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Author: Subject: Clear Channel Selling Live Show CDs

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  posted on 7/29/2003 at 09:01 AM
If this has already been discussed, my apologies, but it comes as news to me...

INSTANT REPLAY: Joining Bands Who Record Concert CDs,
Clear Channel is Set to Sell Live Discs Immediately after the Show


Steve Morse
29 July 2003 - The Boston Globe

How many times have you gone to a concert and wished you had a live recording of it? In the past, the best way to get one was from a bootlegger who charged hefty prices for recordings with quality so poor it could make the dog wince. There were a couple of exceptions, notably the Grateful Dead and Phish, that allowed fans to tape their shows with decent audio gear. But most acts quashed any live recordings of their shows and thus opened the market to pirates.

That's changing. Not only are a growing number of bands recording their shows and selling them to fans online, but music industry titan Clear Channel, after testing instant live CD production in a couple of local clubs, is about to announce that it's moving the program into larger venues.

Clear Channel has joined forces with the Allman Brothers Band to roll out its "Instant Live" CD program in two North Carolina amphitheaters starting this weekend: Saturday in Charlotte and Sunday in Raleigh. For these dates, Clear Channel expects to use 27 CD burners, each of which can turn out eight copies in 3 1/2 minutes. Proceeds from sales of the instant CDs - expected to be a three-CD set that will cost at least $20 - will be split equally between the band and Clear Channel.

"The Allmans are a band that varies their set list every night and play different versions of their songs, so the fans are always interested in what they're doing," said Steve Simon, a Clear Channel executive vice president who is in charge of the instant CD program nationwide. "The Allmans seemed like a perfect place for us to start at the amphitheater level. They were our focus all along. And they're very comfortable playing without a net."

"We're going to give it a shot. We think it's worth trying," said Allman manager Burt Holman during a recent show at the Tweeter Center in Mansfield, where Clear Channel set up a mixing board backstage for a test run (though no CDs were released).

For an industry locked in a battle against downloading - and struggling to convince young listeners that popular music is worth paying for - the recording and selling of live CDs is a promising revenue stream. The CDs will be available to concertgoers immediately, making them an easy impulse buy before downloaders get ahold of them. Also, the variation in set lists and shows could make the CDs collectors' items.

Here's how it will work. Imagine, as you take in a show at the 19,900-capacity Tweeter Center, that dozens of CD burners are whirring away in a back room, pumping out hundreds, perhaps thousands, of copies of the show.

Later, as you're shuffling out, there'll be tents, booths, and maybe kiosks stocked with live CDs of the show you just saw - already for sale. Don't want to buy one just then? Maybe you will once you've been sitting in traffic in the parking lot for 45 minutes. Simon envisions vendors with CD-stocked mailbags slung over their shoulders and wireless credit card machines selling music car to car.

Some bands have already beaten Clear Channel to the punch. Pearl Jam, Peter Gabriel, and the Who have been releasing their own live tour CDs via their websites. And the Rolling Stones have recently sought advice from Pearl Jam on how to do it.

"It's not the most original idea that Clear Channel ever had," said Pearl Jam guitarist Stone Gossard.

The main difference, though, is that the bands that run their own live CD programs mail the finished recordings to fans several days later (in the case of Pearl Jam - check out pearljam.com for details) or sometimes weeks later, rather than deliver them on-site right after the show.

"We looked into selling the CDs after the concert but decided against it," said Pearl Jam's sound mixer, Brett Eliason. "The technology exists, but the logistics are difficult. What do you do with people who might have to wait 20 minutes after the show? . . . There are a lot of hurdles having to do with public-security issues and with labor fees at the venue."

However, conglomerate Clear Channel owns and operates 41 amphitheaters around the country, giving it an advantage.

"Since we have on-site staff already, we don't have to enter into new leases and make new deals," said Simon. "And we can use direct consumer marketing. A record company doesn't know who buys its records in a store. But we know who buys our tickets."

Some fear that bands such as Pearl Jam might get pushed around by Clear Channel in the future, since Clear Channel could seek a chunk of the profits if the band uses one of its amphitheaters. So far that hasn't happened.

