Spotify’s Lowlands research: Streaming supports and extends the value of live music

The inverse relationship of streaming music and music sales is well known, frequently documented here in RAIN. Streaming up, sales down. (Latest RIAA report here.)

A similar symbiotic relationship exists between music sales and music concerts. In The Netherlands, Dutch music lovers spend twice as much money on live music as on recorded music:

spotify lowlands live vs recorded

But there is a third part of these interlocking relationships: streaming and live concerts. How does streaming interact with the concert/festival realm? Is there displacement, as with sales, or is the relationship more cooperative?

That’s the question underlying Spotify’s newly released survey (“Adventures in the Lowlands“) of attendees at the Lowlands festival in The Netherlands (August 15-17), and a corresponding examination of user behavior on Spotify’s service. The author is Will Page, Director of Economics at Spotify U.K., and keynoter of the upcoming RAIN Summit Europe.

Page directed a research effort that included a double survey.¬†Spotify questioned nearly 2,000 attendees of the Lowlands festival, while Mojo Concerts conducted a separate and simultaneous survey of about the same size. The specific survey goal:¬†“To understand how people used Spotify (and streaming services) before, during and after the festival.”

Two-thirds of festival attendees used Spotify, and over half of them were Spotify Premium subscribers to the fully interactive, on-demand portion of the service.

Key survey results:


  1. 70% of respondents used Spotify before the festival to discover new bands
  2. Post-festival, 79% listened to bands they heard at the festival
  3. Also post-festival, 48% used Spotify to discover festival bands the respondents didn’t see
  4. During the Lowlands festival, streaming dropped off.


A report chart (below) illustrates streaming activity for a cluster of 16 festival bands selected by Spotify:


spotify lowlands streaming



The study identified what might be called an uplift winner: the folk duo First Aid Kit, whose streams increased 135% in the two weeks following the festival. Hot crooner Sam Smith did well too, especially in the context of established stardom — his post-Lowlands streams jumped 14% in new listeners.

“This report shows how Spotify, artists and festivals (or live music in general) push each other.” –Eric van Eerdenburg, Lowlands Festival Director

Overall, Spotify’s findings support a conclusion that streaming music enabled and enhanced music and artist discovery before the Lowlands festival, and continued to build fan connection after the festival. By extension, there is an inherent argument here that streaming encourages live music events and the revenue they spin into the music ecosystem.

The survey finding fills an important spot in the jigsaw puzzle of a musician’s business. With music sales skidding in most markets, and musicians increasingly saying that concerts are the go-to income opportunity of the digital era, Spotify’s report points to streaming as a contributor to concert success and fan relationships — while still providing incremental per-stream revenue from online listening.

Brad Hill