Here are some more views on Instant Live:
Early this month, we reported on the growing phenomenon of bands selling CDs or even uploads onto USB flash drives of concert recordings right after the concert would end. One company (DiscLive) estimated that it would gross up to US$500,000 during this Spring from selling live CDs. The fans are happy, the bands are happy, everyone is happy. Unfortunately, in a move that will put the brakes on an emerging industry, Clear Channel has purchased the patent from the inventors of the technology and is asserting that it is the only entity that can sell concert CDs right after gigs.
"We want to be artist-friendly," says Steve Simon, a Clear Channel executive vice president and the director of Instant Live. "But it is a business, and it's not going to be 'we have the patent, now everybody can use it for free.'"
Of course not, especially when patent enforcement has become a potentially lucrative source of revenue. It matters little if the patent makes any sort of sense or should even have been granted in the first place. It looks as though Clear Channel is looking to use this patent to get in on the post-concert recording action in a big way. While they have allowed some bands to license the technology for a dollar, other groups are starting to see the squeeze. The Pixies, who are planning a Fall reunion tour, have discovered that DiscLive will not be able to sell recordings after their concerts at Clear Channel venues.
"Presuming Clear Channel's service and product are of equal quality, it may be best to feed the dragon rather than draw swords," says Pixies manager Ken Goes. "Still, I'm not fond of doing business with my arm twisted behind my back."
This is crazy. I'm certain that Mike from Techdirt won't be the only one confused over the sense in this patent:
"Why does selling concerts via a CD burner immediately after the show need a special patent?"
So a band has to cut Clear Channel into the revenue of instant burns after their own live concert? Something is just very, very wrong with this! Rolling Stone:
But in a move expected to severely limit the industry, Clear Channel Entertainment has bought the patent from the technology's inventors and now claims to own the exclusive right to sell concert CDs after shows. The company, which is the biggest concert promoter in the world, says the patent covers its 130 venues along with every other venue in the country.
It's no wonder why so many people have gotten disgusted with the music industry. I guess artists should be grateful -- insert heavy sarcasm -- that Clear Channel isn't going to charge those who market live recordings days later than the concert. Bands like Pearl Jam and more recently Metallica have been embracing this growing trend as a way to boost revenue from their concerts and music.
Clear Channel doesn't plan to stop Phish, Pearl Jam, the Who or other bands that make live recordings available days after the show. It has also granted one-dollar licenses to a few up-and-coming bands to record and sell instant CDs of their own shows.
I think the music industry will not be happy until they can live on another planet with all their precious musical properties safe in a vault in the middle of the planet.
Clear Channel Entertainment says the expansion of its Instant Live LLC division this summer comes as both a promising new initiative and an important evolution for the concert industry.
Critics say Clear Channel's aggressive roll-out of the digital recording company will only serve to further threaten the health of the concert industry and artists. In fact, one national organization is attempting to "bust" the patent around which Instant Live LLC was essentially created.
Clear Channel Entertainment (CCE) is an increasingly important arm of San Antonio-based media giant Clear Channel Communications Inc. Among its holdings are numerous concert venues -- including Verizon Wireless Amphitheater in nearby Selma.
In April, CCE announced that Instant Live LLC had acquired the U.S. business-method patent for creating and distributing digital concert recordings at live music events. Since then, the company has continued to record, duplicate, package and market live recordings of various music artists to concertgoers as they leave various venues.
In late June, CCE and Instant Live LLC launched an aggressive expansion of the on-site recording system, which is also referred to as Instant Live. Among the acts participating this summer are Jewel and KISS, but CCE is working to sign agreements with "dozens" of other acts as well.
Brian Becker, CCE's CEO, calls Instant Live one of "several exciting new initiatives," and adds, "As we enter widespread use this summer, it's clear to us, to artists and to fans that Instant Live is an enormous step forward for the concert industry . ..."
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is a nonprofit civil liberties organization based in San Francisco. It was co-founded in 1990 by Grateful Dead lyricist John Perry Barlow and currently has an office in Austin. The EFF has come down hard on Clear Channel and has included Instant Live LLC's patent as one of 10 it is attempting to have revoked by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
The EFF claims Instant Live is forcing even popular acts to deal with Clear Channel and CCE instead of burning their own live CDs or choosing to use the services of other companies. It argues that CCE and Instant Live LLC are using an arm-twisting approach that will limit artists' options and revenues.
EFF attorney John Schulz says the kind of patent Instant Live LLC is using to conduct its business has become increasingly controversial in the last few years. He says these business-method patents, as they are called, inspire monopolistic behavior that are not healthy for industries, such as music, where creativity and diversity are supposed to blossom.
One of the companies the EFF claims could become hamstrung by Instant Live LLC is Hyburn Inc. The Phoenix-based firm claims it has sold instant CDs at dozens of concerts for the last three years. The founder of the company has suggested that CCE and Instant Live LLC may be attempting to squeeze Hyburn out of business. Hyburn President Pamela Getz says she doesn't want to get into verbal wars with Clear Channel or any of its subsidiaries. "We have not run into a problem with them yet. But we have yet to venture into a Clear Channel venue," she says.
Others are less diplomatic. The EFF and the American Federation of Television & Radio Artists (AFTRA) often find themselves on opposing sides. Not this time.