Apps, Digital & Mobile, Interviews, Music Business — November 26, 2012 at 6:30 pm

A winning combo for quality live videos: BAMM.tv

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Live videos, nothing more common now that everyone has a digital camera/smartphone and doormen are easy with it. Live videos posted to the Internet are as common, with free services like YouTube and Vimeo. But the BAMM.tv website + app combo is – in this services jungle, something more special. The concept, in short, is HD quality professional videos of state-of-the-art bands, generating revenue back to the artists. We sat with Dr Nicholas Hansen, Company Director, to get a broader vision of BAMM.tv activities and how this service would help accelerate the current music industry shift towards its core: the artists.


Music Weekly: BAMM.tv is a virtual venue allowing the app user to attend exclusive gigs. Could we say that BAMM.tv website is more like a catalog of live videos, and that the real experience is through the iPad app?

Nicholas Hansen: Well, it all comes down to how we’re offering the live music video content from our content library. We rotate our library content on a regular basis, and, more or less, the same rotations are shown both on BAMM.tv and in the BAMM.tv iPad App. The BAMM.tv website is available on all devices connected to the internet using a web browser, and is available as a downloadable app for Android users in the Firefox Marketplace. So we’d say that www.bamm.tv is the place to go to head straight for the music.

Anyone can download the iPad App and start using it immediately, but it has features targeted for the real fans of going out and hearing live music performances, wherever they live. It’s modelled on our real-world studio in San Francisco’s SoMa District. The idea is that the things that go on in real life are replicated in the app. So, you hang out in the alleyway waiting for your friends and chatting with people, looking at the old television and radio to discover something new. Then, it’s showtime, and you enter the lobby, and by this point we want you to use your fingers as well as your eyes — explore and discover new and exclusive content here. Pull the fire alarm and see what happens. And then head in to the auditorium and get ready for a show, learn about the band and share what you like with your friends.

The idea with the iPad app is that we want to reward our most active users, so the more you engage with the app, the more “video game badges” you will receive and will be able to spend in the vending machine in the lobby to get even more exclusive content. And to have a say in choosing our artist of the month, which will receive a cash stipend. BAMM.tv stands for Bricks and Mortar Media, so in a digital world you need a bricks-and-mortar space to call home. And that’s what we hope our iPad app will become as we continue to roll out innovations and improvements there — we promise that the more you use it, the more it will reward you.


Are you also hosting live streaming?

Yes, we have the capability to do this, this is something we have done in the past, and we have worked with other companies to feed their live streams. However, if you really look at our videos, we spend a lot of time in the post-production process, making sure we make edits to the beat of the song, which is hard to do when you’re live-switching. So we tend to do it only for special occasions.

 

 

BAMM.tv is one of the only video services focusing on revenues for the artists, right from the beginning. The service acts as a global distributor for the content produced. How does the model work?

Well, it’s important for us to approach our relationship with our artists from a perspective of mutual collaboration. Without focal points like BAMM.tv, artists have a really hard time distinguishing themselves from their contemporaries in a world of almost infinite choice. And without excellent performing artists, BAMM.tv and our contemporaries doesn’t have much of a product to bring to market. So we need to get the balance right, both in terms of what we ask of the artists, and the rewards they get from their participation. All of this is grounded in the idea of: what would be the most appropriate set of circumstances for a “digital-native” environment?

BAMM.tv is not a record label itself, although most of our artists are signed to independent labels. So for us it’s all about the live music performance. Artists and their labels own their own songs, and all we own is the recording of the performance. So we have to make sure to get that right — that means recording each musical element separately, with at least four broadcast-quality high definition cameras. So we’re replicating the “studio sound” from a live music performance, with compelling video to match. That’s why we spend so much time on post-production — because we only have one recording session to create a great asset that people will want to listen to and watch.

