Free live music concerts? Sign me up. Here, there and seemingly everywhere, acts like Dave Matthews Band, Weezer and U2 are streaming live concerts on video sites like Hulu, YouTube and Ustream. Tonight is the latest edition: Foo Fighters on Livestream. You’ll be able to tune in at 7 p.m. PT to watch a free show of the band’s greatest hits performed from their own studio in Los Angeles. The live feed will be featured on both Facebook and Livestream, and you can update your Twitter and status message update alongside the concert.
But I have to ask, where is the business model for these shows? The music industry, after all, is well known for its trouble grappling with the shift to digital. It wants to keep charging us for formats we don’t want to buy anymore. Here we are, introducing a whole new category of music product, and there’s been little more than a Google text ad monetizing any one of these examples. Granted, inserting ads into live recordings may be a little bit more complicated than for your standard web video, but when we’re talking 10 million views, it’s time to get a major sponsor, or at least link in real-time to where to buy an MP3 of the song that’s playing. Live concert audiences are an amazing monetization opportunity. Lots of people engaged for long periods of time simultaneously? You couldn’t ask for more. And we watchers don’t mind, we’re getting free music from our favorite bands (well, our favorite bands of the 90s).
One thing the Foo Fighters are doing right for tonight’s show is asking fans to RSVP for the event. I don’t think that registration is a requirement for access to the free stream, but it’s a boatload of fan Facebook accounts for the band to harness — nearly 12,000 have already signed up. Livestream CEO Max Haot reports that the Foo Fighters cleared the rights to the concert on their own — which alone is impressive considering they’ve accumulated nearly 15 years of greatest hits.
Haot said the show is going to be incredibly cheap to produce, with a 3-camera production handled by Livestream. There will be no overt monetization except to drive interest in the Foo Fighters new greatest hits album. And the show will be available internationally to anyone who can stream it around the world.