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Live-streaming goes mainstream at music festivals

Associated Press Modified: October 11, 2012 at 8:46 am •  Published: October 11, 2012

At Bonnaroo, which began live-streaming around the same time as Austin City Limits, there's been a "big increase" in views and the amount of time each user spends watching, said Jonathan Mayers, co-founder of Superfly Presents, which produces the four-day Tennessee festival.

"We've seen the average view time is over an hour in one sitting," said Chris Roach, head of business development for AEG Digital Media, which has produced live-streaming for Coachella and other open-air concerts. "That's a pretty engaged eyeball for an advertiser to put their dollar against."

Little fanfare surrounded webcasts when Bonnaroo and Austin City Limits began experimenting with it in 2006. Viewers back then were treated only to a handful of willing artists, partial sets and about eight hours a day of video. Bandwidth was an issue and the single feed was streamed exclusively through the website of a corporate sponsor.

This year, Coachella had three live-stream channels. Austin City Limits will have multiple channels, too, and the production has increasingly taken on the polish of a live television broadcast.

But not all bands remain convinced, and organizers say there are artists and labels reluctant to have their performances streamed online. Trucksess says "it's still a hurdle."

"At the end of the day, you're putting yourself out there," Trucksess said. "Are people going to watch? What if, God forbid, you mess up your lyrics or have a bad performance? Maybe that's the one time that they felt like they had a bad show."

Vasquez said he noticed himself looking "totally exhausted" after going back to watch his own performance at Lollapalooza last year. Maybe not ideal, but webcasts also create something of a historical archive. Vasquez recalled a conversation with a member of My Morning Jacket after the band's live-streamed show at Austin City Limits last year.

"He told me, 'I think this might be the best show we've ever played,'" Vasquez said. "And because it's all recorded and on YouTube, there's My Morning Jacket having the set of their entire life. That's amazing."




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