Technology Jam | IROCKE Live Streaming Concerts

IROCKE. The #1 Source for Live Streaming Concerts Worldwide

While it's easy to hunt down certain live music streaming events, others often fall under the radar. Most Phish fans, for example, know that they can find official streams at LivePhish.com and unofficial streams at Hoodstream. Likewise, many fans know they can hit up a festival’s home page to see if there is a stream provided for that particular event. However, there are hundreds of concerts every week across the country and world available for streaming that you may never know about. Even for someone actively engaged in social media, who visits sites such as JamBase and keeps their ears to the ground - there’s likely a band that you like streaming a show tonight that you don’t know about. With the proliferation of live streaming concerts, it is impossible to keep up with all the offerings. Impossible of course, unless there was a site that curated all those events for you and meticulously cataloged them, arranged by date and provided links. Fortunately, there is such a site.

IROCKE is a fantastic site that takes the drudgery out of finding live music events available for streaming. A neatly displayed grid of colored squares indicating different music genres and arranged by date, display upcoming events. Live events are badged with a red “LIVE NOW” icon for ease of finding something to listen to or watch immediately. Typical Google-like search functions are provided to find events by artist, genre or venue. Further data is provided such as how many cameras are expected to shoot the event, video production quality, broadcast quality (SD or HD) and estimated “attendance."

I’ve used IROCKE a bunch over the past month and have found streams of a handful of fantastic shows that I had no idea were taking place. I was intrigued with the site and thought it would be interesting to find out more about IROCKE, the self-proclaimed “#1 Source for Live Streaming Concerts Worldwide." Charles Walker, Head of Listings for IROCKE was gracious enough to answer my questions.

Parker Harrington: How, why, and when did IROCKE start?

Charles Walker: IROCKE didn't start on the web. Almost 4 years ago, at a small SoCal concert venue called Saint Rocke, where Allen Sanford, independent venue owner and IROCKE Co-Founder, was streaming the venue's scheduled live shows online as a means of gauging the appetite for live digital performances. At that time, there weren't many venues in the US that were doing this. About 6 months later, Saint Rocke webcast a live show from their 300-capacity room that was viewed by 110,000 people from 130 countries, with over 7,250 chat messages contributed by viewers in only 70 minutes. That's when it was understood where the music industry was headed. IROCKE was in its private beta until November of 2012. It was also initially created around the idea that finding a truly live concert stream on the internet was nearly impossible to do without solid research chops, but the live streaming component was appealing to larger bands, especially from a small venue. Allen shared his ideas and passions for music, entrepreneurship, and this new medium with Karl Rogers at the Manhattan Beach Pumpkin Races. With Karl's extensive background in leadership, programming, technology and operating successfully on the macro- level at Time Warner and Universal Interactive - he provided the necessary insight to take this whole thing to the next level. So the initial reason for the birth of IROCKE was to prove that there was a live digital marketplace emerging and that it would prove to need some organization. We wanted to bridge the gap between the artist and the fan, but we had to get the fan to the live digital concert first. We wanted to show that there's a new distribution model for artists, bands and brands - but at the same time prove that there's an entirely new consumption model in fans of different genres who are demanding more and more from their favorite acts these days.

PH: Why is the streaming space so ripe for explosion now?

CW: This space is extremely hot right now. It's safe to say that we're at the beginning of the mainstream takeover levels as this medium is introducing to the world. It's powerful. It's creative. It puts a fan's favorite artist on their lap or in the palm of their hand, in a truly live fashion, for close to nothing in terms of cost for the consumer. It's a new distribution model for artists, brands, bands and festivals. It's a new consumption model for music lovers around the world, a model that has proven to generate revenue for artists and lower their overhead on touring costs. There are tons of reasons why this live digital era is being ushered in. It makes perfect sense really when taking a step back and looking at the musical ecosystem and what's currently driving it. Festivals and live concert experiences are a driving force. Technology has gradually become affordable enough to do this consistently. Electronic music fans and artists are a leading force in this medium, and that's an industry that has exploded in and of itself. In a nutshell, yes, it feels exactly like the next step in the natural progression model of music distribution and consumption (i.e. the tipping point: am/fm >> tape >> cd >> mp3 >> recorded video >> live video).

PH: How are all the shows aggregated? Manually?

CW: We aggregate, organize and curate every live digital concert on the planet and deliver it free to music-loving consumers via our comprehensive social infrastructure that digitally reproduces the physical concert world. IROCKE has a small team of listings editors based individually around the globe who contribute listings to our network by aggregating and indexing all of the live digital concerts online, as well as using automated methods that also turn us on to the live event webcasts. We have our finger on well over 2,000 sources that can range from a physical music venue or artist website to a virtual venue, festival, producer, recording studio or artist's mobile device (and that number of sources grows daily). We also monitor over 2 million artists, and for us - that's what provides the context for listing the live event on our site.

