Attending a show is different now. Everybody’s holding up a cellphone shooting video instead of watching and listening. This doesn’t have to be a 100-percent bad thing, however.
A startup called OutListen intends to turn this sow’s ear into a silk purse by encouraging concertgoers to upload their smartphone footage to an online calendar. If enough people upload footage from the same show, OutListen will cobble it all together by synching the audio waveforms (clever), so that the band (or more likely their “people”) can add the high-quality audio track they hopefully remembered to record at the show, and then release the result as a new type of music product: the crowdsourced concert video.
According to its teaser video, OutListen will be a “user-generated media database for live concerts and events catering mainly but not exclusively to performing musical groups… [and it is] designed to be the place where live music lives on the internet, where lovers of performers can view, share, and combine their own personal concert footage all in one place.”
The sound quality of many cellphone show recordings is the pits (although that situation has improved a great deal; I shot this Javelin footage with an iPhone 4 at Terminal 5 in New York, and the sound turned out okay, whereas my old FlipCam would distort the heck out of amplified sound).
OutListen solves that problem, assuming that participating bands record their shows using something that sounds decent — ideally by plugging a recorder right into the mixing desk, which isn’t very hard. (Bonus: the band, not their label, then owns this sound recording and can sell it and these OutListen videos without giving the money to anyone except the songwriter/publisher.)
If everything goes as planned, this process will create “an incredible amateur and professional hybrid concert experience,” in the company’s words. Not only should the band be able to distribute the video, but fans will be able to create their own experience of the concert by mixing between the various angles, then sharing their creation.
Kyte has dabbled with this concept a bit, and I remember writing up a Daft Punk show for Wired.com that featured footage from attendee’s cellphones, but paired with high-quality audio from the mixing desk (but can’t find the URL). It took a while, but a company is finally focusing on this promising area.
The only hurdle we can foresee: Alerting bands that they should record all of their live shows at high quality, to avoid the unfortunate scenario of multiple fans uploading video to OutListen, only to find that no high-quality audio exists. Assuming the company figures that out, we have high hopes for OutListen (no launch date as of yet).