Five Months, 14 Shows, 300,000 Tickets Sold: How Driift Cracked Livestreaming

Niall Horan.
Conor McDonnell
– Niall Horan.
Overlooking the spectacular Royal Albert Hall.

It’s been around five months, since Driift started producing high-quality ticketed concert livestreams. Since then, the team around CEO Ric Salmon has realized 14 shows with different artists, including Niall Horan, Dermont Kennedy, Kylie Minogue, Laura Marling, Lianne La Havas, Nick Cave and more, who’ve collectively sold some 300,000 tickets.
Horan’s Nov. 7 livestream from London’s Royal Albert Hall alone sold some 127,000 tickets, grossing a whopping £1.87 million ($2.5 million). That same night, Driift broadcast a pre-recorded live performance of Kylie Minogue, which sold an additional close to 30,000 tickets, bringing the total number of tickets sold in one night up to almost 160,000.
Laura Marling grossed £52,740 ($70,000) with her June 6 performance at London’s Union Chapel. Nick Cave’s epic solo performance in the West Hall of Alexandra Palace in June brought in £531,596 ($705,000).
In a few months, Driift established a functioning business model that keeps not just artists but crews as well working during an unprecedented period, in which almost everyone in live events is prohibited from doing their jobs.
Ric Salmon
– Ric Salmon
Director at ATC Management & co-founder and CEO of Driift.

Salmon told Pollstar, that the past months have been “a joy in the sense that it just keeps surpassing our expectations time and time again, in every way, really, the creative scope, the long-term future, the financial return on some of the shows, the number of tickets sold. And it’s just a joy, especially at the moment, just getting people back to work.”

And work it takes. A live-streamed concert by Driift may involve 80 to 100 crew members, “not just a normal touring crew, you’ve also got a broadcast crew, and a camera crew. They’re big operations,” said Salmon, who has learned a lot over these past five months, for instance, “we originally thought that it was going to be quite a tech-heavy format and platform, in the sense that fans would want to interact with the performers, chat rooms, private rooms, etc. Actually, we’ve found, for the most part, people just prefer just to have an incredible viewing experience.”
Most of the 750,000 fans who reportedly tuned into BTS’s recent livestream will have watched the show on their phones, which is where chat functionalities make total sense. But Driift data shows that most of its viewers are watching concerts on their smart TVs, where you’d have to pollute the full-screen experience with a chat client that might be hard to decipher anyways when viewing from a distance. 
“You’ve only got to look anecdotally at Twitter to see people taking photos of themselves at home, watching on a TV, with a coffee table and a bottle of wine and candles. It feels like most people are just enjoying the actual experience of the show,” Salmon said.
His team has started taking more risks when filming shows, trying to push what’s possible creatively. Driift’s upcoming Andrea Bocelli Christmas concert, Dec. 12, has been creatively directed by Franco Dragone, best known for his work with Cirque du Soleil and Celine Dion. It will be recorded and streamed live from the spectacular opera Teatro Regio di Parma in Italy.
The ability to go into venues, buildings and structures that wouldn’t normally be used for concerts is one of the great advantages of the livestream. Another is the sound quality, which can be guaranteed to a much greater extent than on a huge arena’s PA system.
Kylie Minogue.
David Lopez-Edwards
– Kylie Minogue.
Almost 30,000 bought a ticket to watch her pre-recorded Infinite Disco livestream.

A third is the potentially worldwide ticket-buying audience. Said Salmon, “We’ve become accustomed, quite rightly, to think in local markets, not even country-wide demographics, almost city-wide demographics. If you did a world tour, and you only went through London and Berlin and Paris, a lot of fans that live a five or six-hour drive away from those cities, like in Scotland or the South or Germany, are unlikely to make the journey. With this format, you’re targeting fans no matter where they live.”

Driift just launched in Australia with the help of Paul “Sloanie” Sloan (Supersonic/Billions), and in Asia through a partnership with well-respected independent promoter Justin Sweeting, head of music at Magnetic Asia, which is based out of both Hong Kong and Singapore. 
The company has also taken on its first member of staff in the U.S., Salmon revealed: Adam Shore, who used to run Red Bull Music in the States. While they will initially focus on working Driift produced concerts locally, the plan is to produce original shows with local artists going forward and promote them internationally.
At press time, confirmed upcoming concerts included The Vamps (Nov. 21) and Katie Melua (Dec. 4), with imminent announcements for events in Australia and North America, including “five or six very big U.S. acts we’re just about to close deals with. We’ve got shows booked up until March next year,” according to Salmon.
Niall Horan
Conor McDonnell
– Niall Horan
Being filmed for his Nov. 7 live livestream, which sold some 127,000 tickets.

Driift is also working on an emerging artist series in London: three consecutive nights, with four acts performing live each night. 

“We want to do a lot more with developing artists, which will require finding solutions to shooting these shows at a cheaper level. It’s all well and good when you’re dealing with the big artists, because the margins are there, but there is a lower threshold that frustratingly high, if you want to do these shows in the right way, to the level that we are,” Salmon explained. 
He said it cost around £45,000 ($60,000) to pull off a show, which means, “You have to sell 5,000 or 6,000 ticket to have it make sense. We want to do be able to do shows where you’re doing 2,000 or 1,500 tickets, and still make money for the artist. It is a technical challenge to pull off those shows with camera people and venues costs at that lower end, but it’s a challenge, we’re determined to overcome.”