Okay, I was skeptical of this concept when it first came out. Why would I want to watch a show online when I could go out and see one live? I still feel that what I love most about the live performance simply cannot come across through a video camera. I also feel that having a show streaming for all to see really takes something away from the people lucky enough to be there. But as I sit here giddy in my office chair watching my fave Chicago rockers, Empires, stream a performance live on www.audiotreemusic.com, I realize that I am slowly becoming a convert to these computer concerts.
Watching Empires rock out in a studio actually marks the third time I’ve sat in front of my computer to hear “live” music just in the past week or so. For the past several Sundays fellow Philly to LA transplant, George Stanford has broadcast live from his home, playing requests, chatting with anyone who comes into the chat room or just…talking. Also last week 2/3rds of TFDI, Matt Duke and Tony Lucca, did some video hobnobbing mixed with a few live tunes (again, mostly requests).
What I like about the current state of live music streaming is that is has evolved beyond a simple transmission of a concert. I’m watching Empires performing in a studio, something that would be nearly impossible in any other circumstance. I find myself excited to hear the band’s answers to questions ranging from the typical (what album has inspired you), the more interesting (describe being out on the road in two words), to the absurd (what color and shape would you be). I would be far less titillated by a previously recorded video, similar in nature. With the live stream, I feel an energy akin to watching a sporting event. I find myself anxious. What song will they play next? How silly will the next question be? How will everyone respond??
The unedited band interaction is also something that has previously been unique to a live concert experience. One of the reasons I love acts like TFDI, almost as much as the music itself, is the interaction between the artists. Seeing Tony and Matt’s playful banter as they respond to questions and play tunes captures an element of a live show that you don’t often get in a recording. The immediate fan to musician contact is also unique and exciting. Even at a live show you’re not going to get a hello from Tony’s adorable daughter, Sparrow, or Matt’s equally adorable, visually challenged cat. The chat service also connects fans from all over as they debate the best tune or live show while their favorite musician sings away.
So where is this all going? While I think that streaming live shows or having live chats with your favorite artists is veeery far away from replacing the actual event, I hope that it doesn’t deter people from going out and actually experiencing the music. I had someone remark recently that they were much happier watching Lady Gaga from the comforts of their home with their XL TV screen and surround sound than they would have been seeing the spectacle from a distance dealing with the crowds and the traffic. All this live streaming of major concert festivals like Coachella and Lollapalooza has allowed many people from all over the world to “attend” these events, but I’ve heard from avid concert goers that they now feel they never need to go to a festival again. Remarks like these concern me…
Another thing I’m unsure about is the new trend of having artist charge money for a “private” live show via the computer. Tickets for an online event? Really? Hrrrmm…. While I feel that this venue is great for getting the word out the about who you are and what you do, and I appreciate the artists’ ingenuity in finding a way to use technological advances to make money, I know I’m certainly not at the point where I’d be willing to pay for such an experience. I think asking for donations or whatnot is great, but I hope I never find myself wanting to buy a ticket for an online show. I just see this going down a terrifying path into the depths of the haunted woods; dark shadows, spooky sounds, etc. etc. Maybe when I’m once again living in a music wasteland or in another year when selling tickets for online shows becomes the norm, I’ll change my tune, but for now, call me unnerved.
As long as it’s free and easy, however, I think I’m becoming a fan of these live events. While I would much prefer Empries’ front man, Sean Van Vleet, singing in my face and getting the opportunity to have a brief one-on-one conversation with guitarist/producer, Max Steger, after a show, I’d take this over nothing at all. Especially considering that the band is from Chicago and does not travel out to Los Angeles that often. I’m getting to hear new songs, I know which band member likes The Smashing Pumpkins and which considers himself a diamond…who likes to answer ridiculous questions and really who just wants to be out on the road…I find myself wishing more of my favorite bands, especially those stuck in distant cities, would do things like this (Philly bands do you hear me?).
While I’m still getting to know what sites are best for streaming and which bands put on the most ridiculous shows, here are a couple on my radar. I’m hoping to use this as another new way to both promote and discover great new music! Let me know if you have any suggestions…
Sites that offer live streaming:
http://www.audiotreemusic.com/audiotree_live.html (where I just watched the Empires set)
http://www.vokle.com/ (where Tony and Matt conducted their chat with the help of Rockridge Music)
http://www.facebook.com/GeorgeStanfordMusic?sk=app_142371818162 Livestream where George Stanford plays some Sunday afternoons at 3pm
http://www.ustream.tv/ (where Chris Wilson of Endoxi hosts his Wilson Wednesdays: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/wilson-s-room#utm_campaign=www.facebook.com&utm_source=8134646&utm_medium=social
http://www.justin.tv/ (where I was once caught singing back up on stage…thinking it was just to the friends I had in the small room…ha)
ALSO where San Diego music guru Lauren Scheff (ScheffXP) often streams. Monday nights with the incredibly entertaining Kevin Martin. (http://www.justin.tv/scheffxp)
because I couldn’t resist: