Amazon calls the tune with launch of its own pop concerts
Amazon left a trail of boarded-up bookshops and music retailers in its wake as it revolutionised the way we shop online. Now it has the live music industry in its sights.
The online giant has launched a live music business in the UK, running and promoting its own gigs exclusively for Amazon Prime customers in an attempt to attract more people to the premium subscription service.
Customers who pay £79 a year or £7.99 a month for Amazon Prime services, including online video and same-day delivery, will be able to buy tickets to exclusive London performances by artists such as Blondie, Alison Moyet and Katie Melua this summer.
The tickets for the events don’t come cheap. A ticket to see Blondie perform at the Round Chapel in Hackney on May 23 will set you back £150.
However, the performances will also be filmed and made available later globally on Prime Video, Amazon’s international film and TV service.
The launch of Prime Live Events is the latest initiative by Jeff Bezos, the billionaire founder of Amazon. His company began life as an online bookseller in 1995 and has morphed into a behemoth with interests in everything from groceries to space travel.
Hugh Fletcher, head of innovation at the Salmon, the digital consultancy, said the live music industry should be worried as the world’s largest online retailer dips a toe into its waters.
“It’s just more evidence of Amazon’s aggressive expansion into almost every single touchpoint of customers’ lives,” Mr Fletcher said. “If you can own every single touchpoint you also own the data [around each purchase] and then you own the future of what services you provide. They are both sinister and incredibly clever.”
The industry body UK Music said that live music is worth close to £1 billion a year to the British economy.
To combat touts, Amazon is limiting tickets to two per customer and no physical tickets will be sent out. Photo ID will be required as proof of identity to gain entry and tickets won’t be transferable or refundable, but can be purchased as a gift for someone else.
If the strategy is successful it could be expanded to other international markets. Amazon already has its own ticket agency, which started in the UK two years ago and is expected to be launched in the US soon.
Amazon is notoriously secretive about its business model but analysis by Salmon has found that an estimated 40 per cent of online spend in the UK is through the company. It is estimated that there are about 5 million Amazon Prime subscribers, with almost 4 million users of its video service.
The company has invested billions in film and TV shows, including The Grand Tour, the motoring show starring the former Top Gear presenters Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond.
Globally, IHS Markit estimates that Amazon has about 80 million subscribers to Prime — almost 50 million of those in the US, its home market.
Shares in the company hit an all-time high last month after it posted results for the first three months of 2017 that beat all financial forecasts, driven largely by its Prime media streaming services and advertising revenue. Subscription sales were up 49 per cent in a year to $1.9 billion.
Mr Fletcher said: “What Prime has done is increase the amount we spend via Amazon. The amazing thing is they haven’t even fully gone into the main retail sectors yet.
“They are kind of going into food and household products now but it’s not that mature, so when they corner those markets the potential impact is absolutely huge, and that has massive repercussions for big brands and retailers.
“How are organisations going to retain a relationship with customers? Will everything just be bought through Amazon?”