Pearl Jam, The Doors Use Technology To Bypass Traditional Music Delivery
Technology and risk-taking innovators in popular music are taking content delivery where it hasn't been available previously, and in a manner that large record labels sometimes have had to be dragged kicking and screaming. Seattle-based Pearl Jam has led the way in providing instant online access to each of its concerts, and now legendary '60s band The Doors is following its path by making about two dozen previous
Technology and risk-taking innovators in popular music are taking content delivery where it hasn't been available previously, and in a manner that large record labels sometimes have had to be dragged kicking and screaming. Seattle-based Pearl Jam has led the way in providing instant online access to each of its concerts, and now legendary '60s band The Doors is following its path by making about two dozen previously unavailable live concerts available directly to fans.Bootlegged recordings of major recording acts like Pearl Jam, The Doors, Led Zepplin, and Bob Dylan have been a plague on much of the recording industry for decades, but for fans the illegally distributed bootlegs have often been the only way to obtain rare recordings that either the record labels or artists themselves may have felt didn't merit widespread distribution.
Pearl Jam thumbed its collective nose at conventional wisdom in 2000 when it began issuing "official bootlegs" of each of its concerts. Having two dozen live CDs to distribute simultaneously didn't seem like a good idea to the band's record label, but after Pearl Jam sold three million copies of the "bootlegs," a new niche was created for artists of a certain stature.
Last fall, Pearl Jam took the next step by making the concert "bootlegs" available for immediate download on its Web site within an hour or two of the end of each show using software from Basecamp Productions and content management and delivery network services from Savvis. The Doors are hooking into the same technology to make available some real "jewels" that until now were either unavailable, or only found in illegally made recordings of poor quality, says John Densmore, drummer for The Doors.
Densmore points out that one concert The Doors provided in Vancouver, British Columbia, in 1970 had previously not been released because during a couple of the tracks the drum mix had inadvertently been dropped. That concert, which Densmore considers among the band's best, will now be available. Fans can download the entire concert, or pick and choose among the live tracks.
"There is going to be some obscure live tracks you can't get anywhere else," Densmore told InformationWeek. "You can download entire concerts, other songs we've recorded, or pull out your choice cuts."
The process being promoted by The Doors and Pearl Jam flies in the face of a couple of conventional methods of delivery in the music industry: the use of third-party download sites like ITunes, and the use of digital rights management software to limit downloads.
With millions of visitors already going to the Web sites of megabands like The Doors and Pearl Jam, it makes no sense to send the users off to a third-party site for content delivery, says Joshua James, owner and co-founder of Basecamp. And although no decision has been made as yet for DRM protection of material by The Doors, Pearl Jam downloads have no DRM restrictions.
"People who want to steal content will steal regardless of DRM," James says. "In my opinion, you're going to have fewer sales with DRM than you would prevent thefts. I see DRM as a farce. People want the flexibility to do what they want."
James says there are other major artists with large followings that he's currently in negotiations with to create their own "direct to the fans" offerings.
"The band is the brand," James says. "We can skin [the Web site offerings] to look like whatever the artists want it to look like. We are definitely finding an open market for this technology, particularly for artists at the very top of the industry."
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