Sessions (also known as Sessions Live) seemingly shut down without informing any of the streamers on the platform. The livestreaming app launched a few years ago with the hopes of competing as a gamified, music-only site.
But near the end of December 2022, streamers suddenly lost access to their accounts. Many began posting on the platform's social media accounts asking about the money they were still owed for past performances.
The shutdown shares eerie similarities with Hover, which recently shut down without a word to users in early January. Unlike Hover, however, Sessions' co-founding team included industry vet and Pandora Radio co-founder Tim Westergren.
The Rise Of Sessions
Sessions formally launched in April 2020 during the early months of the pandemic, though the platform had its roots in a previous app known as Next Music (founded by Gordon Su in January 2018). In fact, we covered Sessions in our RootNote Blueprint discussing different ways to build better relationships with your fans and earn more. (Looks like we'll be updating that ASAP).
When it launched, co-founder Tim Westergren told Rolling Stone that his primary goal with Sessions was to help artists earn money. The platform even committed to actively marketing artists on the platform on their behalf, working to drive up viewership and support.
In fact, the company even paid some artists just to hop on the platform and give it a shot. While some of the other platforms seemingly devalue music and the musicians who make it, Sessions seemed poised to put an artist's financial success front and center. And in fact, the app did a pretty good job of cultivating an international base of viewers.
The only problem? That monetization piece started to feel a lot more like a game where artists had to reach benchmark in order to get paid. And then once they did, they usually waited around six weeks just to get their money.
The Fall Of Sessions
On December 19, 2022, Sessions shut down. The move came as a big surprise to many streamers, including musician Shaun Collins, who posted a YouTube video asking what happened. The website is no longer operational and the company's social media profiles haven't updated anything since October in most cases.
Employees also seemingly received word of the shutdown around the same time as streamers. With a fairly large community of streamers and viewers, that means a lot of people were left with questions.
Sessions updated their payment structure multiple times, but seemingly never left anybody high and dry when it came to payments. That all changed when the company shut their doors with essentially no notice.
What This Means
For starters, it's a major bummer. We always root for platforms that aim to help creators monetize their art and content. But beyond that, it's disheartening to see a platform with a pretty large operations apparatus and people who should know better end up doing something like this. As we said, it's a different beast from the Hover shutdown because there was seemingly a lot more skin in the game. But two sites in a short amount of time, well, sucks.
Westergren, Su, or somebody from the leadership team of the company needs to come forward and explain what happened to the streamers and their fans. It's not hard to imagine given the economics of livestreaming, but it needs to be said nonetheless.
More importantly, artists need to know what's going on with all those unpaid earnings they accrued. Westergren said at one point that some of the bigger artists were earning between $5,000 and $20,000 per stream. But many of the artists who were probably owed money likely made a lot less than that — and there were probably a lot more of them.
If streamers don't hear from the company soon, we expect to hear a lot more noise about where that money went. In the meantime, Twitch and YouTube continue to be the only resilient livestreaming platforms around that seem worth investing significant energy and time into.