PH: TRI Studios, Umphrey's McGee, Widespread Panic and Phish - these are the acts that really seem to "get it" in this space. Who else is leading the pack?

CW: These camps definitely get it. They all play to their strengths and to their fans. Phish and Umphrey's especially when it comes to monetizing and consistently bringing superb audio and video to the screen in the live fashion. TRI Studios for having literally one of the best live digital studio setups in the world, inviting fans into that world of Bob Weir and his buddies, which allows them to hear improvisational jams and conversations for free. When it comes to leading the pack, the pack is growing every day with new people entering this space. Some of the players at the front of the game would be Nugs.net (powering Phish, Widespread Panic, Umphrey’s McGee, Leftover Salmon, etc), Ustream Live, Livestream Sessions, YouTube Live, Be-at.tv, Boiler Room, Beta Nightclub, MTV, SkyroomLive, Red Bull, Beatport, Mixmag, NPR, Stageit, medici.tv, ACL Live, Audiotree, American Express UNSTAGED, CBS Live on Letterman, VyRT and Thirty Seconds To Mars, Concert Window, and the list goes on and on. We'll plan to release the Best of IROCKE 2013 List(s) at the end of the year, so keep your eyes peeled in the future for this.

PH: How will you monetize your business?

CW: We will monetize a number of different ways: by doing paid shows, brand affiliations, aggressive online ticketing, live content productions, by creating a live digital music network (and more).

PH: How many shows do you currently have listed on IROCKE?

CW: There are over 12,000 shows that have been listed on our site to date. Our supply goes up and down so any specific number I give you will change in 10 minutes, both higher and lower. Today, there are over 2,000 live performances broadcast monthly on a variety of different platforms.

PH: Why should a user sign up for an IROCKE profile?

CW: There are multiple reasons for a user to have an IROCKE profile. There are 150 million viewers who watch live video streams each month, a viewership projected to outgrow the American television market by 2014 as it reaches an estimated 315 million viewers. As the live digital and music concert markets converge, we believe that this new music-social marketplace will grow to be the central backbone of the music industry. Whether the user is an artist, a source, a fan, or a mix of the three. For fans, IROCKE offers the simplest way to discover and attend live digital concerts from anywhere on the planet. For artists and brands, IROCKE is a powerful and customizable platform for distributing and promoting live digital performances and appearances worldwide. Overall, IROCKE is a live digital music network.

PH: What features are coming?

CW: There will be a much more powerful product, something similar to our platform that we operated FOREVER FESTIVAL on. A much cleaner, more powerful user interface that will create the optimum user experience and that will give fans the ability to get to live digital concerts much easier. There will also be a mobile component, but I can't give away much more detail at this time. We are effectively positioning IROCKE to be the epicenter of the live digital music ecosystem by defining and accelerating this medium and ultimately creating a live digital music network.

PH: Which event has had the largest "attendance" so far?

CW: In the music space, I would have to say that TommorrowLand 2013, Ultra Music Festival, along with Bonnaroo and Outside Lands music festivals, are among the largest live digital music events to date.

PH: How Is streaming effecting the music industry as a whole? All positives or some negatives?

CW: Overall, I would say it's still too early to tell exactly what kind of an effect it will have. Do I think it will hurt the live physical concert industry? Absolutely not. It will only provide for a larger audience and more interaction. Will it replace the live physical environment? Never. Being at the physical event will always remain first, but the webcast component is a sure second. I see problems within the labels because they have their own models, however it's been interesting to see different labels like Sony, Warner Bros, etc. use this medium as a marketing tool. I think it will positively play a massive role in the music world within the next couple of years as the live digital model will become larger than physical music and recorded music combined.

PH: Approximately how many users are there for IROCKE? What are the benefits of registering?

CW: iROCKE is currently hovering right around the 200,000 monthly unique number as far as users on our site go. The benefits of registering for our service are multi-fold. You have the ability to create a user profile where you are able to favorite artists and "sources" that will ping you when a show is announced or scheduled to go live. Another benefit is building your online ticket profile, as we provide users with digital "ticket stubs" on their profile. There's the sense of community as music fans are listening, discovering and sharing live digital concerts regularly. Lastly, the most beneficial reason to register for IROCKE is to now have access to the latest live digital concerts happening from around the world at the click of a button.

So go check out IROCKE.com. Who knows, you might find your favorite band playing tonight or discover a new favorite. Happy streaming!

Written By: Parker Harrington


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