate Facebook Live so you can broadcast to your guests. To support creators and small businesses, we plan to add the ability for Pages to charge for access to events with Live videos on Facebook – anything from online performances to classes to professional conferences.”

The ability to charge for streams will not be the only way artists can monetize their live streams. Also in the announcement was the expansion of Facebook's “Stars” capability to musicians and artists. “Stars” are virtual gifts a creator can use to monetize their stream.

More commonly used by the gaming community, this incentive will now be granted to musicians using the platform. According to Facebook, once a viewer buys “Stars” they can send one to the creator of the live stream and they will earn 1 cent for every Star.

Other new features include an audio only option that allows those who do not have the bandwidth to support the video to still listen to the stream. The company has also made it possible to watch a Facebook live stream without even needing a Facebook account.

These new capabilities come as COVID-19 has left the future of music festivals and world tours unknown. Although festivals such as Coachella and Stagecoach have been pushed to the near future, it is still unclear when physical concerts will become a norm once again. This new reality of livestream concerts may be some artists' form of income for now.

It is important to note, this new way of live streaming may not end when COVID-19 does. Artists will have the ability to economically benefit from live streams even after the virus has passed. This would open a new door to the economics of online streaming and social media platforms.

Now the question is, how much would you pay to watch a live stream?

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