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3 Ways To Make Money With An Internet Concert

by John Oszajca on June 26, 2011

Internet concert for musiciansDon’t get me wrong, jumping in a van with your bandmates to hit the road for a few weeks is an experience like no other. The people you meet, the fans you make, and the familiar smell of beer soaked bars, (and beer soaked bandmates for that matter), make touring an unforgettable experience to be sure.

However the reality is that van rentals, hotel rooms, the rising cost of fuel and poor pay, make touring something that few bands can afford to do for any sustained amount of time.

But once again, the internet is offering new opportunities for musicians who would like to perform for an audience, and actually make money doing it.

Enter the internet concert. Streaming live (or even pre-recorded) concerts is quickly becoming a great way to perform for an audience and generate income, without the hassle and expense of a traditional touring.

Here are 3 ways to set up your own Internet concert…

1. Ustream.com – Ustream is a live interactive broadcast platform. Anyone with an internet connection and a camera can start engaging with their fans anytime, anywhere. Ustream is very easy to set up, and it provides a very simple user experience, but it also presents a few challenges when it comes to monetizing your broadcast.

Ustream does now offer a pay-per-view option however it is not available to everyone and there is no simple way to integrate an email reminder feature into the Ustream platform.

Short of being approved for a pay-per-view broadcast, the simplest way to monetize the event would be to promote a URL where fans can purchase albums and merch during the broadcast itself.

2. Stageit.com – StageIt was created by music industry veteran Evan Lowenstein, and while the user experience is not as simple or intuitive as something like Ustream, the service does offer a very simple way to monetize live performances via the Internet.

StageIt works like this: An artist creates a show, sets the price or suggested donation, then invites his/her fans to show up. That’s about it. One thing to be aware of is that StageIt also uses “Notes” instead of dollars. The currency exchange is 10 Notes for each $1. That allows users to offer tips in increments as small as .10 cents.

Stageit offers an experience that is much more in sync with the live concert experience, however the fact that you need to educate your fans to the registration process and the “note” to dollar conversion rate does add a bit of undesirable complexity. To my knowledge Stageit does not offer autoresponder integration either.

3. A third option – which I personally am very excited about, but which I am have not seen any musicians explore yet – is to use a “Webinar” application or service.

A Webinar is a transmission of an audio and visual media file scheduled at a particular time or on demand over the Internet. The content comes from a single source to multiple viewers simultaneously and is viewed on the attendee’s computer.

Traditionally Webinars are used for educational purposes, however they offer all of the elements that are essential to creating a seamless and profitable live concert, and there is no reason they cannot be branded specifically for a music.

The way a webinar would work is that you would send your fans to an order page where they would purchase a ticket to your show, (or offer free tickets and monetize the event with album sales). Once the ticket was purchased you would redirect your fan to the webinar registration page. Most webinar applications have a built in email notification system that reminds people about the event 24 hours, 3 hours, and 5 minutes before the event begins. The nice thing about this is that it can be integrated with a quality email management system such as Aweber.

A Webinar puts you in complete control of the process which in turn offers the most opportunities for you to monetize the event.

One way that you might consider using the Webinar approach is to contact webmasters, companies, or even individuals who possess a large email list, and offer to throw a live concert just for their subscribers. You can brand the event specifically for their organization and you can offer to split the profits as an incentive.

This allows you to effectively book an online tour with no financial risk. Most importantly, by integrating your own email management system into the registration process you can build your mailing list by the hundreds with every sponsored gig. IE, when your “sponsor” sends people to register for your live event they are effectively joining YOUR mailing list. This gives you the opportunity to promote your music, live events and merchandise to those subscribers for years to come, regardless of whether or not they purchase anything during your live concert.

There are two Webinar solutions out there that I have personally explored…

The first is GoToWebinar. GoToWebinar is arguably the leading webinar service provider. The system is robust and bug free, but unfortunately there is not much control over the look of the application. That means that the event itself would be presented as a “Webinar” as apposed to a “Live Concert” and you wouldn’t have much control over customizing the process. They are also a bit on the pricey side, starting at $99 per month.

