[Case Study] Livestreaming In The Spirit of Swing

Improvisational in nature, it’s hard to think of a genre that lends itself to live performance more than jazz. At Jazz at Lincoln Center, over 160,000 people a year enjoy performances from Wynton Marsalis, Cecile McLorin Salvant, Joey Alexander, and other artists. But fans don’t need to travel to New York City to enjoy the stylings of their favorite jazz musicians. Thanks to Jazz at Lincoln Center’s commitment to live video, an additional 270,000 people tune in on their laptops, mobile devices, and smart TVs.

“We think of Livestream as a tool to engage jazz fans wherever they are.”

Aaron Bisman

Aaron Bisman, Director of Audience Development at Jazz at Lincoln Center, knows that livestreaming their content is essential to a successful digital strategy. “Over the past four years, we have livestreamed over 300 concerts annually and grown a dedicated global audience for jazz through the platform. Livestream has strengthened Jazz at Lincoln Center’s brand by helping us connect with people all over the world,” says Bisman. “The digital world opens an institution up to an audience that is much larger than it could ever contain within its physical space.”

As a cultural institution, Jazz at Lincoln Center’s main focus is to bring music to the masses. It’s about enjoying the music and creating a shared experience among thousands of people.

“We think of Livestream as a tool to engage jazz fans wherever they are,” says Bisman. “We have viewers all over the world in real time. There are people in India, there are people in South America, and there is a strong viewership right here in New York. When you open yourself up to digital opportunities such as livestreaming, you can speak to an exponentially larger audience. Why wouldn’t you make your art, music, and content available to the widest audience possible? It’s a no-brainer.”

Jazz at Lincoln Center doesn’t rely on word-of-mouth or star power to attract viewers to their streams. “We email and [post on] social aggressively,” says Bisman. “We have to attract an audience — we can’t just expect it to happen.”

For some performance venues, there’s a real fear that livestreaming will cannibalize ticket sales. Jazz at Lincoln Center, however, has put that fear to rest. “We’re four years into presenting free concert livestreams and our ticket sales have only increased during that time.”

With more than 10,000 people from around the world tuning in every week, it’s safe to say that Jazz at Lincoln Center has succeeded.


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