I discovered StageIt, a streaming video service for live performances; a little late in the game. It launched about eight months ago, coinciding with my relocation from NYC to LA; and to be fair, most of my days were consumed with decoding Los Angelinos. For example: Why would anyone choose Leno over Letterman, ever? Why do they bring their cats and plants in, when it drops to 55 degrees? And why, no matter what the distance, does getting anywhere always take about “twenty minutes”?
Saturday afternoon. Proseco. Pringles.Big Screen TV, and I’m ready to check out my first StageIt concert from the comfort of my own couch. It is a Pledger’s Only Exclusive from LA based Singer/Songwriter, Keaton Simons.
Musicians have to eat and it can be hard to make a buck in the industry today. The Federal minimum wage for non-exempt employees is $7.25 per hour, although in some states, such as California, it is slightly higher–weighing in at $8.00 per hour. That’s not a lot of eating! Here’s some perspective, according to InformationIsBeautiful.net; in order for a musician to make minimum wage, every month they would have to sell approximately 143 self pressed CD’sOR receive 850,000 plays on Rhapsody OR 1.5 million plays on LastFM OR 4 million plays on the new Spotify. Touring is expensive and most often not profitable. And, unlike Santa Claus, it’s logistically impossible for musicians to canvas the world in a sleigh or RV/Tour Bus.
But now, tech savvy musicians have another potential revenue stream to add to their repertoire. Enter, StageIt.
What is StageIt?
It is a live streaming video service, which can accommodate any performance or event. It was founded by Evan Lowenstein of indie duo Evan & Jaron, in part out of the need to create new ways to reach their audience outside the touring scene.
Basically, musicians set up an account and are given a choice of when and how long to play. Tickets are sold, using ‘virtual currency‘, called ‘Notes’, worth .10cents each. There is a continual running ‘chat box‘ crawling up the side of the screen, visible to artists and fans, which allows immediate interaction and chat. Fans can request songs, artists can respond directly to comments, and I learned some new net lingo; 2G2BT,HNTW and ^5. There is a ‘virtual tip jar‘, which you can drop ‘notes‘ into. This appears on the side bar as well, with the ‘tippers‘ name and amount ‘tipped‘. There is a countdown to showtime pre-screen, which musicians can also embed a promo and merchandise options on.
The service is free but StageIt takes 40% of revenue excluding merchandise sales. There is no minimum required so StageIt only makes money when the artist makes money. Artists are paid via check or PayPal and StageIt pays licensing fees, so artists can do covers. Marketing is done by the artists and the shows are not recorded or archived, which increases their value and exclusivity.
For those of you who follow my e-zine; past and present, you know that Keaton Simons is one of my favorite Singer/Songwriters; lyrical prowess, wrapped in bluesy overtones, the consummate professional with a contagious and captivating energy, that makes us feel vulnerable and strong, all at once. As I’ve said before, give the man a guitar, and he can captivate a room–even this ‘cyber room‘ for a live streaming concert. At 1:30 on this overcast Saturday afternoon, he enters, sits in front of his computer–guitar in hand, greets and thanks everyone for ‘coming out‘, followed by a little fan chat preamble, while his audience checks in from Ventura to New York, Australia to Texas, San Francisco to Santa Fe. “This is the largest venue I’ve ever played,” he quips jovially.
He opened with Currently, a tune from his 2008 release, Can You Hear Me and followed this up with a fan request, If I Hadn’t Forgotten, which was sang as a duet with Didi Benami on a recent episode of ABC’s Private Practice. He continued with banter, discussion and requests, seamlessly flowing from previous material to highly anticipated songs from the upcoming album, at one point performing a medley, featuring Michael Jackson’s Smooth Criminal, which inspired the biggest audience cyber sing along of the night.
Keaton summoned other highlights with a blues-flavored rendition of “Lift Me Up”, a song which proved his genuine ability and authenticity as a blues player. His inspired, creative mix of blues, soul and rock, lends testament to Keaton, as an artist who continues to grow stronger, mature and masterfully tackle, the most complex music; both lyrically and instrumentally. The ever inspiring and lyrically forceful tune, ”Beautiful Pain” was haunting in its simplicity and raw in its emotion. He even took my request for Black & White, which he co-wrote with Jay Ollero, and which was featured in the Disney movie, Prom. Keaton Simons is a fine musician, better than you might expect. It would be hard to dispute that he’s a talented, solid performer, no matter what the venue.
The 30 minute show ended with Keaton thanking his fans and supporters, with a sincerity that can only be bred from genuine gratitude, giving his audience one more reason to appreciate his talent. The incredibly intimate experience, was an exclusive, Pledgers Only event. However, Keaton promises another such show, when he reaches the 75% mark, which is just around the corner. If you haven’t supported Keaton yet, check out his PledgeMusic page, where you can meet the artist and participate in the creation. Additionally, once his goal is reached, Falling Whistles, an advocacy and educational movement for Peace In The Congo, also benefits.
About Heather Jacks
Vixen of Vocabulary who likes to wax poetic about the world of street art, music,busking and all things indie. She has earned two college degrees, traveled extensively and written three books. She is currently finishing the multi-media project, The Noise Beneath the Apple Art-Style Book, to be released in NYC, Spring 2013.