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Home Entertainment Center => Music => The Concert Venue => Topic started by: Mac on June 10, 2013, 01:20:09 pm

Title: How technology is transforming live concert bootlegging
Post by: Mac on June 10, 2013, 01:20:09 pm
How technology is transforming live concert bootlegging

“If you put your cameras down you might be able to live in the moment,” chided Ian Brown, frontman of iconic Mancunian indie band The Stone Roses.

Those were among the first words uttered by Brown during the band’s first comeback gig in May 2012, after a 16-year hiatus. But the singer wasn’t so much concerned about Polaroids, point-and-shoots or any other kind of camera that might have proliferated ‘Roses gigs back in the day – what he was referring to was iPhones, Androids and every other kind of smartphone.

If you think this was simply the ramblings of a worn-out, has-been rock star without so much as a finger-nail on the pulse of the zeitgeist, you’d be wrong. Less than a year later, New York rock band Yeah Yeah Yeahs echoed these sentiments via a sign for arriving gig-goers that read:

“Please do not watch the show through a screen on your smart device/camera. Put that **** away as a courtesy to the person behind you and to [band members] Nick, Karen and Brian.”

Then, a month ago, Mercury Prize-winning British quartet Alt-J began trialing new technology designed to encourage fans to keep recording equipment in their pockets, and steer eyes towards the stage and ensuing live performance.

There’s a rising tide against the infiltration of smart devices at live shows, and for good reason.

Bands and other performers are looking to regain the full attention of their audience, while promoters and others with a vested interest in artists’ affairs are keen to profit from this insatiable desire to ‘relive’ an event once it’s come to a close. If they can’t fight it, they’d may as well embrace it and try and make a few bucks out of it with legitimate services.

Having been a serial gig-goer for many years, I too have been known to whip out my mobile phone or digital camera and capture some footage or a few photos for posterity. Without even a hint of exaggeration, I can say that 99% of the time I’ve never looked at my ‘handiwork’ more than once, simply because they were never of a good enough quality to accurately reflect the gig as I remembered it. So why did I do it? I think primarily because it became habitual and, well, because I was able to do it.

A big turning point for me came back in 2010 when The Pixies played at The Brixton Academy in London. On my way in, I noticed a stall that offered live audio recordings of the gig for around £15 ($20). I assumed I would pay up front and receive a disc in the post a week or two later but, alas, I was wrong.

I did pay on the spot, but the CD was available within about 20 minutes of the show ending, meaning that by the time I’d suffered the painfully long queue to regain my jacket, a brand-spanking new, professionally recorded live album – including cover art – was in my hands. For someone who went to maybe 20-30 gigs a year, this was the first time I’d ever seen this, and it was a revelation. Sure, it was audio-only, but it made me realize how much better a professional recording is – it brings actual value to the experience.

After a little bit of digging, I soon discovered that a company called DiscLive had been offering such a service since the turn of the century, teaming up with the likes of Billy Idol to sell CDs immediately after they left the stage. And in more recent times, bands such as The Red Hot Chilli Peppers were also selling live music downloads of all their gigs, though in their instance it was a few days after to allow proper professional mixes to be carried out.

But this still isn’t all that common at gigs. While some bigger bands do release official videos of their gigs, usually the only way to relive a night is through buying or downloading something recorded by a fellow fan. There’s clearly a market for live music recordings, and there’s an evident paradigm between live-music bootlegging (audio or video) and studio-recorded music piracy.

Napster yings, Apple yangs
When Napster arrived on the scene back in 1999, the music industry didn’t know what hit it. Although it wasn’t the first peer-to-peer file-sharing service by a long stretch, it was the first to gain a reputation specifically for music downloads via a user-friendly interface. And all this at a time when the Internet was really starting to gain momentum in homes, offices and universities around the world – the timing could not have been more perfect.

But Napster, in its original guise at least, ultimately fell foul to the laws of the land and was forced offline under the corporate heft of the music industry. Napster just made it way too easy for folk to share copyrighted music.

But for every ying, there’s a yang. Napster also heralded a digital music revolution that saw the dawn of mp3 players, iTunes and Spotify. By giving the music-loving public an easy conduit to downloading or streaming music on-demand, this went some way towards restoring order.

However, this only really applies to studio-recorded music. If you want to relive that special night at New York’s Bowery Ballroom, San Francisco’s Fillmore or London’s Brixton Academy, there’s still the same-old problem as before. YouTube kind of fills a void here, but you’ll no doubt agree that 90% of the recordings are plain awful. This is changing though.

Technology brings power to the people
In days gone by, anyone wishing to bootleg a gig would have to smuggle in some fairly chunky equipment. The advent of the smartphone era empowered anyone to be a have-a-go bootlegger, but it’s only in recent times where devices have been of sufficient quality to bring real value to those watching online via YouTube and other platforms. I mean, the Nokia N8 was used to produce a whole feature film.

Check out the quality of this Trans-Siberian Orchestra concert clip, shot on a Nokia Lumia 920. The sound is really quite excellent, and helps highlight why Nokia is keen to stop other manufacturers using its microphone technology:

Ignoring the fact that this particular clip is shot from distance, just think how easy it would be to record a fairly good multi-angle video. Three or four friends positioned in different parts of an auditorium, each armed with a high-spec smartphone, could produce a high-quality video of any show. Here’s how good a close-up video can look with the Lumia 920 – this is shot in 1080p:


There’s already the software to easily stitch together such content too. Vyclone (previous coverage) for example, lets users sync and edit multi-angle videos directly from their mobile phones. It only works with footage captured simultaneously which is perfect for gigs, and it uses the longest audio track from the available videos as the source, before normalizing the rest of the audio to create a sense of cohesion.

The technology is already there for seriously good fan-shot concert videos, and the more this technology improves and proliferates, the more this will cause headaches for those with a direct financial interest in live performances. As things stand, many venues ban professional-grade recording equipment – so we’re talking optical zoom lenses here. But it will be near-impossible for auditoriums to ban smartphones, which is why we’re now seeing the beginnings of a counter-response.

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Title: Re: How technology is transforming live concert bootlegging
Post by: Chiprocks1 on June 10, 2013, 01:42:27 pm
Great post, dude. When I first got into YouTube, my main objective was to find rare bootlegs. It was more miss than hits and over the years, it seemed to get worst because everyone was now uploading whatever they captured. But lately, the tide has shifted a great deal as more and more people are now more knowledgeable and giving us some high quality stuff to rival those "official" DVD releases. It's these specific shows that gave me the idea to finally do The Concert Venue Thread so that I'd have a place to post great shows.
Title: Re: How technology is transforming live concert bootlegging
Post by: Mac on June 11, 2013, 10:02:30 am
Things are changing quickly, aren't they.

I too hope to see better posts. I just have to ignore the crap... when it's crap.