Another solution that I recently purchased myself is handy little piece of software called “Automated Webinar Generator”. Automated Webinar Generator is offered for a one time payment rather than on a monthly bases. It sells for $297, and while that price tag may sound a bit steep, the reality is that a single show can easily cover the cost. AWG is a script which you install on your own server. Once installed there is a set up wizard that makes the whole process relatively painless. AWG integrates with all of the major autoresponder companies and while they are also branded as “Webinar” software out of the box, because the software is installed on your own server it is easy to hire a designer to change the look and feel of the player so that it is presented as a “live Concert” instead of a “Webinar”.

*Note: I had Scott James from WebsitesForRockstars.com make some design changes to my webinar for an extremely affordable price.

One thing that is different about Automated Webinar Generator is that it only allows you to stream pre-recorded webinars. But it presents the video as though it is happening in real time. The user sees a countdown screen until the event begins, at which time users are redirected to what appears to be a live event. Users can see the name’s of other attendees and there is also a chat box that allows users to ask questions.

This allows you to effectively record one event and present it every day of the week, even several times a day. You can then send everyone who missed it a reminder to check out the replay of the show the next day. You can be as transparent as you like about the fact that the event is pre-recorded, but the software is designed to make everything about the experience feel as though it is actually happening in real time.

These are by no means the only solutions out there, but at the end of the day I much prefer a solution that allows you to control the entire sales funnel, gain subscribers in the process, and make the most money possible as a result.

We are still very much at the dawn of the internet concert age. There will undoubtedly be new solutions popping up every year. However for those of you who would like to connect with your audience directly, but don’t have the money, time, or ability to physically hit the road, an internet concert is certainly something worth exploring.

So now it’s your turn….

What do you think of the Internet Concert idea? Is this the way of the future? Or are you a purist who thinks that the only way to perform is in a loud, beer soaked (in a good way) bar?

Maybe you’ve already thrown your own internet concert?

Leave a comment and share your thoughts and/or experiences…

Thanks guys,

– John

{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

mark Pinkus September 19, 2011 at 5:54 pm

HI JOhn, thanks for your email response today. I have a question for you. The emails that you send out to those that you have “relationships with”..do you send out personal emails to each person to promote the cd with there name etc or an all in one shot group email send to everyone at the same time? this is very important to know how you do this. thanks so much! till next time, peace, Mark

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John Oszajca September 19, 2011 at 6:02 pm

I send out email broadcasts using Aweber: http://www.aweber.com/?293770

Having a good email management system is imperative. Aweber has a feature that allows you to add a “name” field which then takes everyone’s first names and adds it to the email so that each mail goes out saying “Hi Mark…”. It allows you to send personal emails to thousands of people with a single click.

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Raphy September 11, 2011 at 2:38 pm

Thanks John for the interesting article.
I am wondering how feasible will this really be for a musician.
S/he needs to rent a place, hire cameras, lights and a technical team in order to perform. This would cost some significant money + paying for the webinar a few hundreds of dollars.
Also the musician would have to put some effort in promoting the show ahead of time.
Would musicians be ready to do what it take for a live stream performance? I guess it depends on the return they are expecting from it.
Also which “type” of musician would do that? I guess that the stars do not need it; and the others might not have the money to invest.
What do you think?

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John Oszajca September 11, 2011 at 5:41 pm

Hi Raphy,

The only real expense is the webinar software if you decide to go that route. But it can be done cheaper with services like stageit. Lights and cameras are a plus, but many artists are doing this with nothing more than their web cam. And as far as what kind of artists can do this… there really is no limit. Many indie artists are embracing this appraoch, but countless super stars have put on internet concerts as well.

Thanks for the comment. Glad you liked the article.

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tonyrusso August 16, 2011 at 11:13 pm

Hi; John i would like to get your course you said you could try it out for 4.95 and i have some very important questions to ask you thank you tonyrusso

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John Oszajca August 17, 2011 at 6:06 am

Hi Tony,

The course is not available for $4.95 but rather there was a special trial period offered where you could try it for $4.95 for 30 days at which point you would be billed the full amount. Obviously, if you didn’t like it, you would just email me and you would not be billed the second payment. This is just a good faith offer so that people can try the course with no significant risk. The offer is over now but if you email me at john@musicmarketingmanifesto.com I’ll see what I can do.

