Brazilian singer Marilia Mendonça holds the record of 3.2 million viewers during her live on YouTube. Photo: YouTube

For Latin America's music, quarantine is all about live streaming

Over the last weeks, Brazilians have been breaking global audience records on YouTube live-streaming concerts. Audio platforms must be paying close attention

The whole world is quarantined. We know that a part of Asia, China mostly, has started to open the doors to the population, but a lot of people are still working from home and in their free time they are still at home – or they should be. The thing is: we’re discovering new ways to entertain ourselves and our families, while still keeping in touch with those who are out there.

Studies and researches keep saying that we’ll create new habits, but so far the numbers show an anticipation or growth in a number of trends that we already followed before the COVID-19 crisis. Our relationship with music is one interesting topic to explore cause our first reaction is to say that this segment is growing, but it is not that simple – especially in Latin America.

The year-on-year growth of platforms that deal with streaming audio displays a huge rise this year. According to a Counterpoint Research paper, there are more than 350 million subscribers in this market in 2020, which represents 32% more than last year. But that was reported in early March, before the coronavirus hit western economy for real and our habits really began to change.

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The most recent studies show that companies like Spotify are registering a drop in streams of the top 200 songs which usually exhibit growth inside the platform. It doesn’t mean that people are dropping off the audio streaming business, because another study, this one from Kantar, shows a surge of 42% in usage of audio streaming services. So, what is really happening?

It would sound misleading or at least naive to say something for certain in this time of crisis. On the other hand, we can say that streaming is growing and we are remodeling our relationship with it. Video streaming for instance is showing nothing but growth, Netflix data spikes day after day – it’s really the golden era for this segment. On the audio side, we can see that people already deal with it as a common thing for streaming services, it’s already inside our day to day activities during most hours.

Live streaming’s golden era?

Nowadays, the usage of music streaming has grown, but it did not register newcomers, and this pushes the industry to a new challenge. How to advance in this time of crisis? The platforms are still trying to figure out but the artists, especially in Latam, found out a good way to stay tuned: live streaming shows.

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In the past two weeks, Brazilian artists like Marília Mendonça, Gusttavo Lima and Jorge e Matheus – three of the biggest singers in Spotify in Brazil – made concerts on YouTube and broke all the records in the platform. Marilia has now the biggest Live video in the history of YouTube with more than 3.2 million concurrent viewers. To do a comparison, the international artist that came closer to that mark was Beyoncé with 458,000 viewers in a Live streamed in 2018.

Almost everyday in Brazil since the last week there is a Live on YouTube with more than 1 million people watching, commenting and sharing content on social media. If audio streaming isn’t gathering new kinds of users, there is one segment to which they could start to pay attention, the one that likes to watch their favorite artist doing a live show. It’s early to say that this will be a common behavior after the pandemic, but for the artists it showed a new way to monetize their music. Maybe it is a way for audio platforms to also expand their product? We’ll see soon enough.