Performer Az Samad experiences video streaming technology first-hand and shares his experience.
Imagine being in your living room. You’re holding a cup of coffee and there you are in your pyjamas. You’re comfortably nestled on your couch and everything is perfect. In front of you is your laptop set to full screen view.
On the screen is your favourite artiste tuning up a guitar. Soon, you’ll be watching a live concert, from your home.
This feels like television but instead of watching passively, you type in comments and song requests. Other fans just like you are doing the same thing from their homes.
In your own space, your love for music has connected you to the artiste and fans worldwide even if you’re not at the concert venue. At some point, the artiste mentions you and your song request by name. It feels like you’re there!
Welcome to a live streamed concert.
This is part of the future of music. But, before we look ahead… Let’s start at the beginning.
On June 25, 1967, the television production, Our World became the first live, international, satellite television production. This show was broadcast live to two-thirds of the world. An estimated 400 million people watched this show that featured The Beatles, opera singer Maria Callas, and painter Pablo Picasso. Television was still in black and white.
I wasn’t born yet. The first live telecast I remember was Live Aid on July 13, 1985. Organised by Bob Geldof and Midge Ure to raise funds for the Ethiopian famine, the event was held at Wembley Stadium in London, England, and John F. Kennedy Stadium in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States. I remember clearly how epic it felt to hear the artistes sing ‘We are the world’ in harmony. I was among the 1.9 billion people who watched the broadcast.
It was the era of grand television productions and I experienced it first-hand.
Life casting: the connection between life streaming and live streaming music concerts
On the flip side of this, something else was brewing. Around the 1980s, researcher and inventor Steve Mann was experimenting and developing wearable camera technology.
In a nutshell, he started wearing a camera on his body at all times. This led to what became to be known as life-casting. Everything was coming together in a very gradual manner. Soon, these developments would intersect.
Enter the Internet
With the development of affordable high speed Internet, video streaming technology and the cost of computers going down - these have made live streaming technology accessible to the general public. Instead of just communicating one-on-one via Skype, musicians can now broadcast their performances worldwide. The requirements can be as basic as a webcam, USB microphone, laptop and fast Internet connection. Then, you just have to choose a website or platform to broadcast from. There are many different websites that offer live streaming services.
Livestream is one of the current popular live streaming services. According to their website, more than 30 million viewers each month watch thousands of live events on the site. It is used by Malaysian indie musicians such as Narmi, Bihzhu and Reza Salleh to broadcast their live performances. Besides Livestream, other popular websites offering live streaming include Ustream, Justin.tv, Veetle and YouTube.
Live stream the Malaysian way
Recently, I was a part of a show organised by singer-songwriter Reza Salleh. Called Moonshine: Online, it’s was a spin-off from Reza’s Moonshine live show series that has been running for eight years. Moonshine: Online featured a round-robin format where four artistes each take turn to perform a song.
All this happened in the Laundry Bar at The Curve in Petaling Jaya. The twist was that as the Moonshine:Online concert happened in real time, it was live streamed at the very same time as well. Forty six years later from the very first live telecast of Our World, independent Malaysian musicians can do the same thing.
Among the first musicians to embrace online streamed concerts in the Malaysian indie music scene was singer-songwriter Narmi. This was made possible via collaboration with Dream Rocketeers, an artiste development agency. A key person in this endeavour was Remy J of Dream Rocketeers.
According to Remy J, “We started doing online stream concerts with Narmi as a way to reach out to fans who are not able to come catch our live shows as they live abroad or elsewhere in the world.”
Later on, Malaysian vocalist Bihzhu also decided to start her own series called #CribConcert. According to Bihzhu, “I was definitely inspired by Narmi! He was doing such a good job with his live streams, and it made me aware that here was a brand new way of reaching a brand new audience, especially in this era of high Internet literacy.”
Both of them noted that worldwide audiences have tuned in to their live streams. Remy J said, “We realized that we have fans all the way in Brazil!” Bihzhu noticed that her audience, were “from different parts of Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines, the United Arab Emirates, Australia and the United Kingdom.“
In addition to the viewers worldwide, Bihzhu also performs to a new live audience each time. Her take on the concept includes taking on a different host and venue for each of her #CribConcerts.
“Because each #CribConcert has a different host, and they in turn invite their own circle of friends, I've had an opportunity to engage with a completely different demographic every month, and that to me, is very valuable, because I'm meeting people I otherwise might not have had the chance to meet.”
See you online
Reflecting on this, I’ve found that live video streaming is definitely an avenue worth exploring for the modern musician. It opens up the possibility of connecting with fans from all around the world, potentially growing your audience as well as becoming a new platform for your music performance. It’s potentially more exciting than a YouTube video - since it’s more interactive for the audience and performer. Also, unlike mainstream television or media, the Internet allows anyone with the right resources to basically have your own television channel directly to your fans.
Although I still feel a strong affinity for catching live performances, I feel a live streamed concert has its benefits of. So, even if you don’t feel like a night out, do check out what’s on the Internet. See you online.
Fingerstyle guitarist AzSamad had so much fun with Moonshine: Online that he’s inspired to start one of his very own live stream shows soon. Stay tuned.