Cost, technology hinder digital concert uptake

Live concert streams great for artistes and cash-strapped concert-goers but costs of setting up and broadcasting online version of concert barriers to entry, observers note.
Written by Liau Yun Qing, Contributor

Live streaming of concerts might provide an additional stream of income for participating artistes, but the additional costs involved in setting up the required tech infrastructure as well as the people needed to produce the show online are deterrents for concert organizers and promoters.

Errol Tan, label manager at KittyWu Records, a Singapore-based independent record label, said that performing artistes are the main beneficiaries of digital concerts as it represents another source of income for them. However, concert promoters or organizers would find it more difficult to justify the hassle of opening up an online alternative to a live concert, he added.

This is because paying out such royalties to the artistes on top of the production cost and performance fees would be an additional financial risk, he explained.

"Pay-per-view would work only in the case of providing audiences an alternative to attending the actual concert due to geographic distance or conflicting schedules," the manager stated.

For an organizer to take on such a project, ensuring that the quality of the live stream is good enough would be a key concern, Tan said. Add to that, a digital concert would also require a separate video production crew, which adds to the cost.

"You'll have to think about video and editing crews. This of course means additional cost on top of the concert production."

Digital concerts "economical", but lack interactivity
From a concert-goer's point of view, though, a live digital concert has both pros and cons. Samantha Leong, who joined other fans for a live online concert by American rock band 30 Seconds to Mars last December, said that the experience was "just like being at the real thing".

In fact, because the live stream started two hours before the actual concert began, there was a feeling of anticipation in waiting for the performance to start, she noted.

"There was also bonus backstage footage of the band members, who talked about their pre-show feelings and also brought viewers on a virtual tour of their dressing rooms and tech preparations, etc," Leong said, adding that such footage would not be available if she had gone to the concert in person.

Additionally, digital concerts are more "economical and practical" for her to witness her favorite artistes perform live without having to fly to far-flung countries just to watch the concert, she stated.

That said, the quality of an online concert would depend a lot on the Internet connection, and sometimes technology can be somewhat "unreliable", she acknowledged. Leong also felt that being at a concert in person, with the physical sense of community among like-minded music-lovers, is a "vital aspect" of the live experience.

Tan concurred. He said that live streaming of concerts cannot beat being there in person, as the energy of the show and being in the crowd cannot be "translated into digital bits and bytes".

Editorial standards