How many people watched Kanye West’s Donda live stream?
Kanye West broke Apple Music’s streaming record with the listening party live stream of his album Donda. Over 3.3 million people tuned in to hear the premiere of Ye’s new album alongside the thousands of attendees who were listening in-person at Mercedes Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia.
The previous live stream record holder was only a fraction of this - 1.8 million viewers virtually attended the rap battle between Gucci Mane and Jeezy.
With corporate giants like Apple Music settling into the live streaming space, it’s becoming clear that premium live stream experiences are set to impact the entertainment industry majorly.
Reactions to the Donda event were mixed. Some called it innovative. Others called it self-indulgent and underthought.
Whatever side of the fence you fall on, it’s clear there’s a ton we can learn from Donda.
What can we learn from Yeezy’s live stream?
1. Great live stream concerts can turn a profit
Not only do live stream concerts work - they work really well.
Kanye managed to sell out Atlanta’s Mercedes Benz stadium in just a couple of hours. A few years ago, this would mean anyone who didn’t get a ticket is simply out of luck. With modern live stream capabilities, however, it’s possible for artists to sell more tickets even beyond a stadium’s capacity.
Selling enough tickets to sell out an entire stadium is great - selling millions of extra tickets to people who tune into a live stream version is even better.
The tickets, in this case, were subscriptions to Apple Music, the exclusive broadcaster of the live stream event. The return on investment was so evident, Apple invited Yeezy to do it again two weeks later.
2. Quality is key
One of the biggest complaints the Apple Music live stream received was the lack of quality. Although there has been a debate on whether the mediocre quality was the fault of Apple Music or Kanye, it still was something many viewers took issue with. One Reddit user commented, “[Kanye] just ruined it with his lack of trying and all the ridiculous mumbling and repetition and his inexplicable refusal to use a good quality mic to record on.”
Whenever there is a virtual aspect to your event, audiovisual quality should always be a top priority. No one is going to be impressed with lagging video footage or audio that skips in and out. If you want your event to be professional and engaging, you need to put in the effort to make sure it looks the part.
A professional virtual event production company can help ensure all technical aspects of a live stream event are pristine.
3. Virtual events can be better than in-person events
This is definitely a controversial one, but hear us out. Audience members started entering Mercedes Benz stadium well before eight when the concert was set to begin. Nearly two hours later, Yeezy hit the stage.
While in-person attendees were milling around, waiting for Ye to make an appearance, online viewers were playing drinking games with friends, making a late dinner, or even laying comfortably in bed while waiting for the show to start.
Now would you rather be lying in bed comfortably or standing in line at Mercedes Benz Stadium waiting for $50 chicken tenders?
It often seems like in-person events are always going to be the best option, but events like this call that into question.
4. Content is everything
The main reason this event was so successful is the fact that Kanye’s name was attached to it. Fans have been waiting for a new release from Kanye since his last album, Jesus Is King, came out in 2019. The success of this live stream was bound to be immense because the content is exciting, entertaining, and newsworthy.
The content will always be the most important part of your event, whether it be in-person, virtual, or a mix of both. If the content is there, people will follow.
5. Hybrid events are the future
If any one thing can be taken away from Kanye’s monumental album premiere, it’s that hybrid events are here for the long haul. Not only did this event prove that live and virtual events can be successful, but it also opened up a whole new avenue for how companies can host events in 2021 and beyond.
According to Markletic, a marketing metrics provider, 71% of companies with over 5,000 employees have hybrid events in their portfolio - and that number is steadily rising. This indicates that larger businesses are noticing and utilizing the potential that hybrid events have to offer. A related study by etc.venues states that 73% of event planners expect hybrid events to be commonplace in the future.
Hybrid events are truly the best of both worlds. Those who are able to go in person have the opportunity to do so, while people who either can’t or prefer not to attend in person can still experience the event.