By: Eric Haftel
Imagine going home after a long day of work, opening your laptop and watching a free, live concert while you lie in bed. This is a new reality to many fans of bands out there.
This reality is because, in the wake of the economy bands are having a harder time going out and playing as many shows and tours as they used to. It used to be that when you’re in a band, you’re touring or you’re in the studio. Now bands need to take time off and raise the funds to go back out on the road, and when they are out on the road, there are fewer fans who come out. Not only are the bands strapped for cash but the fans that want to go now have to pick and choose when to spend the few extra dollars they have. Because of this, bands have found another way to still play for their fans but also save up cash; playing through a video screen online.
With websites such as Ustream
bands now have the opportunity to do live performances while spending no money at all. Even better, not only do bands get to play live songs to fans, they can also speak with their fans online.
Stickam describes itself as, “the pioneers of the live interactive web broadcasting space and home to the largest live community online.”
According to Ustream’s site, “Ustream’s mission is to bring people together around shared interests for amazing live, interactive experiences that build and maintain relationships.”
Between the two sites, there are over 10 million registered users and they get over 15 million unique visitors a month.
While there are some obvious positives to this new technique of performance, there are also some negatives that bands are debating over.
who is a solo artist and has done various tours in his career is adamant that online performances are the wave of not only the future but also the present.
“Every Monday I do a stickam chat
and I get 2,000 people every Monday. For me to play in front of 2,000 people on a tour it would take me probably like three weeks. I’m comfortable, it’s cost friendly for both sides and it’s fun. I’m a big believer in social networking and that’s where peoples attention is,” Melillo said.
Shaun Soho who is the lead singer of the Universal Record signed band, Crash Midnight
also has some positive thoughts but knows of the negative side as well.
“I’d say the biggest difference between true live and live online is you lose the interaction with the audience. Live online has more in common with a music video.
It’s great promo and great to bring a band’s live performance environment to the attention of fans but it’s less of an experience. For Crash Midnight, we’ve always focused any videos we did on the live band performance rather than any grandiose story line, so something with ustream or a music video would be pretty similar from our side.”
Soho went on to say that, “A live performance is just a different animal, so I don’t know if you can really compare them in that sense. I’d say it’s a good tool just like a music video is a good tool. It’s a little less produced in one-way than a music video is, but it’s definitely not comparable to actually being in the venue from my perspective”
Bo, who plays bass in Soho’s band, had this to say: “I look at online concerts kind of like phone sex …it’s good enough for some people, but I prefer the real thing.”
Aaron Bonus who is the lead singer of a nationally touring band named Westland
has used this new way of reaching fans as well and has found there to be both negative and positive.
“I’ve only used ustream to date
, but as in everything there are positives and negatives. The positives are people are more willing to watch you from there home and it doesn’t cost money for travel, or a ticket. It’s how you capture what we call the lazy fan. The ones that are unwilling to do more then view all online things dealing with your band and never come see you live at a club. So online through ustream or youtube you might have thousands from the same city that tune in or view what you post but are only playing to a hundred kids when you show up in there city at a club.”
Bonus went on to say, “The negatives are the personal connection is gone, as a artist you can’t make money on merchandise or for performance to support yourself. I think not seeing your favorite band in person, at an arm length away is kind of sad. In my mind I wouldn’t be who I was if I didn’t go see bands live. However, the fact is its just another great tool, like many others making playing music more affordable, and allowing a stronger reach across more territory in a short time span.”
While the clear cut positive is the availability to anyone and the cost effectiveness, fans and bands lose that sense of intimacy and excitement of a live event. More then likely this will be something that will evolve but don’t expect to stop seeing tours in your area. If you have a choice, see it live!
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