"No one has said anything to us," Pearl Jam manager Kelly Curtis said during the group's recent three-night run at the Tweeter Center, which is owned by Clear Channel. "Besides, they know that we're too testy and too grumpy to be asked about it."

Some bands, such as Phish, send out downloadable music for MP3s after each show (Pearl Jam also does that). But going a step further and sending out mastered CDs is a potential boon to consumers who are tired of paying exorbitant prices for pirated bootlegs. Pearl Jam started its CD series after realizing that illegal bootlegs were costing fans $40 to $50, said Curtis. So now the band gives fans soundboard-quality, double CDs for $12.98 for fan club members and $14.98 for the general public. Still, fans who order through artist websites have to be patient. Gabriel, who charges $25 for a double CD through his "Encore Series," makes fans wait at least three weeks to receive it.

Pearl Jam started its "Bootleg Series" three years ago by persuading Sony Records to release recordings of every show on the tour to retail stores (the 72 CDs sold a combined 2.4 million copies, or more than 30,000 per show). For this tour, though, Sony is expected to put out just four or five to retail stores, hence the band's desire to connect to consumers directly through the Internet.

Pearl Jam manager Curtis is fine with that; the band's catalog in retail stores was just getting "too messy," he said. (Sales through the Internet, however, are much smaller, averaging 2,000-3,000 per show, according to Tim Bierman, who runs Pearl Jam's fan club.)

All eyes are now on Clear Channel to see what numbers they will post. So far, the company has only tried selling live CDs at the club level in Boston, where it has proved popular. For an April show by the Samples at the 700-capacity Paradise Rock Club, more than 25 percent of the audience bought a CD for $15, and the sound quality was impressive. (The on-site manager of the program is Laurie Gail, former music director for WFNX-FM.)

Some bands have nixed the program because it could compete with their own CD release parties and events. But many local acts have signed up in recent months, including Kay Hanley, Spookie Daly Pride, and Machinery Hall.

Clear Channel co-CEO Don Law said the "Instant Live" program essentially provides "seed money" for up-and-coming bands at the club level. They pocket the money (half of the $15 sale price for recordings of club-level acts), rather than having bootleggers get it.

"It's been nothing but great for us," said Dan Millen, who manages Spookie Daly Pride. "Sometimes Clear Channel gets a bad rap for being the evil empire, but this has been artist-friendly. They also sent us an extra case of 120 CDs and we've been selling them on the road, where people have been snapping them up."

Clear Channel, which has also contracted with jam-band moe to sell live CDs for its upcoming tour, is in discussion with other acts. The ink is not yet dry, so Simon is reluctant to name them. He does add that the company is hoping to get some of the CDs into retail outlets and is in discussion with Tower Records and Newbury Comics.

"Personally, I've always loved live discs," said Simon, who once helped manage the band Boston. "Live recordings are the opposite of anything that is canned."


[Edited on 7/29/2003 by enigmajean]

 

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Zen Peach



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  posted on 7/29/2003 at 09:06 AM
My only question, are we allowed to copy these CD's for B&P's and trades still? Anyone know?

 

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  posted on 7/29/2003 at 09:16 AM
No reason to believe you could. Copying what you pay for is a no-no.

 

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  posted on 7/29/2003 at 09:18 AM
Any word from Mr. Holman if this new alliance has any impact on the band's policy regarding tapers? Seems the policies of 1)an alliance to sell the shows with Clear channell and 2)a policy that allows tapers/trades in the buildings are diametrically opposed. Seems to me if the band is selling the show and profiting, this could indicate a future shift in policy??? Maybe we will only be able to trade shows that are not in CC venues? Either way, this does not sound like good news.
 

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  posted on 7/29/2003 at 09:31 AM
From what I gather, taping can and will continue. If you want to buy you can, if not, you do just what we are doing now.

 

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  posted on 7/29/2003 at 09:40 AM
There really is no way to tell the difference I guess if you get in on a B&P from one of the shows though whether it is a tapers soundboard copy or the burned soundboard copy that someone paid for.
Ebay losers will be able to purchase a live show copy and make copies and sell them for profit with out having to get a show from here or wherever they get them from now.
Many thoughts going on here....

