What happens when two Harvard grads find themselves feeling the toll of being starving musicians? They find opportunity, of course. And in the case of the founders of Concert Window, they turn their creative juices to technology to create the nation’s first live, streaming concert network.
“We’re musicians and we realized two things: 1) It’s really hard for musicians to make a living, so how can we use the Internet to help? and 2) We love live music, and why isn’t there a good, easy way to watch live concerts online?” explained co-founder Dan Gurney. Gurney, by the way, is also a 6-time U.S. Champion on the Irish Button Accordion (just had to put that out there before moving on!).
Did not knowing code stand in their way? Absolutely not. Gurney taught himself CSS and PHP. He built Concert Window from idea to the site you see today that launched just over a month ago – a site that’s enjoying 10,000+ pageviews already, and with only 1 venue signed on. It helps that the venue is the legendary folk venue in Harvard Square where Bob Dylan used to play (Club Passim). The company recently on-boarded another classical music venue, and is in talks with several more.
In terms of monetization, Gurney and co-founder Forrest O’Connor are keeping their experience of being struggling musicians as inspiration. The founders aim to lock down sponsorship revenue for each streamed show, and they’ll be splitting that revenue with venues and musicians.
“We think Concert Window will be a great sponsorship vehicle,” explained Gurney. “The audience is quite targeted (music fans of whoever’s playing that night) and they’ll potentially be staring at someone’s logo for up to two and a half hours. Not to mention the sponsor gets to associate with top-notch performers and venues.”
Concert Window has big goals for 2011 centered on expanding to more venues around the country and locking down sponsors. Up until now the company has been self-funded, and Gurney says they plan to seek investment to equip a year’s worth of new venues. We asked Gurney a few more tough questions on our mind, and you can find the answers below:
1. Are musicians/venues concerned about cannibalizing music/ticket sales?
Yeah, that’s a good question and always the first one that venues ask us. We think the opposite is true, and this has been borne out by our experience at Passim so far. If anything, people are more likely to visit Passim when they’ve been watching their shows online — the name is in their head. Say if they’re from Montana, the next time they come to Boston they’ll know about Passim. From the performers’ side, Concert Window is a fantastic promotional vehicle, since it’s free to watch shows. It’s a fantastic gift to give your fans. We also have a “Buy album” link next to the video window to help out the musicians. So far, musicians and venues have been super excited about the service.
2. How are you different than what other live streaming companies have done in the past?
Our approach is different from what live streaming companies have done in the past. Previously, companies have made two costly assumptions about what consumers want: they’ve brought production crews to venues and offered videos on demand. Perhaps due to the ensuing cost and legal implications, many of these older companies have failed. So we’ve found a new way to do it. We install an HD streaming workflow in venues and operate it remotely. And all of our shows are live. In addition to avoiding the legal pitfalls of on-demand, we believe that live shows have a certain “spark” — while you’re watching, anything could happen. It’s what’s great about live music.
3. Are there particular types of venues/musicians you are targeting initially (e.g. size, genre, location, etc.)?
We love all types of music and want to turn Concert Window into a nationwide network of venues. We won’t be going for arenas (at least not at first!). Initially, it will be smaller clubs. We just secured our second venue — a classical music venue — and are in talks with a number of others. If any venues are reading this and would like to get involved, they can email me at email@example.com — we’ve found a way to make this free for the venues.
What do you think about Concert Window? What venues would you like to see streaming live music from next?