Virtual gigs to shake up live music industry

An Adelaide radio entrepreneur frustrated by the lack of revenue support for independent musicians says his new “virtual gig” streaming platform has the potential to drastically change how people interact with live music.

Aug 21, 2018, updated Aug 21, 2018
The Netgigs team (Scott Rouvray, Nicole Pilkington, Bart Hwang and founder Joe Mac) have created a new live music streaming platform. Photo: Supplied

The Netgigs team (Scott Rouvray, Nicole Pilkington, Bart Hwang and founder Joe Mac) have created a new live music streaming platform. Photo: Supplied

Netgigs founder Joe Mac will officially launch his live music streaming platform during a six-hour showcase of local musicians at Fowler’s Live this Friday.

The platform allows artists to sell virtual gig tickets priced between $10 to $20 to fans who are unable to attend concerts in-person, but who wish to stream live video footage of the gigs on a pay-per-view basis via the Netgigs website.

Mac launched a self-funded online radio station called iSA Radio in mid-2016 to promote independent South Australian music, but he says the dominance of online streaming services such as Spotify and YouTube meant the platform was unsuccessful at reaching a broad audience.

“We didn’t expect to make a profit from iSA Radio but as it wasn’t resulting in actual revenue for the musicians we shut it down and set about to come up with a different system that would help,” Mac says.

“Over the course of iSA, we had a recording studio and we created a number of videos where we took artists in, we’d record their tracks and video them and those videos got hundreds of thousands of views.

“We realised that video was a much better way of reaching people in today’s technological world than just audio streaming the audio. That’s where Netgigs came in.”

The Netgigs team comprises five part-time workers and operates on self-funding and investment from family and friends.

Mac, who works as an IT professional for his day job, built the Netgigs website himself to allow the company to stream footage over the internet without reducing the overall video quality.

“There is nobody in the world – not just in Australia but around the world – doing this properly, because the only footage of live concerts that we see is really somebody holding up a dodgy iPhone and it’s shaky and going live to Facebook, which is terrible quality,” Mac says.

“This will drastically change how people experience the atmosphere and sound of live music from home.”

Mac says Netgigs is designed to benefit lesser-known musicians, as the company pays artists on average 500 times more than Spotify.

He says approximately 90 per cent of the revenue generated from Netgigs’ virtual ticket sales goes to the artists and music licencing fees.

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“The only way that musicians can make money these days is from recorded music, live tours and sync rights to film.

“Because of Spotify, recorded music is now not a revenue earner because Spotify pays an average of 0.006 cents per play, which is pretty dire.

“Given there’s no way to make money from recorded music and given that touring is so expensive, this is where the Netgigs concept came from, in giving musicians another revenue stream from a single live performance reaching an unlimited number of paying people around the world.”

Mac says potential customers include people who miss out on purchasing tickets to sold-out shows, those who live interstate or overseas to where a concert is being performed, and people whose disabilities prevent them from attending live music venues.

“We’ve done a test at Fowlers before our launch, which included lots of shots of the audience, and the cameras behind are picking up the audience’s hands in the air and it’s capturing the vibe of standing there – especially the cameras in the front row – it’s like you’re looking up in the front row at the singers.

“Obviously it’s not the full experience of actually attending the live show, but we watched these shows on a large screen TV with the volume turned up and it is a fantastic experience, it’s nearly as good as being there.”

Netgigs has set up companies in the US and Ireland and is in the process of launching a Hong Kong-based company to allow it to comply with different countries’ international music streaming regulations.

The platform has already secured its first international partner at a major live music venue in Dublin, and it’s in the process of negotiating a partnership with a Korean production company.

Netgigs’ official opening at Fowler’s Live on Friday night will include performances from South Australian artists Audio Reign, Imogen Brave, Jack Buchanan, Paula Standing, Nuseum and Damon Sparkes.

“If we can launch Netgigs internationally on three continents with a team of five people working over a couple of months working out of hours, imagine what we could do working full-time on this,” Mac says.

“This is just the beginning for what will definitely be a global player in the music industry.”

Netgigs will present Fire At Fowlers this Friday night from 6pm. Virtual tickets are available for $10 on the Netgigs Website (regular tickets are also available at the door).

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