 

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  posted on 7/29/2003 at 09:45 AM
hey, i'm glad the bros. are going to be getting a bit of extra cash selling shows to those who don't trade.....but now i'm wondering if it's going to be O.K. to keep trading shows like we do for the upcoming dates.

hmmmn....

 

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  posted on 7/29/2003 at 09:57 AM
My guess is that if they're selling it, there will be no (legit) taping - but hey, until they're stopped at the door and told "you can't do that here," tape and trade away.

I, personally, am okay with it. I have never been one who needs "everything," and other than 2000, I'm happy with a few highly-recommended shows per year (and the ones I personally attend).

 

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  posted on 7/29/2003 at 10:14 AM
I just posted in Butch's forum about this, so hopefully he'll stop by and give us the "skinny" on all this. My biggest questions are 1) the availability of the shows to fans who didn't attend the shows and 2) the sound quality of the shows themselves (I had heard that the Who had done something similiar and the sound quality wasn't really up to par). Anyway, curious to see how this all plays out.
 
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  posted on 7/29/2003 at 10:36 AM
quote:
There really is no way to tell the difference I guess if you get in on a B&P from one of the shows though whether it is a tapers soundboard copy or the burned soundboard copy that someone paid for.
Ebay losers will be able to purchase a live show copy and make copies and sell them for profit with out having to get a show from here or wherever they get them from now.
Many thoughts going on here....


Sound quality. There is a large difference between an audience recording and a soundboard, at least there is to me.

 

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  posted on 7/29/2003 at 10:57 AM
My guess is that, other than it being Clear Channel doing the selling (rather than the band), this will follow the model of The Dead's activities in this area - audience taping to continue, alongside the commercial selling of the official SBD; trading in aud sources will be ok, but copying of the official releases is absolutely prohibited.

There's just two possible drawbacks IMHO,

1) Don't expect to ever get "free" SBD patches again, either at the venue or to download later

2) Clear Channel later decide to use their muscle, and force the band to prohibit taping in CC venues (as suggested by DavidQ below)

Hopefully neither will come to pass...

Paul

P.S. Just thought of drawback no. 3 - unless there is an after-show sales service (online?), what do non-attendees/overseas fans do for their music???


 
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  posted on 7/29/2003 at 11:11 AM
quote:
I had heard that the Who had done something similiar and the sound quality wasn't really up to par

This is my concern, I paid $30 last year for The Who show I saw at Jones Beach and the sound quality outright sucks. Might be a fluke, but for that price I won't chance it again. I'll stick to trading here in the forums.

 

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  posted on 7/29/2003 at 11:23 AM
the dead is doing this for the current tour... you get the discs in the mail 7 days later. the quality is better, and around $20. trading still allowed. a few complaints on philzone abour broken jewel cases, late arrival, and lack of a reciept in the mailer...

the commercial live discs traded? my guess is no. unless clearchannel offers a bnp on the trade board...

 

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  posted on 7/29/2003 at 11:23 AM
I think Paul really nailed it. In the end, it isn't the bands that will have the say. It will be the venue. Clear Channel could just have a monopoly. The bands that allow taping are a minority. We are all used to getting and trading shows because certain bands are really great about it' A band like the Who didn't allow taping so their fans are happy because they can get the show.

If I was at a show I would gladly hand over $20 to the ABB. To have a nice soundboard of the show would be a real bonus. I'm sure we all agree with that. The band should then offer them through the site afterwards. Would they want us to burn these instead of buy them? I doubt that very much. I'm sure they would love the money. I know I would. The band will probably allowing taping and ask that only those be traded. But that honestly isn't too realistic. People will trade and copy them. Ripping off the record companies isn't new. Who here can say that they have never had a cassette copy of anything? We all have and I won't cry for them. They are rich beyond their dreams.

I chose to only purchase certain bands released material. i.e. The ABB, Govt Mule...

