LiveHouse Media hopes to evolve the online concert space with iRocke, which indexes the over 2,000 live music shows it says are happening on the interwebs each month, so you can watch from the comfort of your web browser, smartphone, or tablet — sometimes for free, or sometimes for a fee.
This directory has the somewhat questionable name iRocke (“Iraqi?” “Ay Rock E?” What was wrong with “Livehouse?”), but its design is top-notch, and it indexes everything from random bands you’ve never heard of before to more known artists like Florence and the Machine, playing everywhere from the Morning Becomes Eclectic studio to Austin City Limits.
We’ve seen others (remember NowHound?) attempt this, but nobody has nailed it yet. Part of the challenge is that most people don’t want to see just any live music — they want to see their favorite bands. To that end, the company lets you tweet or Facebook your friends as you add a show to your iRocke calendar, and encourages bands to do so too, which is how we feel like a lot of people will find out about these shows.
In our testing of the beta today, iRocke still had some kinks to work out — the Kongos show supposedly happening right now wouldn’t play, and the Daytrotter session for Pretty and Nice that iRocke says is happening right now doesn’t appear to be on. Still, other shows worked, and we were able to see how the site works: by accepting submissions and adding shows to its directory manually, then giving music fans a wide range of tools (calendars, payment mechanisms, sharing to friends, reviews, ratings, links to the artists’ pages, friend following, genre-based browsing, and so on) with which to find them.
When it comes time to watch a show, iRocke jettisons you to the official source of the show (including Concert Window and thousands of other “venues”), if that’s the only place where it is happening — or, if not, it embeds the show on an iRocke page so you can rate it and leave comments along with other iRocke users.
People are going to these shows, with or without iRocke’s help. According to its blog, 160,000 people watched the Red Hot Chili Peppers play Austin City Limits, which was recently named “the greatest webcast in festival history” by Digital Music News.
Live online music could grow in popularity following the open beta for iRocke, which launches on Saturday, November 10 at a Los Angeles party that Livehouse says will feature a who’s who of live streaming music: American Express (of American Express Unstaged), KCRW (Morning Becomes Eclectic), ClearChannel, Red Bull (Red Bull Soundspace), William Morris Endeavor (booking agents), TRI Studios (TRI Presents), and others.
In other words, this thing is real — and actually, you can try it before the official open beta starts by following this link.
So, how does iRocke find all of these shows? Livehouse/iRocke founder and CEO Karl Rogers told Evolver.fm that the company employs “a variety of automagical and human methods that help us find and curate live stream events that meet our criteria.”
Several of the site’s top show sources are adding their own shows to the directory, which is something Rogers hopes will happen more and more, as word gets out.
“As we grow, we believe more artists and sources will recognize the value of promoting their live stream performances on iRocke, and will begin using our Livepass credentialing platform for all of their live stream shows, regardless of which live streaming platform or content network they utilize or affiliate with. We expect a combination of all of these methods will help us achieve our mission of maintaining the largest index of live stream music performances and artist appearances on the planet.” Those Livepasss can be registered for free or for a fee, depending on how the event is set up.
He says that based on data from “comScore, compete.com, GigaOM, and others,” 150 million people watched live video on the internet in the first quarter of 2011, which is more than voted in the United States presidential election yesterday — and that that will increase to over 320 million by the end of 2014. Granted, only a subset of these views were of live music, but still, those are big numbers and some of those events were live music.
“Precisely how much live stream video viewing is dedicated to viewing live concerts and artist appearances depends on the continued increase in the quantity and quality of live stream concerts, improvements in viewer engagement, and of course significant improvements in promotion and overall consumer awareness by iRocke and others,” said Rogers.
In other words, people need to care about online live music and be able to find it in order for more of it to happen. Chicken, meet egg. Judging from that 160K viewer count from the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Austin City Limits show, this long-awaited (by me anyway) development could finally be ready to take off. If that happens, iRocke (or something else like it) will be a crucial part of that ecosystem, because if a tree in the woods falls on a chicken, it stops laying eggs and this riddle will never get solved.