February 28, 2014 at 10:45 am

Want Live Music on your Screens? Try Qello (Updated)

Let’s get this out of the way: There is no perfect app for watching live music on your computer, phone, tablet, and/or television, and there probably never will be. The licensing issues are simply too complicated.

Having once predicted that live online music would start to make sense in 2008, I have a new guess: It will never make sense. Too many people want a piece — bands, managers, venues, labels, publishers, the apps and services themselves, and, possibly, the ISPs and cell data providers who can extract a bounty for delivering the 1s and 0s. On top of that, live shows don’t sound as clean as the album version, the online versions can never come close to replicating the experience of actually being there, and nobody really knows how many people want to pay for them anyway, among the subset of people who want to pay for music.

With all of that out of the way, if you like music, you should try Qello, even though we found its catalog is a bit anemic due to the licensing issues mentioned above. Qello bills itself as “Netflix for music,” but it has nowhere near as many live concerts as Netflix has movies. Qello has about 2200 titles, and many of them aren’t actually shows, but “behind the music”-style documentaries about bands or albums. (See update below: Qello responded with some good news about more concerts to come.)

Qello claims to have “more than four times as many music films as iTunes and Netflix put together,” which we believe — again, because putting together a comprehensive catalog of live music is so difficult. So why are we even telling you about this in the first place? Qello isn’t new, and it won’t have every band you want to see live, or even close to it.

The reason is simply that we’ve been enjoying it. Even without paying, you can get a song or two from just about any band’s show (Look — Deerhunter at McCarren Park in 2008 (pictured)! An Air tour documentary! The Pains of Being Pure At Heart at the Williamsburg Music Hall! Whatever thing you might be into instead!) You get at least one free song from each concert, or there’s a seven-day trial of the $5/month or $45/year service that gets you all of the songs from all of the shows, plus all the documentaries. You can also watch it like the old version of MTV, one music video content item after the other.

If you like music, you should probably try Qello at least once, even if it’s not perfect. It’s available on the web, iOS, several Android configurations, Windows Phone, and native apps for Apple TV, Google TV, and Samsung Smart TV.

Update: Qello director of communications Nicole Johnson responded with news that Qello will be adding many more videos following deals with Universal Music Group and Sony Music:

True, music clearances is a tough game to be in. Although Qello has been around for three years, it is only within the past two months that we closed on the licensing deals with the two biggest music labels in the world (Universal and Sony) who control about 70 percent of all music. So while up to then our catalog came from our deal with Warner Music and a ton of great content providers, we are just about to EXPLODE with a lot more new content.

In fact, right now we have 1500 concert films in the queue for delivery, and more and more content providers are calling us all the time. It’s a very exciting time!

In the past few week’s our New Releases include U2, Madonna, Jack Johnson, Bob Marley, Paul McCartney, Sublime, and more.

As music lovers, we understand that music fans want a place to go where they can watch the live performances of their favorite artists whenever they want – on any device. That is 100 percent our mission: to deliver every music lover’s favorite artists’ greatest live performances and documentaries so they can watch anytime – anywhere they want. We’re on our way! And we will just keep on adding more top quality content.