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Musical Space

Musical Space: Streaming Live Concerts


As always, I’ve been fretting over the state of live music, and I think I’ve found a way that maybe the internet can help. Concerts are not new to the internet, of course. NPR’s All Songs Considered, for instance, has its excellent Tiny Desk Concert series. But these are just recordings.

There’s something more valuable and urgent about hearing a concert truly live. Like watching a basketball game, there’s more drama while its happening, unedited, with no way of knowing how it will end. Internet bandwidth has now widened enough for live concerts in real time, and a few start-ups are offering to make this a reality. One such site is StageIt.com, which hosts about a dozen concerts a day.

StageIt seems to value the evanescence of live music. None of the shows are recorded for later broadcast, and the audience size is limited. Nothing is given out for free. Though certainly not as good as being in the same room as the artist, it might in the end be more intimate than seeing their face on the Jumbotron at a hockey arena. Most of the streamed concerts I’ve seen were broadcast from the musicians’ living rooms. With real-time chat there is a lively Interaction between performer and audience. Though ticket prices start at just 10 cents, viewers who like the performance can add money to a tip jar. Often the most generous tipper will win a free CD or t-shirt.

Venues have been slow to invest in video equipment, but some are starting to get into the act: clubs like New York’s Villiage Vanguard, and even the Metropolitan Opera and the Berlin Philharmonic.

I’m hopeful that this technology will enhance, rather than diminish, live music. Because, while it”s easy pirate music, it”s difficult to pirate an experience.