Amazon Music Live Levels Up

BLACK FRIDAY IN A HONKY-TONK: Garth Brooks, one of the best-selling solo artists of all time in the U.S., recently performed the first-ever Black Friday Amazon Music Live special at his new bar in Nashville, Tennessee, called Friends in Low Places Bar & Honky-Tonk. He is one of several big-name artists to livestream a performance via Amazon Prime and Twitch this year. (Courtesy 8 Ten, Inc.)

The Amazon streaming teams are all smiles this year as the tech giant is starting to reap the benefits of its $11 billion deal with the NFL to broadcast Thursday Night Football. Prime Video reportedly saw an uptick this season with double-digit increases in the first half of the season and an average of 12.5 million viewers, which is up 25% compared to the previous year, according to Nielsen – growth that in turn benefits programming surrounding the weekly event, specifically one that promotes live music.

Amazon Music Live, a weekly concert series streamed on Prime Video as well as Twitch that promotes new music from established and emerging artists, is growing alongside Thursday Night Football and has exceeded viewership numbers from last year’s first season, according to the streaming company. The second season surpassed the total viewership numbers for season one in only the first three weeks, and viewership for Amazon Music Live was up 280% compared to the previous year.

“I think there’s a bit of a brand with Amazon Music Live,” Ryan Redington, general manager of Amazon Music, tells Pollstar. “Going into season two, we built on the foundation that was set a year ago with season one, which is always helpful. We saw viewership grow 280% year to year, which is pretty impressive.”

What was most impressive was how Amazon kicked off the second season of the concert series. The opening episode on Sept. 21 featured none other than Ed Sheeran, a global superstar who happened to be winding down from the U.S. leg of his tour and was releasing new music later that month. The show was a massive success, breaking records for the streamer and earning the most unique viewers of any Amazon Music production in a single day.

“What’s great about having Ed kicking it off, who’s obviously a massively global superstar, he, his team and his label seem to value what we can create for artists in reaching fans in different ways and the marketing value that Thursday Night Football, Amazon Music and Prime Video can bring for an artist,” Redington says.

In order to maintain those strong viewership figures, the team at Amazon Music Live went above and beyond to build a strong lineup for the remainder of the season. The series followed up with Colombian star Feid, rapper Lil Durk and a memorable showing from Metro Boomin, who was accompanied onstage by Offset and Post Malone. One big act Amazon managed to book was Mexican superstar Peso Pluma, who performed live on Oct. 19, as well as Green Day, Latto and Garth Brooks for the NFL’s first-ever Black Friday game on Nov. 24.

From hip-hop to Mexican corridos to country, it was important for the team at Amazon to deliver a diverse lineup and allow fans to not only experience new music from those artists but also interact with other viewers on Twitch, a streaming platform popular among gamers that features chat options. The Amazon Music channel on Twitch has nearly 670,000 subscribers.

“Last year, we had a bunch of great artists and this year we wanted to continue to expand the diversity of the lineup and genres,” says Andrew Sexton, principal of label relations at Amazon Music. “Last year was a lot of hip-hop and Latin. The team was looking at this year and thinking, ‘How do we bring in things people wouldn’t expect?’”

Having the legendary Garth Brooks on its show on Nov. 24 was icing on the cake for Amazon Music, which expanded its offerings this year by also streaming popular music festivals such as Camp Flog Gnaw, Primavera Sound, Head in the Clouds and Outside Lands.

“I’d stay close to what we’re doing because we have a lot of ideas moving into 2024 as to how this brand can extend and, most importantly, how to make it a great experience for both the fan and the artist,” says Redington. “I feel really good. Nothing to announce, but we’re onto something here.”