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When I get asked this question, it’s usually by young bands who have developed something of a following through touring, by being really active with their online promotion (typically via MySpace) and by keeping and maintaining a healthy and regular online mailing list.

Their idea is that they would like to perform concerts that fans in other geographic locations could ‘attend’ by going to their website and watching a live webcast of the event. Their second choice is usually to record the concert and post it on YouTube (or similar) and embed it on their site.

Now, it has to be said that live streaming is generally expensive, resource intensive and a bit of a pain – especially if you want more than a few people to watch at once. There are solutions to that, which I’ll discuss – but it’s worth mentioning that there are all sorts of other variations on the theme.

When I talk to my students about gigs, I get them to consider them as three parts of the same whole: Before, During and After. Each is an important part of the gig, and each has its own tasks, responsibilities and (naturally) technological tools that can be leveraged to the benefit of the enterprise.

And there are very sensible reasons to put all three aspects online in one way or another.

Before
Putting the gig promotion online is a bit of a no-brainer. But organising aspects of the event can be done online as well. If it’s something that’s going to take a bit of coordination, you might want to use some online planning tools like Zoho Project or Basecamp in order to bring together diverse people to perform in a joined-up way.

During
The best online tool for streaming your concerts live on the internet is Synchronicity Live. They do all the tricky stuff – you just need a camera, an internet connection, and something interesting happening on stage. Take a feed off the desk to get decent sound. You’ll feel better about the results afterwards.

But there’s more that you can do for your internet while the concert’s happening. Take photographs for the website (yes, from the stage – yes, of your audience). Get your team out in the audience collecting audio feedback, email addresses, etc.

Perform a live ‘ringtone’ and record it to sell or give away on your site. I borrowed that idea off a young punk band who do a 30 second thrash every time they play live that pretty much goes “PICK UP YOUR PHONE!!! PICK UP YOUR PHONE!!! (repeat)” – but they change something (eg inserting the name of the town) every time they do it.

After
Write up the concert. Blog your thoughts about it. Post photographs. Get out a video camera once the band comes off stage and record your thoughts about it – what were the highlights? What do you wish you’d done better? Who was cute in the audience? All that stuff…

And for goodness sake, if you took email addresses for the mailing list, sit down and type a short thankyou email to everyone who attended. Just to them. Give them the website address. Let them know you appreciated them being there, before you add them to the general mailing list that signed up for.

So yeah – put your concert online by all means. And do it in as many ways as you can think of that will be helpful to you and appreciated by your audience.

As many of my readers have pointed out time and again – there’s nothing like the experience of live music, and this can’t be replicated online. I’d add to that the idea that there’s nothing like the online experience to give people a taste of the live event, to reinforce their enjoyment of it, and to fire up their thirst for it.