I used to be a jam head. I grew up going to DMB, Phish, Umphrey’s McGee, The Big Wu, Rusted Root, John Mayer and Blues Traveler concerts as well as all the local and regional jam bands near Wisconsin. I have (somewhere) a huge CD wallet full of bootleg concerts recorded by Tapers. Tapers are a unique community. They get to the show early and setup their recording rig (typically next to the board if they can manage). Some bands allow Tapers to plug directly into the board on a first come first serve basis.
Back in the day, people literally traded CDs and cassette tapes of concerts through the mail. There were discussion boards and tape trading websites to officiate these relationships. Paying for bootlegs was strictly forbidden and against what the culture stood for.
Fast forward to the digital download era. Archive.org became the de facto hub for Tapers to upload concerts and jam heads to download. However, once non-jam bands realized their fans would love to relive the concert they were at, more bands began to record and upload their sets to Archive.org. Currently there are over 4,700 bands and 123,000 live concerts on Archive.org (in the Live Music section) for free download.
But what about getting the show you just saw? The night of?
Umphrey’s McGee, for years, recorded their concerts through the board and burned CDs directly following the concert and sold them on the spot. Now they host all shows on their website and for $9.99 a month (or $99.99 a year) fans can have access and stream all 978 concerts (and counting).
This new startup out of Seattle looks to completely change the concert culture. Their mission statement is:
“To bring artists and fans together by capturing the live performance and encouraging people to live in the moment.”
I spoke with 4 representatives at the company (no really… 4!) to get the full run down and learn the ins and outs of what Lively is doing (and will do).
Lively launched in May of 2013. Currently over 100 shows are on the platform with thousands of downloads.
Basically, the app enables fans to download the concert they just saw. As fast as the band can hit Stop, add track markers, label the songs and upload the set to the Lively servers (about 30 minutes) is as fast as fans will have access to the concert to download. Lively likes to boast “on the ride home.”
Artists currently need an iPad and an iOS compatible audio interface (they recommend Apogee Duet 2). Artists record the concert (either from the board or a room mic) and use the iPad to create the set list names and upload to Lively. Bands can omit songs if they want. Lively mentioned that Macbook, PC and iPhone applications are coming within the next 3-4 months.
Artists can charge for these concerts (however many are free on the app) and make 70% of the net revenue (the app store takes its cut – Apple, Google and Windows take 30%). Lively recommends charging $4.99 per concert. So after a 30% app store cut and a 30% Lively cut, the Artist would receive $2.45 for a $4.99 concert.
Similar to iTunes sales in the US, the mechanical royalty is built into the download*. Artists who own 100% of the song (or do not have a publisher) agree that they wave their mechanical royalty (if they offer the concert for free) or the mechanical royalty will be built into the payment for the download. Regardless, they aren’t going to receive anything in addition for the mechanical royalty.
*When artists have a publisher, Lively obtains compulsory mechanical licenses through the Harry Fox Agency as well as strikes deals directly with Publishers.
Download Not Stream
Lively utilizes the download model (not streaming) so PROs will not be involved in this process.
All downloads are locked within the app and will not appear anywhere else on the mobile device and cannot be transferred to the desktop. Lively does work with certain TV applications like AppleTV, Airplay and Chromecast. If Lively ever goes under, I imagine, so will your downloads.
Lively currently sends video teams to select shows (mostly around Seattle) to capture the concert and offers the full video concert the next day for download. For video, Lively obtains the sync licenses directly from publishers whenever necessary.
Lively has struck some deals with venues in Seattle, LA and DC (and are adding more every month) and have made them “Lively Enabled.” Basically, Lively sets the venue up with the iPad and the Duet 2 and teaches the house engineer the program. Venues can offer a Lively recording to every Artist that plays the venue.
Currently, Lively is functioning on an invite-only basis. Artists who’d like to be considered can email Lively at firstname.lastname@example.org to request an invite.
I’ve listened to a few concerts and it actually sounds fantastic! Surprisingly great. Lively mentioned the audio bit rate is 320kbps in mp3 form (which is a higher bit rate than iTunes at 256kbps).
I tested this out and it literally takes only a few seconds to download a song.
Not Just For Musicians
They do offer comedy shows and talks as well.
Artists Who Have Used The Platform
Keith Urban, Blues Traveler, Aijia, Hunter Hunted, Ryan Cabrera, Jamestown Revival, Hello World, Austin Jenckes and others.
This is a very innovate app and artists who utilize it effectively could theoretically make serious dough – similar to how Umphrey’s McGee sold post show CDs. However, for $5 a concert, with Artists receiving less than half of that, this could have a counter effect and cut into merch sales. I imagine fans who would otherwise purchase the CD may skip the $10 purchase for a $5 live concert. The artist receives 100% of the CD sale and less than 50% of the concert download. However, CDs are becoming extinct anyways, so it’s important that bands offer Ts and other fun merch items and learn how to sell them at the show.
I think Lively is going to need to alter the pricing structure to be more favorable to the artists. It’s hard to justify giving away over 50% of the download sale – when labels and DIY artists get 70% from an iTunes sale (possibly a bit less depending on their distribution company.)
This could be another revenue generator not just from fans who were at the concert, but from hardcore fans who MISSED the concert. Umphrey’s McGee is proving this model effective with their current concert subscription service. Lively mentioned that the Hunter Hunted show at the Crocodile in Seattle was attended by about 300 people, but so far that concert has been downloaded over 450 times (for free).
Lively is still a very new company and working out many kinks. With 25 employees and heavy funding, they are moving quickly, but are still in the baby stages of what this app could be.
Download the Lively App
Request an Artist invite: email@example.com
Ari Herstand is a Los Angeles based DIY musician and the creator of Ari’s Take. Follow him on Twitter: @aristake