If the idea of waiting even a week for your "instant" live bootleg from Pearl Jam seems interminable, two new ventures aim to cut your wait time to a few minutes instead of a few days.
Beginning in the Boston area within the next few months, über-promoter Clear Channel Concerts will start burning live CDs at select concerts and offering them for sale within minutes of the final encore, according to Steve Simon, executive vice president of the music division at Clear Channel Entertainment.
"The concept is still in its developmental phase," Simon said, "but we're working collaboratively with artists and songwriters to provide the program at select events over the next year."
He said Clear Channel has already nailed down several artists to participate in the pilot program, but he couldn't name them. The CDs, which will vary in price based on the artist, will be sold outside of the venues after the show.
Aiming for the same audience of superfans, a New York startup called Disclive — led by Rich Isaacson, Loud Records' co-founder and former president — has plans for a similar service. Like Clear Channel, Disclive is positioning its business as a way for the beleaguered music industry to develop a new revenue stream.
"Bootlegging and taping are going on anyway," said Disclive co-founder Jake Walker, 24, who along with partner Dave Blanchard came up with the idea for the company during a college business plan competition. "Our idea is to help artists, labels, venues and our company see revenue from that. In fact, we think the labels and artists are likely to see more profit on this kind of sale than from a regular album, and they don't have to spend a penny on it. There's no risk, because we're buying all the equipment and building the business."
Walker said Disclive plans to officially announce the company's launch in the next few weeks with a presentation that will show how the system works, but he couldn't yet name any artists who've signed on. In Disclive's scheme, fans pay for the live CD before a concert and print out a voucher, which will allow them to pick up their numbered, limited-edition memento less than five minutes after the concert is over at a kiosk in the venue. A limited amount of CDs will also be available for sale without the voucher, Walker said.
Unlike Clear Channel's plan, Disclive plans to send its mobile recording and CD-burning unit on the road with artists. Pricing for the unmastered CDs — which will be mixed by Disclive's on-site audio engineer using a combination of the soundboard feed and microphones placed in the audience — will be decided on an artist-by-artist basis, Walker said.
Over the past year, everyone from the Who to Pearl Jam and Phish have offered variations on the quick turnaround live album. While the Who's bootlegs took several weeks to arrive, Pearl Jam recently announced plans to offer secured, unmastered MP3s the night of the show to fans who've preordered that night's live album, followed by the actual product within a week (see "Pearl Jam Announce Online Bootleg Plans, Opening Acts"). Simon said it's too early to say how many albums or concerts will be offered annually, but that more information on the program will be announced soon.
"The value in this is a collectible CD with a spot for your ticket stub, that, if you spent $100 for a concert, gives you more than a T-shirt," said Walker. At first, Walker said, Disclive plans to concentrate on artists with large followings of fans obsessed with the nuances of every show, such as jam bands, as well as more well-heeled concertgoers who might not attend as many shows but can afford, say, a souvenir Jimmy Buffett live CD.