Let’s say we record five songs with a band. One of those songs will be turned around and uploaded to social media such as YouTube, Vimeo, Facebook and the artists’ own websites, and as much as possible, we will work with them to coordinate the release of the “singles” from the recording sessions at the right time for the artists. All of the songs will become part of our content library and will be rotated through BAMM.tv’s website and apps. And these performances will also be available to our direct business partners, so you can watch them on diverse platforms throughout the world.

For the artist, this means wide exposure of a well-produced, compelling performance. And as for the financial incentive — we want to be equitable in terms of the numbers, so we think a 50/50 share of our company’s net profits, on the basis of “the more you’re played, the more you’re paid”, is a good place to start.
 

Do you think BAMM.tv will help to reshape the music industry by pushing the artist in a stronger and central position?

That’s really interesting that you identify this. Definitely it’s the direction the overall marketplace is heading. Ten years ago, you’d still go down to your local record shop and pick up a physical good — a CD — and take it home and listen to it. So because distribution of these goods always means you’re dependent upon the infrastructure of others, there is a need for established networks, structures and relationships. So that clearly has an impact on what tracks you’ll have available for purchase at the till.

But, let’s say five years ago, the world had a collective moment of realisation that it’s more effective to ship digital bits and bytes rather than physical particles. My first iPod, bought in 2003, suddenly seemed redundant after buying my first iPhone in 2007. It also seemed a bit silly, all of a sudden, to load a CD into a computer and store it on a hard drive. Why did I need the CD when I had a phone that had a direct internet connection? So, of course that led to upheaval and contradiction in the marketplace — but contradiction also brings opportunity.

So here we are, approaching 2013. For the younger generation — teens — there is no doubt that the number one way of consuming music is on handsets and devices connected to the internet, using YouTube and other video playout services. There’s still a need for established networks, structures and relationships, it’s just that the dynamic has shifted from where things were ten years ago. The music industry is reshaping itself, and it’s all being driven by the youth of today, whether they’re in Seoul, London, Brooklyn or Rio. The artist can reach their communities directly in ways unimaginable ten years ago. Either that’s going to be second-nature to an artist or it’s something they’re going to really have to work at, with a lot of outside advice and support. BAMM.tv is part of the overall equation, but the dynamic is evolving with fluidity, fuelled by technology and those who embrace it.
 


Your current music selection is quite indie. How do you select the acts that will feature BAMM.tv? Are you in a quest of finding the best fresh artists, or do you pinpoint them via global trends?

If you’re saying that our content library tends to be dominated by “indie rock”, yes, we do have rather a bit of that, as you’d expect from having a strong presence in Northern California and in Northwestern Europe. But we do have more diverse content as well, from all important genres. We like to say that we don’t set to do “world music”, but we want to curate the most interesting music we can find from different parts of the world. For example, we’re particularly strong in the Latin music genres, and have good levels of traction in Central and South America, with over a quarter of our content coming from our BAMM Latino programme.

We receive submissions to music@bamm.tv on a regular basis and we reach out to artists we like as well. We’re trying to present to our users curated playlists of compelling artists ready to emerge onto the global scene, and we’re always looking. Beyond that, we’re keen to start a conversation and take it from there.
 

By tracking the likes on the Facebook page, one can see that BAMM.tv has a good following in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Indonesia and Vietnam. How do you explain this interest from the other side of the world?

Overall, I do believe that as the world becomes “smaller” and more intercultural, there’s a natural curiosity as to what’s taking place in different parts of the world. Sure, you see this with “Gangnam Style” becoming the number one most played video on YouTube of all time — that’s really great and PSY is obviously very clever. But it’s more than that.

Our company is built on diversity, and we have something like fifteen different nationalities working with us, out of more or less a staff of 30. So right now, we are featuring on Facebook an extended-run documentary and live performance from a Dutch band from Amsterdam, with a sound fused from Nigerian Afrobeat, Ethiopian jazz, New Orleans funk, London-Jamaican dub and North Atlantic rock. And over 450 people say they “like” this — with a good large number of whom having three-character Traditional Chinese names. This is where we want to be.

