Since Most music industry executives don’t have a nickname from Bono. But LiveXLive president Dermot McCormack, who the Irish rock legend endearingly calls “Digital Dermot from Dublin,” isn’t most music industry executives.
In previous leadership roles at AOL and Viacom, McCormack was at the forefront of music’s transition into the digital space, particularly at MTV, where he oversaw the launch of the O Music Awards and helped the network modernize its digital offering.
He’s innovating again at LiveXLive, the livestreaming platform that delivered festivals such as Bonnaroo and EDC Las Vegas to couchbound music fans before the coronavirus struck, and has now become a leader in virtual touring by seamlessly integrating monetization and merchandising.
“Clearly, livestreaming is important, and I think COVID has sped up its importance,” McCormack says. “It’s important because people love live music and you don’t always have the time, the location, the parking fees to go see a band.”
Among LiveXLive’s COVID-era events have been “Lift Every Voice: A Juneteenth Special,” a co-production with Live Nation that featured Common, Fantastic Negrito and more, and a lucrative pay-per-view partnership with streaming series Live From Out There, which has staged interactive gigs with artists such as Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, Twiddle and Goose.
The most successful might be “Music Lives,” a 48-hour marathon benefit sponsored by TikTok and Facebook that hosted more than 100 artists, generated 23.9 million livestream views across 179 countries and which McCormack produced while suffering from coronavirus.
“I had it for five days, and I was working my tail off executive producing that show,” he says.
Born and raised in Dublin, Ireland, McCormack’s interest in music, as both a passion and a career, was kickstarted when he walked to a free show staged by U2, fresh off its starmaking “War Tour,” in the city’s Phoenix Park in August 1983. His lifelong connection to concerts means that, despite LiveXLive’s streaming focus, McCormack sees an enduring role for physical shows; in fact, earlier this year LiveXLive acquired Chicago-area EDM promoter React Presents and its flagship festival Spring Awakening.
Once the pandemic abates, “my business and the live physical business will be combined in new ways” McCormack predicts. “You’re going to see physical and digital combined in whole new way, and ultimately as a revenue model.”