Should clubs sell video subscriptions?

by Jason Gross

20 October 2008


Recently, the Metropolitan Opera got the bright idea of selling videos of some of its performances online.  Seem silly?  They also recently broadcast some of their shows in movie theaters.  The end result was that they got packed audiences for these viewings.  Don’t be surprised if they have good sales of their broadcasts too.

So the obvious question after this is… why aren’t more venues doing the same?  Not everyone can make it out to shows- you have a busy schedule or maybe you happen to live in an area where your favorite band isn’t doing a show.  For the millions of people in either of those boats, paying a couple of bucks to see the show might not be a bad idea, especially if it’s filmed well.  You have the bonus of saving money on traveling to the club, not paying for over-priced drinks and not having to push around for a good view of the band.  Plus, if you can keep the video, you can slow it, play it back, fast forward through parts you don’t like or see parts you love again and again.  And if you wouldn’t have to wait until it gets released as a DVD, that’s even better- even if it’s offered for sale online a day or two later, it’s still current and fresh.  Seems obvious. 

So why ain’t it done? My guess is that part of the problem is that you not only have to pay the artist involved but also the label and the publishers for the songs they’re doing.  But if the band’s got their set list planned in advance, that can be arranged too.  I was at a Lucinda Williams concert where they had burned copies of the first half of her show ready for buyers who came there after the second half but in that case, she was covering her old albums so it was a set group of songs.  The Pixes and Phish did this too for their concerts but as we all know, good shows are more than just good audio- the visuals are the important missing component.  Fans want it and some smart entrepreneurs will figure this out, make deals and give it to ‘em.

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