From Taylor Swift to the NBA, watching live events online is the VIP way to see a show

Taylor Swift tickets can cost almost $350 in some cities, but Amazon Prime members can watch her in concert for free.
Image: BESTPIX: 2019 iHeartRadio Wango Tango Presented By The JUV?DERMAE Collection Of Dermal Fillers - Show
Taylor Swift performs onstage at the 2019 iHeartRadio Wango Tango at Dignity Health Sports Park on June 1, 2019, in Carson, California.Rich Fury / Getty Images for iHeartMedia file

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By Alyssa Newcomb

Amazon is giving its subscribers what may be the best deal they’ll ever get on a Taylor Swift concert. The ticket price: free.

On July 10, a few days before Amazon starts its 48-hour Prime Day shopping extravaganza, the company will host a livestreamed music festival for Prime members. Swift will be joined by Dua Lipa, SZA and Becky G. Last year, Amazon treated members to a concert headlined by Ariana Grande.

While the concert is one way for Amazon to increase its base of Prime members, it also represents how companies and artists are finding new ways to bring live experiences to fans.

Last year, 52 percent of the U.S. adult population attended a live music show, according to the Nielsen U.S. Music 360 report. That’s up 2 percent from the previous year.

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But attending a concert is becoming something of a luxury. Pollstar, an industry magazine, reports prices have more than tripled since 1996, when the average price was $25.81. In big cities, concert tickets are even more expensive: The average price for a top-tier ticket to a popular artist will run someone $127.57 in Los Angeles. In Grand Rapids, Michigan, a comparable ticket would cost $73.09, according to an analysis by Wanderu, an online booking company.

Even ticket resellers are thinking about how they can reach people outside of arenas.

In a blog post last November, Laukik Watve, head of engineering for ticket reseller StubHub, said his team is already exploring ways technology can bring fans “the joy of live” from home.

“Not all fans have the financial freedom or the ability to physically be present at the events and venues they love,” he wrote. “By thinking about the right streaming VR solutions, we can extend the reach of live experiences to our fans right where they are, be it in their living rooms or their own backyards.”

Fortnite tried it in February, when the game hosted a live Marshmello concert. More than 10 million gamers tuned in — and had the chance to let their avatars dance to the beat.

Virtual live events are also catching on in the sports world. The NBA on TNT streams select games and special events, such as the All-Star Game, in virtual reality.

With more than 100 million Prime members, Amazon’s concert has the potential to have a massive audience that could rival the Super Bowl. An estimated 98.2 million watched the big game earlier this year, according to Nielsen.

"I think we are just at the beginning of this trend," said Elliot Tomaeno, founder of ASTRSK PR, a public relations firm based in New York City. "Advances in technology have a lot to do with this. Live streaming technology has got much smoother, and so have people's devices and internet speeds. Live streaming to thousands, or perhaps hundreds of thousands of people even five years ago would not be as feasible as it is today."

Amazon's live concert will kick off July 10 at 9 p.m. ET.