Instant Live

by | Dec 16, 2005

USA TODAY: The boom in live recordings, enjoying unprecedented vitality in the marketplace, is opening new revenue streams for artists while expanding the sonic smorgasbord for listeners.

Today, consumers can pick up freshly pressed CDs of a concert while leaving the venue or point and click to the experience without leaving their driveways.

“The people have spoken, and they want a more intimate relationship with their favorite artists,” says Stephen Prendergast, general manager of Instant Live, which provides professionally recorded and packaged concert CDs immediately (usually within six minutes after the encore) or by mail, as well as digital downloads.

Modeled after the proven but illegal underground network of bootleggers, the company started in 2003, gained traction in 2004 and saw its business explode this year.

“We’re expanding with people that don’t fit the classic established rock act, like The Dears and The Decemberists,” he says. “We did Charlie Daniels and Lorrie Morgan to test the country market. We’re finding that when people want something, they want it now.”

The standard Instant Live CD is $25, and up to 20% of the house might bite, depending on fan-base fervor. The Black Crowes, The Pixies, Jewel, Kiss, Bauhaus and Hall & Oates have shown brisk sales.

As technology allows greater efficiency, Prendergast envisions on-site copying of shows onto fans’ digital devices, personalizing CD keepsakes with a photo and recording shows remotely.