In a recent 24-hour period, I went from seeing a Russian accordion player named MOZG888VADIM play everything from traditional Russian ballads to Lady Gaga to seeing a lizard sun itself to having Travis Scott bring 12.3 million people into a virtual fantasy landscape. And I never had to leave my couch.
If there is one thing that our collective quarantined existence has done for the media, marketing and experience worlds, it brought the rise of live-to-platform scale and awareness.
Though the ad industry has turned dramatically toward experience in recent years, Covid-19 restrictions forced us to pivot quickly to think how we can create deeper connections with people when we cannot engage them in person.
Live formats have been around for a while: Twitch video game streamers, influencers’ beauty regimens and webinars for businesses. Remember when YouTube democratized video in 2006? There are 4.7 million videos viewed every single minute on YouTube, which shows the seismic shift they created. Something similar is happening around going live. Twitch, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, TikTok, Discord, Vimeo and over 30 other platforms made launching into a live scene as simple as pressing a button to your friends and followers, and this was all here pre-pandemic.
Since Covid-19, Facebook has seen live viewings increase by 50%, Instagram by 70% and Twitch is seeing new channel creation up 33%, a high for the platform. And while we have seen some hiccups occur with the greater amounts of attention that livestreaming is getting, we are witnessing a paradigm shift akin to the rise of social media that we all need to be paying attention to.
The live shows and streams start to fall into a few distinct categories:
The micro class
Interesting and talented people are showing us how they work on specific tasks, how they create and how they flex in their craft. Whether it is making ravioli or upping your fitness game, this is the latest opportunity to connect with an open, enthusiastic audience. The opportunity for a cadenced and direct information drop is large and creates a real connection for a thirsty public that wants to learn more and try their hand at it. The positive response for giving this away feels ripe for creators, makers and brands to drive engagement and heightened likability.
The dance/listening party
The first time I tuned in to D-Nice’s Instagram Live Club Quarantine DJ set in mid-March, there were 352 people listening and dancing along with me. Fast forward two weeks and there were over 100,000 people partying. We felt equalized as our comments to D-Nice were being sent alongside those of Mariah Carey, Michelle Obama, Oprah and Mark Zuckerberg. It revealed to us that collective experience can be participatory, live and intimate.
Along with D-Nice, a whole host of others were DJing, teaching guitar lessons, doing couch performances, giving guided meditations and many other creative and calming activities to connect us to our artistic side. Fans, creators and aspiring talent can also get closer and more personal with the people they look up to.
The big event
With wider audience attention, rising media consumption and celebrity involvement, it was inevitable that the livestream would start to go big. People plus platforms plus star power bring eyeballs, brand interest and the cultural moments that get us talking. We have gone from zero to 60 in a very short period of time, yet not without some glitches along the way.
When Cardi B had Bernie Sanders on her Instagram Live, it became destination viewing. There were the DJ Premier vs. RZA and Jill Scott vs. Erykah Badu Verzuz song battles. Fortnite and Travis Scott lit up the screen in the largest concert ever to take place on a video gaming platform. Bigger and more frequent large events are coming; this is a space to watch.