Just Like Being There: The Economics Of Livestreaming Concerts

This gets back to our original question: Why watch something live over the internet? Haot has a illustrative story. "When we do the red carpet of a movie," he explains, "we start the stream even three hours before the red carpet goes, and it's just a camera looking at people setting up a fence and whatever," and yet this is typically when the bulk of the audience tunes in—long before anything's actually happening. They are choosing to watch the boring parts, the parts before and between the main event. Why? "It's about being there," says Haot. "Most people would prefer to be there, right? Whether they're watching a concert or a game, it's not as good as being physically there, but it's the closest thing... The reason people want and are watching a live stream is not because they need a quick summary of what happened. They want to be part of the experience. They want to feel like they are at the event."

In the end, then, it turns out to be fairly simple. People want to feel like they're there, wherever "there" is, without ever having to actually go anywhere. Companies like YouTube and Livestream are happy to give them that illusion if it make some money in the meantime, and the artists and venues are happy for the additional exposure, which comes with a faint promise of future revenue for them as well. The Iridium's Strum sums up this line of thinking neatly, explaining that live streaming "engenders more loyalty, in all of the world. When [people] wanna go see music in New York, they'll probably come to Iridium, because Iridium is how they're watching their music." Should the music-consuming public be happy for another way for artists and labels to prop up their ever-more-shaky business models, especially if it enables the increasingly couch/mobile- device-bound lifestyle of the vast majority of Americans? It's hard to say now, but given the ubiquity of streaming video options and the industry's investment in them, it seems we'll have plenty of time to think about it.

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