DMV Music Alliance

Is there a business in webcasting for local venues and artists?

How much time would I need to to convince anyone in the concert business that the game has changed? Just one word is all that should be needed, COVID. The billion dollar questions on everyone’s mind are what are the new rules and what is a winning strategy?

What do we know so far?

  • We know that a multitude of forces and restrictions have acted on all of us, and we cannot predict when or if “normal” as we knew it will ever return. This includes the ability to fill a venue to its former capacity on a consistent basis.
  • We know that even in isolation, people crave cultural connections. For many, listening to or making music is a spiritual practice they cannot live without and stay sane.
  • We know that to our delight and benefit, though with varying degrees of success, many have tried to harness the power of the television studio technology in our pockets.
  • We also know that the large artist management companies have been leveraging their global resources to develop online concert platforms for their top artists, though again, with varying levels of success.

What we don’t know is how many times COVID or it’s mutations will shut venues down again or restrict ticket sales.

While many artists have been doing online shows during the lockdown, only a few have been financially or technically successful at it, mainly because of a lack of resources and strategies.  OTOH, we’ve also heard about relatively unknown artists for whom the stars aligned to give them thousands of paid attendees for a super low budget online show.

Theatrical companies have recognized the opportunities that webcasting presents, such as offering affordable ticketed admission to a much wider audience, and globally branded marketing & recognition. Locally owned music venues can realize the same opportunities, with the added advantage of attracting artists to play at venues that do it well.

Any venue can throw up a couple of cameras in a venue and take a house mix from the board and go live for very little money, but this format puts this audience outside looking in with visual production just above surveillance quality and not hearing an optimal mix. The show is not being performed for them, they are in the observation room. Doing a compelling webcast that consistently sells tickets requires a bit more intention, planning, and investment. There are different levels of webcasting production that positions the online audience somewhere between being on the stage and looking in through a window from the alley.

Here’s an interesting question- if you have a venue with a capacity of 800 and you’ve sold it out, but you’ve sold 5000 online tickets, who is the show’s primary audience?

Let’s start a town hall conversation about proactively developing the future for local venues and artists – stay tuned to the DMV Music Alliance website for announcements about this. In my next post I’ll explore the different levels of production, the different impressions they can have on ticket buyers, and the unique ticketing options that venues and artists can offer.

About the author:

Marty Atias is the owner of ATS Communications in Silver Spring, MD. and is an avid supporter of the DMV Music community. Marty has been a broadcast engineer since 1974 with time spent building and working in television, radio, and recording studios, and in live production. He is currently consulting for clients on digital strategies, designing and installing sound and video in-room systems and for interactive webcasting. Marty is a member of an international group of engineers developing the infrastructure for global interactive conferencing, webcasting, and event production.

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Marty is an engineer who's career spans radio & television broadcasting, NYC recording studios, live show production, sound & video systems design & integration.

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