- Coca-Cola signed on as the exclusive launch partner of BeApp, a new music streaming platform that integrates gamified and social media elements into the virtual concert-viewing experience, according to an announcement.
- Over the next few weeks, the app founded by tech industry vets Ray Smith and Ross Mason will host Coke Studio Sessions, a series featuring high-profile artists like Katy Perry, Miguel, Steve Aoki and the cast of the musical "Hamilton." The 60-day initiative started last weekend with performances from Diplo, Kaskade and DJ Khaled, and new artist performances will be announced via BeApp and Coke's social channels.
- BeApp offers several features beyond streaming, including: in-app sharing, to invite friends to a livestream; a points system, where interactions reward users with an in-app currency that's redeemable for prizes like "front row seats," shout-outs from performers and merchandise; and a donation function, with proceeds benefiting the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement's efforts to combat the novel coronavirus.
With the exclusive BeApp launch partnership, Coke is looking to get in on the ground level of what's shaping up to be a major consumer trend under the pandemic. As live venues and music festivals remain shuttered through this year, artists are increasingly turning to streaming apps to keep their fans engaged, creating opportunities for platforms and marketers.
Even as shelter-in-place orders relax, many consumers may remain wary of large gatherings — meaning there could be a sustained demand for digital concert offerings. New BeApp is looking to seize on that shift toward digital performance spaces and on the uptick in social media usage that's occurred during the global health crisis.
"We know that people may feel lonely or isolated as a result of the pandemic, and Coca-Cola remains committed to uplifting the human spirit and fostering connection while we're apart," said Ricardo Fort, Coke's VP of global sports and entertainment, said in a press statement.
Coke is in some ways taking a risk on BeApp, which debuted its concert platform last week and has to contend with established services such as YouTube, Instagram, Twitch and Facebook — not to mention a variety of broader music streamers like Spotify, Pandora and Apple Music. The deal represents the types of digital experiments Coke could be investing more in as sponsorships of live sports and music are shut off and the company enacts a broader pullback on marketing and advertising spending.
BeApp is looking to drive engagement by gamifying its experience, allowing users to unlock additional features the more they interact. In accruing in-app points, users can tap into offerings like "front-row seats," which prominently display their name and photo during a virtual performance, or get a direct acknowledgment from the artist, mirroring the way viewers of Amazon's Twitch or YouTube Live get shout-outs for virtually tipping creators.
Response to BeApp appears mixed one week in. Reviews in the Apple App Store praised the concept, but several criticized what they viewed as a cluttered user interface and lag time during performances.
A slate of high-profile artists participating in the Coke Studio Sessions could be a bigger selling point for content-starved fans, and follows how other marketers have jumped on the interest around virtual concerts. Budweiser last week kicked off a live interactive concert series with YouTube. "Budweiser Rewind" focuses on more nostalgic acts like The Black Eyed Peas and encourages viewers to make song requests and ask questions of the artists via social media.
BeApp is available for free in the iOS and Android app stores, and some performances will be hosted on Coke's YouTube account as well. Re-runs of live content will also be shown within 24 hours of the initial performance, according to the Coke announcement.