Music livestreaming app Sessions, founded by ex-Pandora boss, quietly shuts down

Photo credit Tim Coburn

Sessions, a live music streaming platform founded by former Pandora CEO Tim Westergren, has quietly shut down.

The platform was launched by Westergren in April 2020, about three years after the executive stepped down as the boss of Pandora. The app launched in beta in more than 200 countries and in 15 languages, allowing musicians to perform live online and make sustainable income from the comforts of their home.

“Let’s face it, digital music has failed the working musician,” said Westergren at the time of Sessions’ launch.

“Recorded music has been devalued, and digital retail is driving artists further from their audience. They need an alternative. Sessions puts control back in the hands of the artist. We generate the audience and enable artists to turn that fan base into a dependable foundation of support and direct patronage. A financial reward system driven by fandom.”

Four months after the launch, Westergren told Pollstar that artists on the platform were generating as much as $10,000 a night through their livestream performances.

The highest earners were making $500 to $700 an hour, raking in around $5,000 to $2,000 per show, the executive added.

Sessions’ monetization was purely from fans. It offered digital ticketing, where fans bought tickets for performances, and live micropayments, where fans donate to artists by a chat function called “giving love.”

The latest development was first reported by Music Ally on Friday (January 13) after spotting some LinkedIn posts by staff and comments on the company’s social media pages.

Sessions’ website is now offline and its social media pages haven’t had any updates since October 2022.

Some artists have taken to the company’s social media pages to vent about their frustrations regarding Sessions’ non-payment of revenues from shows and the app’s shutdown without providing artists warnings and refunds.

“Wow. Almost 6 months trying to get my money … first you needed to reach some levels which were out of reach, then you set the goal for 100 us. what is this? now where are you guys? Is this a real scam?> No info , and suddenly we are being robbed?” reads a comment from one artist.

Another artist on the platform, Shaun Collins, put out a video on YouTube, alleging that the app ceased operations on December 19.

“I thought it was just down for maintenance, but I messaged their Facebook and got the automated message that it had ceased operations. Like thousands of other Sessions Live Artists, my heart is broken and I am concerned for those who made their living on this platform,” says Collins.

On LinkedIn, a number of Sessions staff said they were informed that the company would be shutting down.

“Unfortunately, this morning we were informed that Sessions would be closing their doors permanently… With that being said, I am now #openforwork. I am looking for anything in event production, live production, operations, project management or any similar roles,” says Sessions’ Virtual Events Operations Manager Richard Timmermans three weeks ago.

Senior Software Engineer Len Joseph also posted around the same time that, “our company has hit difficult circumstances, and will be going out of business.”

And just last week, Data Engineer Robert Dragomir said: “Christmas came with the unexpected news that Sessions is going out of business,” while Kim Seyr, Vice President for People and Talent, said her, “short but mighty run at Sessions has concluded due to the company shutting down”.

The apparent shutdown of Sessions comes amid increasing competition in the live music space due to the popularity of platforms such as TikTok and more established YouTube Live.

These platforms have rolled out more monetization offerings for creators in their attempt to remain the more dominant players in the livestreaming space.

Music Business Worldwide