Spotify adds virtual event listings as COVID-19 threatens 2021 tours

As the coronavirus has all but shut down music tours this year, the craving for live shows is a constant theme across social media. But if Spotify is right, fans shouldn’t expect to see their favorite artists in person anytime soon.

Today, the music streaming giant announced it is adding virtual event listings to its artist pages. The new feature hardly seems earth-shattering in terms of Spotify’s overall business. But the message is clear. As the company noted in a blog post, the pandemic seems almost certain to persist, and any return to normalcy for the music industry is likely far away.

“With many tours postponed until 2021, the necessity for these virtual events is set to continue, and we want to make it easy for Spotify listeners to learn about the virtual events for artists they love, and for artists they’re discovering for the very first time,” the company wrote in the post.

Like many businesses, Spotify has been trying to adapt to the pandemic without appearing to leverage the crisis for its benefit. In the spring, after many countries and some parts of the U.S. had imposed lockdowns, Spotify saw listening via wearables, cars, and web-based platforms fall but consumption through TV and game consoles increase dramatically. Despite these shifts, Spotify’s subscription base has continued to grow at a decent clip this year. But the company is taking a longer view now, as evidenced by the new virtual events feature.

Over the past few months, a growing number of musicians have been organizing virtual performances to connect with fans. Spotify even created a tip sheet for musicians putting on home concerts. As of today, Spotify listeners can check artists’ pages to find listings of those virtual events in the On Tour section. The listings will be pulled in automatically via Spotify’s partnership with concert steaming app Songkick. A more limited number will be added via Ticketmaster.

The virtual events can be hosted on any platform and added to Songkick or Ticketmaster to appear on Spotify, which will also offer artists new tools for promoting the listings on their pages.

While this won’t necessarily drive direct new revenues for Spotify, the company is helping artists and fans adapt to a new reality. As with other digital shifts during the pandemic, it will be interesting to see if these virtual events become a long-term fixture of the music scene, whether to supplement touring or replace it altogether.

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