Back to Live: Resources and Tools for Artists Returning to the Stage

Timothy "timmhotep" Cornwall / July 23, 2021

With venues starting to re-open and shows being booked again, here’s a list of resources to help artists make the most of this moment.

It’s impossible to overstate the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the world and the live music industry in particular. For artists, no in-person shows and no touring meant no on-the-spot merch purchases and no opportunities to have IRL interactions with the fans.

Last year, we offered support in the form of the COVID-19 Music Relief Project, which matched public donations to verified music relief organizations for a total Spotify contribution of $10 million; Artist Fundraising Pick, which allows artists to highlight fundraising destinations such as Cash App, GoFundMe, and on their profile pages; a $500,000 donation to the National Independent Venue Association’s Save Our Stages campaign to help keep shuttered venues afloat; and better support for fans to find Virtual Events listings on artist profiles and in the Concerts Hub.

Now, with increasing vaccination rates, social distancing, and other COVID-era precautions like rapid testing and masks, things are gradually opening back up in the U.S. and shows are starting to get booked again. But people’s safety and well-being are still paramount; these are precarious times, and we understand that not all artists are ready to schedule shows or hit the road again. As some artists do choose to return to the stage, we want to help them promote their shows to fans, learn from industry leaders, plan their tours, and encourage safe concert-going as they navigate the journey Back to Live.

Here are some of the first Back to Live resources, initiatives, and tools you can keep your eye out for — with more in the works over the coming months:

Fans First

Fans First is an email marketing program that enables artists to sell unique or exclusive offers – like concert presales, merch, and more — to their very biggest fans on Spotify. Since the program started in 2017, Fans First has driven $200 million to artists in ticket and merch sales. Though we paused the Fans First live presale campaigns in March 2020, we brought it back last month and are investing in expanding the program to support more artists, now planning to run 35% more concert ticket pre-sale campaigns than the same period in 2019.

Concerts Hub

Concerts Hub is an in-app destination for personalized concert listings from their favorite artists based on listening history and location. We want to make it even easier for Spotify users to find out about these shows on the platform, so we’re testing Concerts on “Home” as a way to increase awareness of shows. We’re also leveraging in-app messaging to drive tens of millions of users to the Concerts Hub to provide additional visibility for live shows.

Promo Cards

You can already use these custom assets to draw attention to your new tracks and Spotify milestones on social media, and now you can also use them to plug your tour dates and locations. Just search for your artist name on our Promo Cards site, select the “Live show” focus, download, and share your Live Promo Card to your social media Stories. Remember to fill in the city and date for your show when creating the Story, and include the link for tickets.

COVID-19 Vaccine Awareness Program

Health and safety are key concerns as live shows return, and there’s no greater tool for ensuring performers’ and fans’ safety than vaccination. Unfortunately, vaccine hesitancy is a barrier to this. With the help and expertise of our global nonprofit and governmental partners, via everything from billboards to PSAs to in-app notifications, we’ll provide the public with accurate information and empower trusted voices from the artist community to share credible information with their fans.

Co.Lab event series, videos, and podcasts

Spotify for Artists’s Co.Lab series was created to facilitate artists networking their peers, getting advice, and workshopping their careers with the best in the business. We are planning a special Back to Live series this summer, where we will feature experienced touring artists and industry experts as they share insights around navigating a return to live shows and adapting to the changes of the past year. Check here for updates and timing on registration. We’ll also be sharing more expert advice and perspective from industry insiders and artists on our blog and social media channels.

Tips and tricks

While all of that is in the works, there are also powerful ways to use existing tools as part of your touring strategy. Here are just a few ways you can use Spotify for Artists to work for you as you get Back to Live:

  • First things first: If you’re new to listing shows on Spotify or have questions about how to do it, visit our FAQ page. When you list your upcoming shows, they’ll automatically appear in the “On Tour” section of your artist profile.

  • Your profile is prime real estate for promotion, and your Artist Pick gives you the ability to grab your listeners’ attention when they visit it. Use it to list your upcoming shows, tease a setlist with an image, or feature a custom playlist that offers a preview of what fans will hear on tour.

  • Seeing is believing, and giving fans a taste of what they can expect to see at your show is a great way to promote. You can use Canvas to share special tour moments you’ve captured and encourage fans to share them on Instagram Stories straight from Spotify. For example, singer-songwriter Jeremy Zucker filmed fans in every city of his last European tour and incorporated the footage into his Canvases — check out the case study on our Features page.

  • Planning a tour is a science in itself, and like any other science, the more data you have, the better you can strategize. Use your Spotify for Artists Top Cities streaming data to help inform where you’ll tour, use song-level stats to help build setlists, and more.

  • Using the insights from our recent Fan Study and your Spotify for Artists data, you can make smart decisions about what kinds of merch to bring on tour based on genre and cities where those items will sell best.

  • When you’re actually on the road, selling merch and giving out collateral, use Spotify Codes to draw concertgoers back to your artist profile.

Are you getting ready to go Back to Live? Share your journey with us on Twitter @spotifyartists and Instagram @spotifyforartists.

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