Arts audiences have watched more live-streamed and on-demand performances in the last two years than ever.
And those who had engaged with performances online were also more likely to pay for them. This trend is very positive for the industry. As an arts company, you can now reach new audiences with your archived performances catalogue and create a stable stream of alternative income.
Typically, arts companies earn revenue from ticket and gift shop sales for performances showcased in physical venues. However, this revenue stream is limited. As soon as the curtain comes down on a show on the final day, the revenue stream ends with it. In contrast, a digital performance can be monetised continuously during its lifetime on the internet. And if it turns out to be a classic, then it may become your golden goose.
So, how should you monetise your digital performances?
Before you think about monetisation, it is important to think about factors that make a performance revenue-generating. Similar to an in-person performance, a digital performance also has to pass several quality tests before the audience even considers buying a ticket to watch it. Apart from an engaging narrative and performance of the actors on-stage, the video and sound quality are of paramount importance. Any compromise on the factors could push your audience away.
Next, you have to think of how to get the attention span of your digital audience. You can grab their attention with a teaser video or engaging trailers to build anticipation leading up to the premiere date. Plug and drop caste interviews, behind-the-scenes rehearsal footage to keep audiences updated. And, once you’ve got your audiences engaged, video promotion and monetisation could become less challenging.
Among ways to promote and make money from your streams – from audience subscriptions, pay-per-view, and on-demand services to all the way up to tipping, donations, and merch sales, you can make use of any or all of these strategies to build a consistent stream of revenue.
Without further delay, let's explore these strategies in detail.
You can consider adding a paywall to charge your audiences for access to your performances. This can be done in two ways - either offer your digital content on a pay-per-view basis or offer it at a subscription model. And to begin with it, you can choose a streaming platform that gives options to create a video paywall with the monthly subscription fee, and one-time purchase options. Your choice of payment model could be dictated by the nature of your performance. A pay-per-view model is generally suitable for live streams given their ephemeral nature. And it can be very lucrative depending upon how you price per view or a digital ticket. On the other hand, if you have a large library of archived digital shows and performances, you can use a subscription model to get started with video monetisation. The best part of the subscription model is that once you have the content created, you can keep adding to your library, and build a recurring source of revenue from the same content over a period of time. And as you reach new audiences and widen your reach, your earnings will grow along with it. Even a small and dedicated set of audiences can help build a substantial income over time.
2. Tap Into Customer Data
More often companies fail to make money from their livestreams either because they don’t know who their customers are or what their audiences are watching. This can be somewhat like shooting in the dark. You’re creating amazing content, but not targeting it to the right audiences. And that can limit your monetisation potential. So, when you choose to livestream, select a platform that gives you access to your audience's viewing and buying trends along with their contact information such as name and email addresses. Such data can help you in identifying target segments and develop tailored engagement strategies and marketing campaigns around them. Alternatively, if you do not have access to your audience data on the streaming platform, you can also use to gain broad audience insights. Audience Finder is the national audience data and development tool that brings together data on all UK households gathered from over 170 million tickets, 59 million transactions, approximately 750,000 surveys, and web analytics from all the UK's major arts and cultural organisations.
3. Make Use of Online Tipping, and Donations
Online givings are fast becoming a considerable source of revenue for companies. As per digital agency WPNC, individual giving to charities in the UK grew in volume by 26% year on year in 2019. Several streaming platforms now offer donations feature that makes it easy for organisations to accept donations and tips from their audiences. Platforms like Livestream and YouTube embed a built-in “donate” button on their live players so the audiences can donate without moving away from your livestreams. Also, the choice of payment platform also impacts the way people donate online. According to WPNC survey, more people donated via PayPal and Apple Pay than credit or debit cards. According to WPNC, a number of leading UK charities received “over 40% of their donations via PayPal with one seeing more than half of their donations coming via this payment method”. It’s worth checking that the websites you choose to seek donations from offer multi-platform payments.
4. Sell Your Merchandise Online
Audiences always love a nice souvenir to remember their favourite performances by. It’s not just about going to see a show – it’s all the memorabilia one can buy before, during, and after the show. Show merchandise could include a range of clothing, posters, wall arts, CD’s, DVD’s, stationery items, bags and you name it. For your shows, you can select video streaming platforms such as YouTube that enable merch sales while you’re streaming. Or you can also create your own merch store online on platforms like Shopify or Squarespace and plug its link in the description section of your chosen streaming platform.
5. Market Your Performances Far and Wide
One of the in-venue performance’s biggest drawbacks is its inability to reach a wider audience base. At a time, a theatre can accommodate only a few hundred people. But, by livestreaming or offering your videos on demand for a prolonged period of time, your performances have the capacity to reach audiences across the globe. With such potential for distribution, consider video streaming apps that enable easy sharing of performances on different social media platforms and organisation websites, deliver streams across multiple platforms, including smartphones, tablets, computers, and OTT devices, and lastly sends reminders and notifications to your audiences when you upload new content or premiere new shows. The likelihood of your audiences purchasing the ticket to your show also depends on the frequency with which they have been reminded about it.
6. Make use of Affiliate Marketing and Sponsored Tie-Ups
Another popular way to monetise livestreams is to use a sponsorship model. It’s called Advertising Video on Demand (AVOD) in marketing speak. It’s a method of monetisation where other brands pay you to advertise their products in front of your audience during your livestream. In this model, the larger your audience, the more revenue your livestream can generate. The most commonly known platform that offers AVOD is YouTube. For your performances, if you’re thinking to offer them for free to your audiences, you can pick this monetization format as it is easy to set up and most online audiences are already accustomed to it.
If you’ve already used one or all of these methods to monetise your performances, do tell us about your experiences in the comments below. At StageUp, we’re working tirelessly to enhance the monetisation potential of your performances by integrating all the above-mentioned monetisation strategies onto a single platform, so you don’t have to waste time and money to sign up on multiple websites to realise the revenue potential of your shows.