Technology Jam | Ustream Brings Live Music To The Couch And Beyond

Welcome to the inaugural column of Technology Jam on JamBase. I am thrilled to be joining Scott and the JamBase team after two years of writing Technology Tuesday on Hidden Track. Just like when I started writing for Hidden Track, it is such a thrill to be joining JamBase after being a long time reader and admirer of the great content here.

While Technology Tuesday followed a static schedule of postings, keep an eye out on JamBase in the coming weeks for Technology Jam columns on various days. While the focus will often be music related, Technology Jam will be a mix of reviews, feature articles, news updates and tidbits from a wide ranging amount of topics.

As always, I am eager to get suggestions for topics, items you'd like reviewed or technology questions you have. You can drop me a line at parkerjh@gmail.com or hook up with me on Twitter @tmwsiy. - Parker Harrington.

This week we kick off 'Technology Jam' with a look inside popular streaming site, Ustream.

Couch tour. Just a few short years ago, that term would surely conjure up quizzical looks if you mentioned it. Now, “couch tour” has entered the vernacular of music fans who use the term to describe the next best thing to actually being at the show: streaming a live music event from the comfort of home. While streaming live concerts has been around for a long time, from theater-based and cable TV pay-per-views, to early internet streams on many different sites, there’s no doubt the amount of content the last couple of years has exploded. There’s seemingly not a major festival that isn’t streamed anymore and scores of sites provide live concerts offering a wide range of bands of nearly every musical taste.

In addition to high-quality, multi-camera, official streams provided by bands and festivals, a cottage industry has sprung up with unofficial streams provided by fans themselves. With pocket internet hot spots, miniaturized high- fidelity audio equipment and an array of technology not available ten years ago, even “bootleg” or unofficial couch streams can offer some pretty compelling quality.

One of the most popular and well-known sites that allows people to stream live video is Ustream. As YouTube is probably the defacto standard for recorded videos on the web, there’s no closer contender to the champion of live videos than Ustream. Many people may think of Ustream simply as the place to catch a live couch stream from a guy holding an iPhone up in the 30th row - there’s much more to it than that. With ambitious plans, Ustream is well on its way to becoming a major contender in the official concert streaming business as well. Having streamed a handful of successful concerts and festivals, we thought we’d catch up with Ustream and talk a bit about this burgeoning market of “couch tours." Gilad Gershoni, Ustream's Sr. Sales Engineer & Solutions Architect, was gracious enough to answer our questions.

Parker Harrington [PH]: Can you give me a little background on Ustream - who started it and how long has it been around? What was the goal back then and how has the vision for Ustream changed?

Gilad Gershoni [GG]: Ustream was founded in 2007, and the initial concept centered on live communication between overseas troops and their friends/families. Two of our founders were West Point graduates and the idea for Ustream came when they were serving time in the Army, as they (and others around them) were missing some of the most important things of their lives - graduations, weddings, etc.
Today, Ustream is the leading platform for live video streaming and services millions of users globally.

PH: Is the ability to watch live the most important aspect of Ustream or is watching recorded videos equally integral to the site and business plan?

GG: Ustream has focused on the live experience since Day 1. We continue to innovate and find ways to empower broadcasters and viewers to share live experiences. Video On Demand is a key functionality of Ustream given the proliferation of video, but the core centers on the live experience.

PH: How important is the music component going to become for your business and will that be an important piece of the business plan? I think I heard that more music is listened to on YouTube than all the other streaming music sites combined - I guess there is no question that people enjoy music videos on the internet.

GG: Music has always been a big component at Ustream. Our founder started this company so he could see his brother’s band perform while serving overseas. Since then, artists like De La Soul, P.Diddy, Lil Wayne, Will I Am and more were early adopters to this platform, streaming behind the scenes at their shows. Artists like Brad Paisley, Faith Evans and Riba stream live and then use the Ustream’s Live Playlist feature to re-broadcast their shows to other markets around the world to increase awareness. This year, by streaming Bonnaroo and Outside Lands, music fans had the opportunity to share the experience via Ustream’s platform. I believe live broadcasting is the next big thing for the music industry.


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