Why Bandsintown Integrated Stream Chat Into Its New Live Stream Service, Bandsintown PLUS

The Stream Chat API powers live chat for Bandsintown PLUS, a new live stream within the popular music discovery platform.

Problem: The music discovery platform Bandsintown required a feature-rich chat functionality to add to their new live streaming concert platform, Bandsintown PLUS.

Strategy: Bandsintown knew buying a chat solution was a better option than building one in-house. Already a Stream Feeds customer, Bandsintown used the Stream Chat Android SDK to integrate Stream Chat in less than three months.

Result: Bandsintown PLUS users now enjoy a high-performance, feature-rich live chat experience powered by Stream during concert broadcasts and artist Q&As.

Bandsintown, the music discovery platform with over 60 million site users, has long used Stream to power its web and mobile activity feeds and notification feeds. Designed to keep fans in the know about upcoming live music events, the feed functionality enables users to receive personalized concert alerts and new-music recommendations.

Bandsintown’s feature-rich platform also enables artists to reach their fans by promoting tours, album releases, limited merchandise, and more. In 2020, when live music events were paused, Bandsintown started developing its own live stream product. Launched in January 2021, Bandsintown PLUS is an all-access pass to exclusive live stream concerts. Each month, users can attend up to 25 live streamed concerts with emerging and established artists like Phoebe Bridgers, Fleet Foxes, Tycho, and many more.

Rather than use a third-party live stream tool such as Twitch or Facebook Live to host Bandsintown PLUS concerts, the company built their own custom platform that provides a rich live music experience for viewers, and a professional performance environment for artists.

Bandsintown turned to Stream to support the platform’s live chat functionality. “We needed to have engagement. In the industry of live streams, chat is a must-have,” says Jesse Ridgway, VP of product development at Bandsintown.

Why Bandsintown PLUS Integrated Stream’s Chat API

Bandsintown was already a Stream Feeds customer, with the notification feed in particular driving significant platform engagement. Bandsintown required a chat solution for their PLUS service — and fast. It was a clear decision to add Stream Chat because Bandsintown already had a solid relationship with Stream’s customer success team.

“Time to market was a big consideration for us, and from our perspective, Stream was an obvious choice,” says Ridgway, who estimates it took Bandsintown developers around two and half months to fully integrate Stream’s chat API using the Android Chat SDK and Chat UI Kit for front-end components. “For the most part, we used the out-of-the-box options Stream provided, with minor variations such as theming,” says Ridgway.

During the integration process, Ridgway’s developers received the support they needed via a shared Slack channel with Stream to add reliable and scalable chat functionality.

How Chat Improves the Bandsintown PLUS Experience

Bandsintown leverages Stream Chat to allow their viewers to engage with each other — and even with performing artists — in a live stream platform. Most Bandsintown PLUS concerts take place in dedicated studios in music-centric cities such as Los Angeles, Nashville, and New York.

Currently, chat is an opt-in feature for Bandsintown PLUS audience members. When users enter the platform to see a concert, they either start watching the concert immediately or actively choose to participate in a conversation with other viewers. Roughly 35-40% of viewers opt-in to the chat experience to express excitement about their favorite songs with custom messages, reactions such as “claps,” and other emoticons. Users can also participate in post-concert artist Q&As. In a recent hour-long live stream performance from Los Angeles-based alternative rock band Wallows, the chat drew over 18,000 messages.

Live stream chat doesn’t just enrich audience engagement opportunities for Bandsintown PLUS. It also helps recreate a musician’s experience of performing in front of a live audience. In each Bandsintown studio performance, concert organizers place a monitor behind the artist that displays realtime chat messages and reactions from audience members viewing the performance from across the globe. “The biggest feedback we’ve gotten up to this point is that artists really miss an actual reaction from their fans … it’s kind of awkward when you finish a great rock song, and then it’s crickets,” says Ridgway. With that in mind, he’s now thinking about how cool it would be to simulate an applause based on the amount of reactions a song receives.

What’s Next for Bandsintown PLUS

In the future, Ridgway plans to experiment with the chat functionality by removing the opt-in requirement and automatically displaying the chat box to viewers. This way, Ridgway can better identify how and if the chat impacts audience behavior shifts, and whether the chat feature has a measurable impact on audience satisfaction.

A music lover himself, Ridgway hopes live concerts will make a widespread comeback in 2021. But he doesn’t believe streaming concerts will go away. Bandsintown PLUS will remain an important product offering for their millions-strong community of fans.

Interested in learning how Stream’s chat API can help your company integrate scalable, reliable chat functionality into your own software product? Activate your free Stream Chat trial today to start building with unrestricted functionality.