The lights come up, the crowd erupts, and jazz musician Walter Smith III steps onto the stage at Berklee College of Music in New York City. Smith III plays hundreds of gigs a year, so the sights and sound are familiar, but there is one thing about this show that’s different from all the others: it’s being recorded and streamed live over the Internet.
Live streaming of concerts is a growing trend in the music industry today, thanks to the increasing technology that’s available, according to Darren Lieberman, Senior Manager, Business Development & Music Partnerships at Livestream. Livestream, a platform that allows users to view and broadcast live video content, sells recording products to producers as well as broadcasting live shows on its website.
And despite what many may think, it’s not too difficult to stream a concert live for millions to see at home.
“At its simplest form — if you have a solid internet connection with enough bandwidth, a computer meeting our minimum specs running our free software, and a webcam, you can go live pretty instantly,” Lieberman said. “Just over the last 3-4 years we’ve seen a huge uptake in artists using live streaming. And as the technology gets even better and the costs to stream shows get lower, more and more artists will continue to jump on to the trend.”
Smith III jumped on the trend for his March 7 Berklee show, which was part of NPRMusic’s The Checkout – Live at Berklee, which brings critically acclaimed, New York-based Berklee alumni back to their alma mater for concerts to be streamed live online and on the radio.
Amy Schriefer, Sr. Product & Events Manager of NPR Music, said she also believes streaming live concerts is a trend that won’t be going away anytime soon. “As the industry changes and budgets shrink, we’re hearing from more artists that it just makes sense to do one show that reaches dozens of markets on the web and on the air,” she said. “The majority of our live webcasts are done in partnership with our member public radio stations, providing exposure on multiple platforms. The Checkout Live series, which features live jazz shows from venues, including Berklee, is aired on WBGO and webcast simultaneously on NPR Music.”
Smith III, who just released the new album found his show to be a positive experience. “It works well because people who wanted to go to the show but couldn’t can now see it. Whether they can’t make it due to distance, lack of tickets, or other reasons, this gives them a chance to see the performance.” It also doesn’t hurt that the musicians don’t have to do anything differently for the streamed shows — except maybe shorten a song or set here and there, he explained.
Lieberman echoed Smith III’s comments about these types of shows benefiting fans, but he also said they’re good for artists. “Not only is streaming a concert a way to attract new fans who may buy tickets to a future show, existing and new fans alike can follow an artist’s account on Livestream to be notified when they announce an event and go live with one. This is a great way for artists to re-engage their existing fans and stay in touch online through social media and Livestream,” he said.
While Smith III said he believes video of concerts will continue to grow, and hopes the majority of it will be aired by organizations like LiveStream and NPR who allow the artists to have “control of the content.” If such legal streaming of concerts continues to grow it may cut down on the amount of concert clips posted online that are unauthorized, he said.
As for whether or not he plans to do more live streaming shows, Williams III said he might, but certainly doesn’t want to do too many. “I wouldn’t want every concert recorded,” he explained. “One every now and then is good.”
And this one was very good. Check it out at NPR Music.