Note: This story ran Monday. The same day, the concert was postponed a month because of COVID. Sigh ….
Almost 300 people could be sitting in the Bank of NH Stage this week to watch a rocking country show on the stage, but the real question is: How many will also be watching from home?
The Thursday show of April Cushman will see a debut of a hybrid system known as Live On festival from Nashua-based TS Event Productions that will film and show high-quality live streaming to folks who bought a $17.99 ticket even as the live performance goes on for those who paid $34.99.
It’s the first such hybrid show here but won’t be the last. “We’re planning on doing a bunch of these in Concord this year,” said Tyler Soucy, president of TS Event Productions.
The goal is to combine the energy of a live show, important to artists who are unenthusiastic about performing for a camera in an empty room, with the extended audience and money-making reach of the internet.
“If you’re testing new concepts and new ideas, what better place to do it?” said Salvatore Prizio, executive director of Capital Center for the Arts, which owns the smaller Bank of NH Stage. “I can imagine in the future, our subscribers – some would come to an in-person series, and others would be like a Netflix subscriber, only subscribing to your streaming services.”
The online ticket, available at liveonfestival.show, also includes access to a replay of the concert for 10 days.
Soucy said the system creates a new way to make money for artists who saw collapsing record sales leaving them dependent on revenue from live shows, only to have the pandemic kick the legs out from under that revenue stream.
A few venues have been experimenting with simultaneous online streaming and live performances, such as City Winery in Boston, but it’s still an idea in development. Among other things, having lighting and audio that works both for an online audience and people in front of the stage can be tricky.
TS Event Productions is renting the Bank of NH Stage and will be doing the technical setup, including what Soucy called cinema-grade cameras, but the quality of the theater’s system is part of the reason they came here.
Prizio said he thought that quality of production would be the key to drawing paying customers to a streaming service, since there are so many free performances viewable online.Support the Concord Monitor. Subscribe Today
“You need to have the atmosphere of world-class performance,” he said.
Cushman is a New Hampshire native who has long been a presence in the region’s music scene who describes herself as a “mom, wife, farmer and a hillbilly songwriter.” Thursday’s show with her band is part of a tour supporting her debut album, The Long Haul.
“She’s a local artist we’ve been watching and done some work with in various venues,” Soucy said. Providing outlets for local artists like Cushman is part of the goal of the company, which is independent and has to work around the stranglehold that Ticketmaster and Live Nation have on live acts. Soucy said in the current environment, artists often miss out on much of the profits from their own performances.
“Here’s a cool opportunity from the technology standpoint that will allow us to close the gap,” he said.
Soucy said the company has been around for about eight years as concert promoters and doing audio-video production.
“When the pandemic hit, we set up a live-streaming studio with a couple of partner companies in the Courtyard in Nashua. Investors from the Boston area and artist-relation folks connected with us got interested, and we started a three-way partnership there,” he said.
Soucy said the company is developing a system in which large video displays will be part of the performance that can show people who are watching at-home, allowing an interaction with the artist over the internet.
“It will be kind of like a big Zoom call,” he said.