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Sweet streams: How concert video is democratising the live biz

Few outside of the band’s friends and immediate family may recall them, but in June 1993, Californian band Severe Tire Damage made history of sorts by becoming the first act to stream a live performance on the internet. The Rolling Stones, often a byword for the past, followed suit in November 1994, as the first mega-act to dabble here, but Severe Tire Damage retain the bragging rights.

No viewing figures are available, but it’s safe to say in an age of dial-up and low-level PC processing, it was a handful of people watching jittery images on their computer screen.

Almost a quarter of a century on and things have changed so dramatically that anyone can broadcast live anywhere on their mobile phone using Periscope, Facebook Live or any of the other platforms that see live content as a high watermark for engagement.

The trickle effect
The story since 1993 has been one of rapidly advancing technologies, lowering costs and a detonation of the need for esoteric knowledge about computers and digital technology. Live streaming is hugely democratised and music concerts have been a very important part of that.

“The landscape has changed markedly,” says Richard Cohen, the founder and CEO of LoveLive, a long-standing player in this space and a live delivery partner now for Amazon Prime. “Live streaming for us [moved on] from something that typically required OB trucks and satellite uplinks/downlinks that were very expensive as it was multi-camera shoots. Now with the likes of Periscope and Facebook Live, it has become more of a DIY approach to live streaming and content consumption.”

“We no longer have to guess what we believe is going to work … You find out the type of content audiences are engaging with and serve up more of that”

In the early 2000s, some companies were hoping concert streaming could be a subscription-based premium offering, but that was all blown apart in October 2009, when YouTube, back then a relatively new platform, streamed U2’s show from the Rose Bowl in LA, live and for free. It then went on to stream major festivals like Coachella (offering 360° broadcasts for the past two years) and awards shows like the Brits. Since last year, it has allowed creators to stream live via their mobile devices, lowering the barrier of entry to anyone with over 1,000 subscribers to their channel.

“The technology is democratising things and now more and more people can do it – and they are taking a range of approaches to what they live-stream,” says David Mogendorff from YouTube’s music partnerships team. “The beauty of mobile live is that it brings that moment to your audience that you have built around other VOD


Read the rest of this feature in IQ 72:


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