More specifically for BAMM.tv, we have a global licence to the content we produce, and we’ve taken an “Asia first” strategy in our distribution efforts. This is reflected in some of the deals we have concluded over the past couple of years. Two examples come to mind. First, we have produced specific apps for Samsung Apps on its Android and Bada platforms — both of which have large user bases in Asia. Second, we have been a content production partner with Chunghwa Telecom in Taiwan, and so we’ve built a user base from that operation. I think it’s fair to say we’ve really tried to structure both of those deals to drive traffic to our social media outlets as much as to earn revenue from them. Hopefully this will make our business activities in the region more sustainable over time.


Do you have upcoming projects in Asia? And what are your thoughts about the music scene and industry here?

Our business is split between a US operation and a UK operation. From the UK, we add value to the content we produce in the US and refine its editorial message, and develop programming models across the business. So, I’ve been on a UK-government sponsored trade mission to Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong, and I’m just off to Singapore and Hong Kong for more of the same next week. One of the unique opportunities we make available to our business partners is the possibility to brand our content as their own. This can be very useful to network carriers, device manufacturers, telecoms operators and IPTV systems seeking to distinguish themselves from their competitors. When we do this, we like to complement our global content with videos that are locally-produced, to our high specifications. So we might go into a market and set up a sound stage and run a series of recordings, say fifteen bands in five days. Then we can attract the best local talent and play that back out to the local audience on an exclusive basis for a period of time, before bringing that into our content library. We’re reaching out to interested parties in the East Asia region, as well as Latin America, as matters of priority.

As for the music scenes, it was fascinating to meet with people in China in May and June of this year. People in Shanghai were telling me they had one eye fixed on what was happening on Taipei, and another on Hong Kong, at all times. People in Hong Kong commended me for having visited Shanghai, saying all the cool, edgy stuff was coming from there. Clearly the industry is more established in Taiwan, and clearly people are looking for localised content, but they’re also looking at what their neighbours are up to and seeking inspiration from there. Cpop, Tpop, Jpop, Kpop, Apop — all of these genres will thrive on their own. It’d be great to see more from multicultural Singapore and KL. I’m keen to experiment with artists and producers on developing mash-ups and remixes that can take what’s already been established to the next level, perhaps creating something a bit funkier and more challenging along the way.

 

 

Where and how do you see the future of live music?

I was blown away when I was meeting with someone in Hong Kong in June and was being told that a large digital cinema had sold out five nights in a row to stream live concert footage over from Japan. It just shows how much people want to go out and be a part of something, and why we’ve used that for our inspiration for our iPad app. I see the future of live music as being much more participatory and interactive — sure, the artist needs to maintain somewhat of a distance from the fan base to be able to perform effectively. But look at what Daft Punk did in their Alive 2007 gigs, embedding mobile phone footage into their live performance, to great effect and warm critical reception. You can’t tell me that with the coming ubiquity of 4G LTE and sophisticated mobile phones and apps, the YouTube-enabled, also very clever music fans wouldn’t appreciate getting an invitation to an “underground” gig, entirely driven by geosocial networking. Imagine getting a push notification at 5 pm saying “hey, you’re within one 1 km of tonight’s secret party and your mobile phone is your entry pass, so don’t go straight home, come and party with us first”.

So, yeah, it’s great to watch things at home, and our iPad app is integrated with Apple TV so you can stream videos right to your hi-def TV and digital sound system. But it’s also great to go out and be a part of it all. Our flagship network programme is our “Global Scene” series, with documentary snapshots showing what it is to be a musician in the world’s most interesting cities, followed by live performances tailored to the local audience. We’d love to bring it to Asia in 2013.

 

Visit BAMM.tv website, and get the iPad app.

 

Comments

  1. […] footage over from Japan,” BAMM.tv’s Co-Founder Nicholas Hansen, said, in an interview with Music Weekly Asia. “It just shows how much people want to go out and be a part of something, and why we’ve used […]