Long have I sat quietly on expert panels or music forums when people are professing the dominance of the live performance in todays environment. The reason is you just can’t seem to convince people otherwise right now. “Then, Now, Always.” Seems to be the creed, and it is easy to see why people believe this..but I still disagree. When people talk about live performances they’re usually referring to concerts with big stages, lights, and huge crowds bursting with energy. Let’s analyze what live performance really means however.
It’s probably the longest standing tradition in music, having been around since long before recording was even possible. It’s the art of entertaining someone, and it has slowly evolved from small living room & bar room performances, to huge stadium filled spectacles with fireworks and 20 ft screens. You can thank the Beatles for the current format, which includes huge standing, screaming crowds. Before them, people usually sat down at concerts. Sometimes today performances are even coupled with advertisers and big events, like football half-time shows, or the X Games. In a sense, you could say that live performances have kind of sold out since the times of their modest roots.
Some people say that if you can’t perform live, then you shouldn’t have a career in music. Where did this crazy idea come from? First of all, if you perform amazingly on record, then you can do the same live. Think about it, a recording is a performance. Even legally speaking, when it comes to copyright law, songs played on the radio are referred to as performances. There are exceptions like if someone were amazing by themselves, but too nervous to perform on a live stage. But wait a minute, if a situation like this were to occur, is the live performance really so important that this person should give up all together? NO! and here’s why.
The live performance is a beautiful thing. It’s spontaneous and full of energy, and sometimes surprises. However let’s remember again what most people are referring to when they talk about live performances. Hint: It’s not mom playing the piano for the family. The number one reason people still go to see artists live is to get something they can’t get on an album. Some bands even perform better live, because there is way more improv. Why however, have the words Live Performance become synonymous with big stages and huge mobs? This isn’t what a live performance was “Then.” Sadly it is “Now,” but I pray it won’t be “Always.” I firmly believe that this aspect of live performances is going to be less and less important as the evolutionary process of music continues into the future.
The only thing that I believe can turn the live performance around, and back towards the direction of its early days, would be the internet penetrating deep enough into the picture to really change the perception. So why is changing the connotation of the term important? Why is it a good idea to go back to the roots of playing in one’s living room?
With the perception of a live performance being what it is, it’s no wonder that some people are scared to do it, especially those deeply sensitive enough to really make music that moves you. With a live, streaming, online concert, the spontaneity is still there, but there is more of an intimacy, leaving room for more of those vibes that leave chills down your arms. Another amazing reason is for the artists it also cuts overhead by…100%..there aren’t any insurance issues, and the artist can keep nearly 100% of the profit, while performing in the comfort of their home if they want.
Now this doesn’t mean that the show can’t still be put together with all the trimmings, like a stage and lights and pyros, and even a live crowd, but it does mean that this won’t be the only option for an artist, and in fact streaming traditional concerts as well could not only bring in more revenue for the artist, but it also has the potential to expand a band’s reach incredibly. Can’t make the show in Australia? No problem, I’ll just stream it on my phone while I’m in the car driving to see a friend across state. Favorite band not playing in your area for a year? No problem.
This makes the claim that live performances (referring to the traditional concert setting) are the most important thing an artist can do these days, completely false. The online presence is going to be the most important tool for an artist moving forward, simply because it incorporates promotion, distribution, merchandise sales, live performance, agent responsibilities, revenue management, ticket sales, and fan connectedness, all into one place manageable by one independent artist. For those of you who have heard the horrible advice by many to drop everything else and focus only on live performances, it’d be a good idea to un-hear that..and learn how to use a computer so you can leverage all of the opportunities soon to be coming your way via the internet.
Wondering what the hell these opportunities may be? Check out our Beat-Play Beta Overview and see if there’s really nothing to get excited about with the internet.
Written by: Dante Cullari Founder & President Beat-Play, LLC