A meeting of minds between the largest events promoter and the largest digital music retailer means music fans can soon buy downloadable audio or video concert footage at select shows and at 80 venues. Live Nation will provide iTunes with exclusive downloadable videos of select concerts performed at more than 80 venues.
The venues are wired for video and audio capture and presumably offer real-time editing suites. While many artists have offered digital packaged copies of live recorded performances at venues and via their websites for some time, the scale of this partnership presents potentially significant revenue opportunities.
What isn’t clear at the moment, other than iTunes offering a special page in iTunes to create shelf space for these live recordings, is how and when the performances will be available for sale. Certainly the timeliness of catching consumers as they leave the venue is an optimal emotive moment for impulse purchase.
However, perhaps the new merchandise might be bundled in the price of the tickets and the recording is made available soon after the performance, but not necessarily as one walks out of the door. In this scenario, it will be interesting to see how long the bundled recorded performances will be charged at an additional cost to consumers. When artists like Prince give their music away for free with the purchase of tickets(while subsidized by a fellow struggling sector of newspapers), it may be difficult to continue to charge additional fees for performance recordings in advance.
Certainly there will be temptations at Live Nation to create additional packaged offers including bundling extra content when 80% of performances fail to sell out.
There is still a general unwillingness for consumers to pay for music even unique and arguably premium recorded music. The exception to the rule, of course, is the older iTunes consumer. Live music enthusiasts will always want the recorded performance, but they will likely find it elsewhere as they have for decades.
Hopefully loyal fans will who make up the lion’s share of ARPU for artist sites, will create meaningful new margins for all involved. Fans of OK Go, Jesse McCartney, Saving Abel, A Fine Frenzy, Plain White T’s and Ziggy Marley may be pleased to be the guinea pigs for this partnership as the first artists to participate in the new deal. Will the big guys follow in weeks to come?
Will AEG who have some similar facilities follow suit with another big partner like WalMart or Amazon? Will smaller venues and Ustream or other similar startups have the resource to strike similar deals or offer similar services? If you already have access to live and studio tracks from the artists will you pay more for the same track performed live? What I want to know (and what I suspect) is that Live Nation will be prevented from bundling the new recordings into ticket sales without giving a kickback to iTunes.