Saturday, 7 November 2009

Live Music (Coming soon to a cinema near you)

Last week, I watched This is It. While the MJ plaudits may be taken for granted, this post is not about the genius that Michael Jackson was.

It’s about how much I enjoyed the experience of watching a ‘concert’ on a large screen, eating popcorn and having the music sound better than ever before.

I love my music, and I know my music largely as a result of exposure to both licensed and unlicensed digital music.

For years now, sections of the music industry have been lamenting the loss of revenue caused by illegal music downloads. At the same time, even two years ago, reports estimated that live music revenue would overtake recorded music sales.

People like me, lucky enough to have heard of bands from the other side of the world, bands that MTV or commercial radio wouldn’t even sniff, would happily pay (or consider paying – I’m pretty sure I can’t afford U2 on most days) to see someone worth more than manufactured pop on little plastic disks.

Unfortunately though, with only practically retired rockstars (Mr. Big? Seriously?) coming to my town, I think I’d jump at the opportunity to hear my favourite music ‘live’.

Live music from the other side of the world

On November 25, fans from 16 countries tuned in to watch U2 live on YouTube. The rock group was playing to an audience of 10,000 at Pasadena, California, but 10 million online viewers were part of the show at the same time as well.

A recent Wired report talks about the increasing popularity of such live music webcasts, with players like Billboard, Sony and MySpace organising live online shows.

The report goes on to suggest how these shows, while being remarkable examples of an industry finally adopting new marketing practices, would be that much more memorable as experiences when being watched in a cinema, in a crowd, rather than as a thing between just you and your PC.

I’d fully agree.

I like Michael Jackson because he sounds good, even on my laptop speakers. I don’t need to elucidate on how amazing it was to be able to listen to his songs in surround sound. Add to it the excitement of watching what was technically a lavish stage performance, and I’d say it was Definitely Worth It.

Why can’t we have more of that?

If acts still dream of being rockstars, I’d say this is as close as they’ll get.

Of course, in no way can a show watched in the cinemas take the place of the real concert experience – of watching the bands up close, with maybe more than a little jostling, of being part of a 10,000 plus crowd.

But this could be a way for an industry to adapt, a way for audiences to acknowledge creativity and talent, and large groups to be part of a process of culture building, based around shared experiences.

It’s like when the movies started and going to the cinemas was a real event. Live concerts in cinemas could well be the beginning of a new form of entertainment, and a lucrative one at that. I'm in.

Image courtesy p4nc0np4n aka Victor. 


meera said...

i hope to see MJ at the imax this coming week :)

little green mango said...


Anonymous said...

nice thought process, even better if they remove all the chairs. may be some day we get to see live shows on a huge screen in palace grounds.

Victor Paredes said...

Thank you for posting my photo :)

little green mango said...

Thank you Victor for posting it under cc!

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