15 Comments

Summary:

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 […]

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.

Foo Fighters FacebookBut 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.

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  1. This is fantastic. Think about it – never before has an artist been able to simply set up a concert broadcast to the world from the comfort of their own studio, to not only provide some phenomenal entertainment, but also to promote their greatest hits album. What’s not to like about this? And no middle man.

    Not sure why you are making your point about ads – clearly they could have landed a sponsor if they wanted to, but my guess is that the Foo fighters have no interest in corporate sponsorship. There are many artists who would work with sponsors, and there are means for wrapping brands around the video player, so not sure whether there’s a question at all.

  2. Liz – I think you’re spot on, enough with video being a loss leader, some freakin’ ads would be nice. Have you guys ever done a calc (or seen any guesstimates) of what % of online video goes unsponsored?

    1. I haven’t seen a guesstimate, beyond the stuff about YouTube monetizing 1B views a week (safe to say less than a quarter of what they get).

      @Frank – It’s not that I’m not grateful for the power of live streaming, I just think it would be valuable to set a precedent so more of this stuff can happen.

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  4. Davis Freeberg Friday, October 30, 2009

    I think that you might be missing the point. The Foo Fighters sell music for a living, the more people who hear their music the more they tend to sell, hence the concert itself is an ad for Foo Fighters. I bet they not only sell more albums, but see concert opportunities open up and mechandise sales increase as well. They can spam it all out with a punch of cheap logos or they can keep it clean and win over fans. I think they made the smarter business decision by keeping their brand as the sole focus. As media gets cheaper and cheaper to produce, we’ll see more examples of things like this. You can give away the content for free when you have alternative revenue sources to support it.

    1. @Davis – Great points but I’d wager that everyone here understands the Foo Fighters’ business and why they might choose to do an ad-free concert. Also known is how decreasing costs have made video increasingly viable as both a loss leader and a promotional tool. The point being made was that viewers are increasingly/frequently/overwhelmingly? consuming ad-free video and that obviously raises concerns among those who see video as a monetizable product unto itself and who are anxious for the video ad business to mature a bit.

  5. Noam Lovinsky Friday, October 30, 2009

    Maybe they don’t have the technology to insert ads in a live stream. It’s certainly not available on every live streaming platform.

  6. I suspect it would cost more to sell the ads than they would make in revenue anyway.

  7. I noticed that Livestream.com had an Iphone viewing url last night too. http://iphone.livestream.com

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