Music goes live on the Web
September 4, 1997
Web posted at: 9:48 p.m. EDT (0148 GMT)
By CNN Interactive writer Donna Freydkin
If you're a fan of the band Genesis, you could have waited patiently for the group to release its new album in record stores. Or you could have fired up your computer, gone to the LiveConcerts.com Web site and watched the band launch its new album at a show at the Kennedy Space Center at the end of August.
Or perhaps you're a die-hard admirer of U2, desperate to see the band live but much less eager to shell out more than $50 to experience the Popmart tour. So why not go to U2's Popmart Web site on Microsoft Network, and hear the band perform live from Dublin on August 31st? Admission price -- zero.
If the soaring price of a concert ticket is getting you down or if you just want to enjoy your favorite bands from the comfort of your own home, don't sing the blues just yet. Just start up your computer and go to one of the sites airing multimedia webcasts -- audio and video broadcasts made available to users over the Internet.
A word of caution -- you won't find too many megastars airing their shows on the Web just yet. Most sites feature an eclectic mix of bands, ranging from the famous to the very funky. However, the roster of big-names keeps growing, as more and more performers become aware of the marketing and exposure potential of the Web.
Of major webcast sites out there, L.A. Live is the simplest to navigate and the richest in content. The site forsakes the pizzaz (and ensuing long download time) of other snazzy sites and lets its shows do the talking. Little wonder that with its rich content, the site gets between 3.5 and four million hits a month, says Chris Horvath, a partner with L.A. Live.
Horvath says the site has webcast more than 100 shows since early 1995, with an average show getting about 100,000 hits. In fact, Horvath says that as webcasts become more and more popular, musical acts both big and small are now approaching him about doing live webcasts -- mainly to reach a wider audience.
However, Horvath cautions that webcasts are not a substitute for attending a live performance.
"What we're doing will never replace the experience of going to a show, but it gives people who can't get to a show or afford a show an opportunity to see the band," he explained.
L.A. Live features a wonderfully long archive of past shows, as well as live webcasts of concerts in Real Audio format. With only three sections making up the entire site, you can't go wrong.
LiveConcerts.com also boasts a motherlode of great webcasts. It's easy navigation and hefty archive make up for the rather heavy download. In addition to its roster of shows, the site also features the archived concerts from KCRW 89.9 FM in Santa Monica, California. All the shows are viewed in Real Audio.
LiveConcerts.com aired its first Webcast in 1996, and since then has broadcast a varied stable of performers, Tina Turner to Matthew Sweet to the Tibetan Freedom Festival. The archive is easy to find and offer a handy sorting function that lets you view concerts according to your music genre preference.
Texas-based AudioNet justifiably which touts itself as the "leader in Internet broadcasting." The variety of broadcasts offered on this site can be almost staggering. The two-year-old site airs continuous live radio and TV broadcasts, sporting events, private or corporate events as well as live and on-demand concert webcasts. By the time you actually get to the archive, you'll find it a rich resource of past events and concerts encompassing a variety of musical categories. The FAQ is helpful, but every time I tried to launch it a Power Macintosh 6100, my machine crashed before the page even finished loading. However, it loaded fine on Microsoft's Internet Explorer.
For concerts, you'll have to go to Pluggedin.com, Audionet's site devoted to music, which let's you listen to CDs, concerts and radio stations. You'll be able to watch select on-demand performances, such as by artists such as Beck or Juliana Hatfield, or attend any number of live events previewed. With it's simple navigation, quick download time and attractive design, the site let's you be in total control of your home stage. You'll need to download Real Audio, Microsoft NetShow and VDO Live Player to view or hear events.
The navigation may be a bit convoluted, the graphics a tad heavy, but the big names in music offered here make the imusic site worth your time. The archive isn't very extensive, but what it lacks in quantity it makes up in quality. No Doubt, Smashing Pumpkins, Prodigy and Garbage are some of the big-name stars you'll find in the concert archive, all in Real Audio.
Some of the promos on the site, however, proved to be misleading. For example, KISS and Alice in Chains fans seeing the ads and hoping to see archived show will be disappointed. In reality, you'll find lyrics, tour dates, a show review -- everything but webcasts of their shows.
Two good sites you can also check out:
The MTV/Yahoo guide to music on the Web has Web-wide a list of upcoming net concerts featuring performances by fairly well-known acts
Sony Music: Live Online
Each week, Sony features live webcasts of several shows, which are promoted on the site, but I could not locate an archive