The Ultra Music Festival is one of the biggest events on the North American EDM circuit, featuring acts like AfroJack, David Guetta, and Tiesto. Last year it was streamed live on YouTube, but today Ultra is announcing Twitch as its exclusive broadcast partner. The move highlights the growing competition between the two video platforms, which Twitch played up in its statement. "Ultra's decision to switch over to our platform validates Twitch as a legitimate force in the music space."
Twitch was acquired by Amazon back in August of 2014 for $970 million dollars and dominates the live streaming market for gaming. But over the last two years it has moved aggressively into live music, hosting a number of prominent electronic artists and launching a new broadcast category for performers. Last month Skrillex and Diplo uses BeatPort’s Twitch channel to unveil their Jack U project, a live stream that peaked at more than 20,000 concurrent viewers.
Live streaming as a form of media is having a moment. Meerkat just won the war for attention at SXSW and Twitter acquired Periscope, presumably so it could add broadcasting as an option on its platform. Sites like YouNow are allowing streamers to make a living chatting, eating, and sleeping on camera. The rise of smartphones and faster mobile networks means people can more easily tune at a moments notice.
Of course, as Twitch has professionalized, it has also cracked down on the use of unlicensed music. The company recently launched a library of free songs that can be used by broadcasters instead. You can get a feel for what live music is like on the service at 2pm eastern today, when The Prodigy premiers two new tracks.