"I think 2013 is the year live-streaming concerts really starts to take off"

Michael Hamad, CT.com, 1/16/13

You can't get to a show -- tickets are too much, it's too far away, you've got kids, you're agoraphobic, whatever. But you can still catch the concert, live on your TV or your laptop, as it happens. Large-scale acceptance of the practice is not far off. Phish, The Rolling Stones, Jay-Z, Metallica and other huge acts have streamed shows, using their own elaborate web infrastructures or simply using free applications -- UStream, Daytrotter and others -- that are available to anyone. For artists, it's undeniably a huge source of revenue above and beyond actual ticket sales, as long as they have the setup to pull it off. "Couchtouring," most people seem to agree, will never replace the experience of seeing a live show. But there are advantages to staying home: there's never a bathroom line. Beer, if you remembered to buy some, is a short walk away. Parking's never an issue. And it doesn't matter where the show takes place. As long as you're awake with a WiFi connection, you can tune in. It's also different than watching an archived live performance on YouTube, DVD or a cable TV rebroadcast; you're in the moment, sharing the experience with a like-minded community on Twitter or through a website's comment widget. Tweets on #couchtour largely go silent, for example, during an incredible stretch of group improvisation, redoubling when it's over. Alone, together: so very 21st-century. So why don't more bands and venues live-stream shows, and why are the ones who do still reluctant to monetize it? "There's not really the technology that's cheap, ubiquitous and easy-to-use for this yet," Cortney Harding, a former Billboard editor, said. "What you see so far are big events -- Jay-Z presented by AmEx at Madison Square Garden -- and that takes a lot of money to handle."

Harding said bands rarely see much return on investment: the quality is too poor, or their fan bases are too small. "No company yet has come up with the technology yet that can be installed in every club, super-easy to use and cost-effective. Nobody's struck the deal yet to make that happen. [But] I think it's coming really soon. I think 2013 is the year that this stuff really starts to take off in a meaningful way."


First-of-its-kind, live-streamed Fringe Fest, with a global, interactive audience

FROM TC: Kathryn Velvel Jones, CEO of VirtualArtsTV emailed me yesterday:

Dear Thomas: Like you, I've been obsessed with how members of the theater community can take meaningful actions to combat the theater's declining audience numbers. My years of work across multiple industries have convinced me that our audiences aren't actually in decline -- they're online. The trick to reaching them is learning how to translate a live-performance experience into an online experience that is tailored to the expectations of an interactive audience. So... I am very proud to announce the WiredArts Fest, the first-of-its-kind, live-streamed performing arts festival. Think of a Fringe Festival, but online, where the audience is global, seating is infinite and viewers can participate in live chat discussions and interact through Twitter and Facebook while the performance is happening. The WiredArts Fest will feature 14 shows running in repertory over 12 days, from February 19 through March 2. Performances include Abstract Nude by Gwydion Suilebhan, Exit 12 Dance Company, Sartre's Huis Clos, Die: Roll to Proceed, Les Muses, White With Some Color, Clippings, Alice and Elizabeth's One Woman Show, S.T.A.R. Theatre, TITS, Grapefruit, The Saltwater Hotel and Words of Choice: Roe at 40. VirtualArtsTV's previous project garnered over 50,000 unique views from all over the world with viewers Twittering, Facebooking and chatting virtual standing ovations.

Ballet company seeks audience's online input for its new live-streamed work

Hannah Bricker, The Huffington Post, 1/10/13

Diablo Ballet's next piece is in your hands. Don't know the difference between a grapevine and a grand écart? No sweat. Those who can't do, tweet. The ballet company is hopping on the crowd-sourcing bandwagon and developing a piece pulled entirely from social media. Between now and February 14, the organization invites the twitterverse to post ideas for "The Web Ballet." Seven of the most interesting suggestions will be incorporated into the choreography. Tweeters have free reign over the emotions of the dancers, the mood of the piece and even specific moves for the performers. The music selection is also up for vote. The Diablo Ballet posted three potential pieces from Bach, Sibelius and Vivaldi on YouTube. The video with the most likes will score the ballet. The Web Ballet is not just a gimmick for ticket sales -- it's part of Diablo Ballet's larger efforts to democratize forgotten art forms, according Dan Meagher, the company's director of marketing: "Classical arts are not as relevant in people's lives now. Not just ballet. We're talking opera, the symphony, chorale music and museums. We are trying to make the [arts] as accessible as possible." Last March, they invited six critics to live-tweet a performance. The Web Ballet seemed like a logical extension of these efforts. So far, the twitterverse has weighed in with an eclectic array of suggestions. One user proposed a Mary Poppins-esque mood, and another suggested a Led Zeppelin-inspired piece. Meagher hopes this dialogue inspires the community to interact with ballet in a new way. "Maybe they will want to see a show after this or take a dance class," he said. "We need more exposure to the arts."


Commentary: Live-streaming backstage at opera house "fascinatingly accurate"

"Flyman" on The Stage's [UK] Backstage Whispers blog, 1/14/13

These days if you want to see backstage during a show, a quick search of YouTube will provide plenty of opportunity. Unfortunately, most of these videos consist of shaky, badly lit shots of dancers gurning at the camera and showing off their favourite costume. These videos are more of an embarrassment than an accurate picture of the skill it takes to present a show, night after night. So, for those of us who have reservations about giving away the secrets that produce the magic that audiences pay to see, the idea that the Royal Opera House was going to embark on ten hours of live streaming of its activities was greeted with mixed feelings. As it turned out, the day's programme, streamed on the websites of The Guardian, the ROH, and ACE's The Space, was a triumph. Pre-recorded interviews with members of the Youth Opera and the Thurrock Community Chorus alternated with live interviews, a model viewing, a sitzprobe, rehearsals and masterclasses. The day ended with an Act III of Die Walkure "recorded as live" with a choice of watching from backstage as edited from 21 cameras, a fixed view of the conductor or of the view from the stalls. A comment on the website before the event cynically anticipated that the impression would be as like the reality of backstage as opera is to real life. This turned out to be wide of the mark. [It was] a fascinatingly accurate glimpse of the professionalism and skill that goes into backstage work. The debate about giving away the mysteries of backstage will continue. The wider promotion of backstage as a career is good -- ill-disciplined recording in the style of the worst kind of TV reality show is not. Since we cannot put the genie back in the bottle and there seems to be an appetite for our work to be more widely recognised and understood, then the Opera House has set a standard to which all those who follow should aspire.
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