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When concerts, among other large gatherings, became impossible due to COVID-19, consumers still sought entertainment and a means to connect with their favorite artists. A new model quickly arose, in which streaming platforms contracted with popular musicians to play for large audiences, connected virtually. Some of the first few versions were free, but the various parties in this particular supply chain also have started thinking about how to ensure that those providing the service are being paid for their efforts.

One experiment along these lines is instructive. The BeApp platform came into being only after the pandemic took hold, seeking to provide a concert-dedicated alternative to general streaming platforms like YouTube or Spotify. Initiated by two music industry professionals, its sole selling proposition is to offer a series of daily concerts, for 60 days, featuring popular artists like Diplo, Katy Perry, and the cast of Hamilton.

On BeApp, users can not only listen to the performance but also interact with the channel, such as by inviting their friends to join the livestreams, commenting on the performance, and donating to the Red Cross through a link. When they engage in these ways, users also earn points, which they can trade for “front row” access (i.e., their names get displayed onscreen) and even a mention by the artist in real time.

In addition to this novel approach to live music, the innovative concept is prompting a novel approach to sponsorships. Coca-Cola agreed to sponsor the new app, and in return, it earned naming rights for the 60-day experiment, now called Coke Studio Sessions. Furthermore, the latest announcements of which new artists have been added to the lineup and when their performances will stream appear on Coca-Cola’s social media channels, likely driving more traffic by impatient fans.

Other brands that traditionally have devoted substantial marketing dollars to concert sponsorships similarly are seeking alternative investments. For example, on YouTube, visitors can find the Budweiser Rewind series, in which artists play more informally, and users can request specific songs during the session.

But the Coke sponsorship of BeApp is distinct, in that it involves a totally new platform, designed to be limited in duration, that is dedicated solely to streaming live concerts. Whether the novelty will be part of the appeal, or if consumers will simply rely on familiar platforms to get their live music fix, remains to be seen.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Do you think BeApp will be able to differentiate itself from more established services?
  2. Do you think digital experiences will replace live sponsorships?

Source: Peter Adams, “Coke Bets on New Music Streamer BeApp as Virtual Concerts Take Center Stage,” Marketing Dive, May 22, 2020; Coca-Cola, “#BeApp Partners with Coca-Cola to Launch Coke Session Series,” May 14, 2020, https://www.coca-colacompany.com/press-releases/beapp-partners-with-coca-cola-to-launch-coke-studio-sessions