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joanna June 29, 2011 at 9:53 pm

I tried once ustream (I watch some live shows there) but I found it not that easy to use, I was alert for stageit but haven’t try it yet. As for webinars I a fan, have attended online, as you said gotowebinar is leading. Anyhow I think internet concert/webinar is an area that needs exploitation, going to be mainstream in future specially for smaller acts that can’t or don’t choose traditional live way, by the way its all about digital age now right?

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Tim Hief June 28, 2011 at 3:32 am

Hi John,

Of course the concept is sound, it lends itself to all kinds of embellishments. Remember the Peter Frampton ‘live’ album, a spin of your idea might be to have something like a studio crowd and without panning the venue, a clever production of it could add additional crowd noises.

Another method to draw folks in would be to do an unplugged performance that is very intimate, you could allow members of the ‘special fan club’ (or something like that) to submit song request since they are ‘fans’ and know the songs. Artist could have a short intermission and encourage non fan club members to join before the artist returns.

Another idea, the artist could do a special concert for someone’s party… paid of course and have it piped in. The fan could toss it up on their wide screen tv for everyone watch, and all with the necessary acknowledgements to the host… blah blah.

It’s endless. Great idea.

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Lucas February 10, 2012 at 8:54 pm

Glad you joenid us! You said it exactly right.“Yeah. This is just it! THIS is what the internet is about.”

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Mal June 27, 2011 at 9:48 pm

cheaper than flying around the world, and reach a niche market in every/any country you like
mal

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Music Marketing Chris June 27, 2011 at 2:37 pm

It’s so cool how you take these online marketing concepts and effortlessly apply them to music.

I really think you do that better than most!

Keep it coming, really enjoying the new membership site.

– Chris

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Caleb Matteis June 27, 2011 at 1:08 pm

John Great article, you gave me some great ideas. Thanks again!

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Jai June 27, 2011 at 12:17 pm

Great post. Having been on countless internet marketer lists for some time, getting ins and outs of the general online marketing game, I’ve seen various webinars on GoToWebinar and considered off and on that it would make the perfect budget(ish) live concert venue. It’s a logical step for the musician to include in their music marketing, glad you’ve pointed it out. All I would add is for a live-styled performance, although pre-recorded, YouTube would be an ideal platform, for concerts in segments of 10 mins. Or 10 mins mini concerts, for collectibility! There’s also the extended video option that surpasses the 10 min mark. Obviously, this would be free to host and could be monetized with links from the screen, page and YT profile page to music and merch sales, and YT – or equivalent – is relatively customizable, too. It’s whatever suits.

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Adamhoek June 27, 2011 at 11:25 am

For the last few months I’ve been doing online concerts, but doing them through Second Life. It really has been a lot of fun, and has bumped up my email list quite well and people can tip you there as well.

Also for the hipster indie kinda musicians, there is stickam.com which is kinda like ustream but more focused towards teens.

Just things to look at

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Andy Rogers June 27, 2011 at 11:14 am

John,

Great re-use of a webinar!

You can also embed a live ustream feed into a page on your own website. This gives you the ability to monetize, capture emails and keep folks on your site.

I did this a while back and broadcast a small house concert from my own living room, had almost 300 folks view it live (and others watch the replay) and sold album downloads in the process.

Next time I’ll try your joint venture idea – that’s golden. I’m thinking you could use paydotcom.com to handle the affiliate sharing process?

Andy

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Patrick June 27, 2011 at 11:01 am

Great article John,

Since I am a non toeing artist who still takes my career very seriously, this is something I have been looking into. For the live show experience upstream sounds great to give fans an added value bonus to create some goodwill!

I find the hardest thing about it is getting people to help stream the show while my band performs! Any suggestions in getting people inspired to get involved?

Cheers,
Patrick

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Corey Koehler June 26, 2011 at 9:27 pm

Why didn’t I think of that? Effing genius John. :)

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John Oszajca June 26, 2011 at 9:31 pm

Thanks Corey! Just playing around with it. the self hosted options have a few kinks to iron out if you want to customize things. But it’s nothing you can’t take care of in an afternoon.

Incidentally, I just bought my viral script from that same company.

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