Seeking to strengthen its ties to the music industry, YouTube said it will for the first time stream a performance from the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in Times Square in New York City.
When the K-pop band Blackpink takes the stage in Indio on Friday evening, the same performance will be shown to the public for free on “The Beast” screen in Times Square.
The push could help generate more awareness for San Bruno-based YouTube as a destination for music, where users can live stream concerts.
“It gets the YouTube name out there,” said Paul Verna, a principal analyst covering video at research firm EMarketer.
This year will be the ninth year that YouTube has livestreamed Coachella on its platform. Last year, more than 41 million people tuned into the video platform to see performances remotely on Coachella’s opening weekend, a 75% increase from 2017.
Lyor Cohen, YouTube’s global head of music, said that streaming live concerts on YouTube boosts user satisfaction and encourages people to spend more time on the platform. Many of YouTube’s most viewed videos over the years have been related to music, and groups including Blackpink have generated large followings on the platform. For example, Blackpink’s music video for “Kill This Love” last week generated 56.7 million views on YouTube in its first 24 hours, setting a record for the biggest music video debut, YouTube said.
“One of the key motivations is allowing more artists to be seen by their fans wherever their fans are,” Cohen said. “Not everybody could afford or go to see some of these festivals.”
Already some fans are hosting parties at home where people gather around YouTube’s livestream of Coachella, he said.
A YouTube spokeswoman said the idea for the Times Square event came from the company and Coachella’s promoter Goldenvoice talking about ways to amplify the festival. Cohen declined to provide the cost of broadcasting the festival performance at Times Square or who is paying for it.
Although there is risk that livestreaming a festival could cut into ticket sales, Verna says the broadcast could also generate more awareness and differentiate the event from others.
Cohen said he does not think Goldenvoice is concerned about the livestream affecting Coachella ticket sales. Already, YouTube’s livestream of some sets from the Fuji Rock Festival in Japan helped speed up ticket sales this year, he added.
Goldenvoice could not be reach for comment.
YouTube, which started out as a site where people could upload amateur videos, has reworked its image over the years to emerge as a place not just for cat videos, but also highly produced music videos and original productions. But balancing those two worlds has been a challenge for the Google-owned company. YouTube has faced criticism for not doing enough to police hate speech on its platform, and some creators have complained that its changing algorithms make it difficult for them to get enough ads. YouTube has also floundered in marketing its premium service, with the name changing several times, said Verna of EMarketer.
But the platform still remains a place for some artists to skyrocket to more fame. Blackpink was the first K-pop group to receive more than 20 million subscribers on YouTube. “It’s helped us to reach out and share our music to millions of people around the world,” the group said in a statement.