PUSH LIVE: The Future of Livestreaming

One of the forerunners in the flourishing world of livestreaming, PUSH LIVE’s Executive Director, Production and Operations, Jonnie Coffin, and Global Head of Marketing, Steve Munachen, walk TPi through their cloud-based operating system and outline how distribution of content is the key to any virtual experience. TPi’s Stew Hume reports…

“Streaming is the opposite to Field of Dreams – it’s not just a simple case of ‘if you build it, they will come’,” explained PUSH LIVE’s Global Head of Marketing, Steve Munachen, while he and fellow PUSH LIVE colleague, Jonnie Coffin, chatted to TPi via Zoom. “In short, to build an audience, content needs to be streamed to channels and destinations where audiences already congregate.”

Although this year has marked a significant rise in the number of artists, promoters and productions having to adapt to this developing form of a ‘live’ event, PUSH LIVE had been making inroads into this format for several years, and the company is now poised to present a solution for the future of live music going forward. “We have been developing the PUSH LIVE software for a number of years, offering a streaming solution for live events,” remarked Coffin.

However, clever coding and technical infrastructure is what sets PUSH LIVE apart from others on the market. “We are able to take a single video feed, and then in the cloud, customise it, break it apart and send it out to any number of destinations that we choose.” Effectively, this means that a performer could play a show in a venue, which would then be streamed simultaneously on any number of other channels online, all of which is done without a platform having to hand over their social login details.

“We have a sharing URL, which we setup for all our projects,” stated Coffin. “This means the channel owners can go the PUSH LIVE interface and connect with our API to then stream on YouTube, Twitch or any other platform they choose.”

The other benefit is that all additions to the feeds – sponsor logos or extra VT elements – can be made in real time in the cloud, meaning that each individual feed is customisable instantaneously, even though all streams are coming from the same source or event. This means platforms can customise the content to feel unique to their audience.

Personalisation of content is one the key foundations of PUSH LIVE projects. “Audiences these days have a repertoire of channels they visit each day,” stated Munachen. “From subscriptions to certain YouTube creators to specific Facebook pages they follow; it’s really hard to get a group of people to add a new page to their list and change their habits.” He explained that this was the issue that most livestreams have, in that they only exist on one official channel. “With PUSH LIVE sending out multiple streams to various trusted channels and content mediators, we are getting the content straight to the people who can then engage in the content in a native environment.”

PUSH LIVE’s Executive Director, Production and Operations, Jonnie Coffin.

PUSH LIVE has already had proof of concept over the years, having been very much part of the streaming fabric for Boiler Room – the online DJ platform, which has seen artists perform shows to a live audience across the world. Recently, just before the world went into lockdown, PUSH LIVE provided the streaming infrastructure of EDC Mexico. With its formula of mass distribution to several different channels, the company helped the festival increase its online audience from three million over three years to 13 million in 2020.

Over the three days of EDC show, PUSH LIVE distributed content to 87 different locations although, as both Coffin and Munachen stated, “we could have done a lot more”. Coffin continued: “We find it often takes customers at least one event to understand the technology, but then by the next event, they come back to us and really embrace it more.” He also explained how it is a great way for artists to take their content from their festival performances and give it directly to their fanbase with their own personalised touch.

During the festival, PUSH LIVE included a video package for each stage as well as handled the streams. “Although we are a tech company, most of us come from a production background, specifically music production, so we were able to offer these video services as well,” stated Coffin. “With us handling both the cameras and the streaming, we were able to do away with miles of cabling and broadcast trucks.”

“It’s all about turning the traditional model on its head,” added Munachen, referring to breaking the traditional broadcast model with several OB Trucks having to beam out content.

“The majority of the work takes place in the planning stage, where you need to think in detail about where all the streams are going and the message that needs to be unique for each audience. Whereas in the old way, all the distribution happens at the back-end.” This breaking the norm is why PUSH LIVE has so quickly turned its attention to music which, as an industry, according to Coffin, is far more receptive to this turning towards streaming. In recent weeks, the company has announced the employment of Larry Gale, former Head of Live Production at Boiler Room, who will be leading the production network at PUSH LIVE, helping up-skill people with the interface.

“Touring is the only way for bands to make a living, but maybe live streaming could help them also be the next big thing for the music industry,” stated Munachen. He went on to give a hypothetical scenario that a big A-list artist right now might sell sponsorship for a livestream but, with the PUSH model, the stream to each global territory could have its own sponsorship and, even though it might be cheaper, it would end up being more lucrative for the artist.

The duo also stated how leaning into the streaming model could result in artists breaking through quicker. If a band playing a show to 20 people in a venue could be streamed to various territories or to established music platforms, that crowd of 20 could transform into 20,000 and data from the stream could be used to determine potential locations for the next tour.

It’s clear that PUSH LIVE sees streaming as integral to the music industry moving forward, but TPi was keen to decipher the company’s opinion about the recent news that Facebook would no longer allow music to be streamed on its platform. Did this affect the firm’s vision of the future?

“It’s true that we have seen Facebook go one way when it comes to streaming,” admitted Coffin. “That said, we have seen Twitch go in the complete opposite direction. They are on the cutting edge of streaming and taking their lead from the gaming industry. In my opinion, if you want to be on the cutting edge of technology, you should look to the gaming industry and their attitude to live content and streaming to see where other industry is going.”

With an incredibly busy year almost behind them, both Coffin and Munachen, along with the rest of the PUSH LIVE team, are now looking at increasing the awareness of the brand, especially in the live music sphere.

This article originally appeared in issue #256 of TPi, which you can read here.