I do it out of respect because they give us so much other material through trading. Would I copy a Who show for a friend? In a second without fail. I am not picking on the Who, most others bands also. I own tons of Who stuff and have seen many shows so I feel no guilt at all when I do. I am not trying to justify stealing. I just won't lose sleep.

I hope they release a copy of this year's ABB show in Ottawa because I can't find a damn copy!

 

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  posted on 7/29/2003 at 11:28 AM
quote:

1) Don't expect to ever get "free" SBD patches again, either at the venue or to download later

2) Clear Channel later decide to use their muscle, and force the band to prohibit taping in CC venues (as suggested by DavidQ below)





As to point one, I thought the ABB stopped doing SBD patches long ago.
To answer point two, Clear Channel "force" the ABB to do anything? They've already walked away from the big record companies, if they feel they have to, I'm sure they'll avoid Clear Channel's venue deathgrip. Of the two, that second may the tougher, I'll give you that.

 

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  posted on 7/29/2003 at 11:29 AM
Interesting that the band is using Clear Channel....hate to see half my money going to the man....

Will end up buying them to support the band....

 

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  posted on 7/29/2003 at 11:32 AM
quote:
the recording and selling of live CDs is a promising revenue stream.


I think the above is that is the scariest statement in the article. CC is looking to exploit a new revenue oppportunity. Once this revenue stream has been targeted, the next logical step is how can you expand the revenue stream? You can expand the revenue stream by closing any holes that present this material for free. Clear Channell can see that there is value in these shows to the trade community. If you shut the trade community down, the potential revenue base grows. Hopefully I'm just being overly cynical, but seems the only interest CC has is the almighty dollar, and that is a likely a threat to the trading community, hopefully a long time down the road.

Now that being said, I would gladly put down my $20.00 while at a show for a quality recording of that show, that would be great. I would much rather pay it directly to the band, not sure what CC brings to the table for it's 50%, I don't think the recording equipment is unique to CC. I just hope these 2 things can co-exist. In the short term I'm sure they can, but my guess is CC's intentions for the long run are a bit more sinister. At least there was no talk of copyrighting in the article!

 

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  posted on 7/29/2003 at 11:35 AM
My thoughts exactly DavidQ...

 

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  posted on 7/29/2003 at 11:35 AM
>>>...they'll avoid Clear Channel's venue deathgrip...

i have a dream today!

i guess if that happened they'd just have to play theaters...wouldn't that be horrible...

 

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  posted on 7/29/2003 at 11:37 AM
Clear Channel is too big to mess with. They have companies in all aspects of the business. Radio domination in most markets along with promoting, venues and offspring companies of all kinds.

Let's face it. The Allman's have new material being played on their stations. They tour at their venues and do business with them. Why would they want to fight with them?

It is different than fighting with a record company. You cut yourself off completely. Pearl Jam tried it and lost. I admire them for it but in the end the fans lose out on a chance to see the band. When Pearl Jam used smaller promoters and different venues, the shows were poorly organized and there were many problems. It created a new headache for the band. Plus it was dangerous because proper systems were not in place.

 

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  posted on 7/29/2003 at 11:40 AM
Theaters! That would be horrible. A small comfortable environment with good sound. I can't think of anything worse.
 

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  posted on 7/29/2003 at 11:46 AM
What happened to the Federal investigation into Clear Channel? Anybody know?

 

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  posted on 7/29/2003 at 11:56 AM
Here's what happened to the Clear Channel investigation:

http://www.newsday.com/business/sns-ap-clear-channel-investigation,0,643227 1.story?coll=ny-business-headlines

 

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  posted on 7/29/2003 at 12:09 PM
The scary thing about this is Clear Channel. Look at what they (and other media conglomerates) have done to radio across the country. It is almost impossible to find a decent station that doesn't play anything outside their format. To me Clear Channel represents the evil empire. I wouldn't mind half of my $ going to the band, it's the other half I worry about.
 

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  posted on 7/29/2003 at 12:24 PM
quote:
the commercial live discs traded? my guess is no. unless clearchannel offers a bnp on the trade board...


oh man i'd pay to see THAT.

 

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