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The streaming startups trying to save the music industry mid-pandemic

Two decades ago, digital technology pulled the record business inside out, a shock from which it has only recently recovered. But in 2020 it is helping, at least partially, to remedy a live business obliterated by coronavirus cancellations.

Early in the pandemic, the likes of Twitch, YouTube, Instagram, TikTok and Facebook filled a gap with their livestreaming capabilities. Since then, dozens of new companies have launched with a streaming-specific remit – some taking a more egalitarian and ethical approach than the tech giants – while other event companies, who until recently were dedicated to real world gigs, are offering performers and fans the option to participate in pay-per-view livestreams.

“Before lockdown, we couldn’t have cared less about livestreaming,” says Phil Hutcheon, founder and CEO of ticketing app Dice. Watching “boring” livestreams on Instagram spurred him to set up a new team to launch Dice TV – Scottish superstar Lewis Capaldi was the first act to use it, charging £5 a head; acts can now sell merchandise alongside their streamed shows. “Selling 100 T-shirts at £30 a pop as they are limited edition – that’s their lifesaver,” says Hutcheon.

Big audience … Laura Marling performs to an online-only audience from London’s Union Chapel in June. Photograph: Lorne Thomson/Redferns

Some acts have reaped serious money from ticketed livestreams: Pollstar reports Laura Marling sold 4,500 (UK) tickets at £12 each for her show at London’s Union Chapel in June; YouTube says Japanese artist Reol made $130,000 from a livestream on its platform in August; and BTS’s management company Big Hit said they had

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