Clear Channel executives say Instant Live is not so much a foray into the CD business as it is a way to bring in further revenues from live music events.


Clear Channel Enters Concert CD Game By Backing Instant Live Venture
Clear Channel Communications plans to introduce Instant Live, a new venture that will sell live recordings on CD within five minutes of a show's conclusion. The radio giant’s foray into the live CD business had been expected.

The New York Times reports the venture, which will begin modestly, involving only small-audience clubs and theaters in the Boston area, could eventually extend beyond radio and concerts into music distribution. That could prove troubling to some, who already believe company's control of the radio and concert businesses is too dominant.

Clear Channel executives say Instant Live is not so much a foray into the CD business as it is a way to bring in further revenues from live music events, the Times says. And they note that it is simply a continuation of the trend among various bands and start-ups in recent years to sell authorized recordings that are available on CD or as Internet downloads soon after the event. This practice can generate additional revenue for musicians and also thwart illicit concert recordings, they said.

Indeed, in February a group of music executives including Rich Isaacson, David Blanchard and Jerry Blair, started DiscLive, a new company that will allow concertgoers to buy recordings of shows as they leave the venue. The company said it will provide fans with instantly available live discs for sale immediately after the end of a concert. The founders of that company proclaim that they have developed a new revenue stream for the beleaguered music industry, but its success will depend on how many record labels and big-name artists it gets on board.

Clear Channel, meanwhile, has tested the Instant Live service at a half-dozen small-venue concerts since Feb. 27, the report says. In the first instance, people attending a performance by the alternative-rock band Machinery Hall at the Paradise Rock Club in Boston could buy a two-CD recording of that night's show for $15. So far, as many as 30% of the Instant Live concertgoers have purchased CD's at a given event, the Times reports.

To make the discs, a master recording is made that blends music from the band's mixing board with ambient sounds, including crowd noise, from other microphones. As soon as the show ends, the master copy is taken to a small tower of CD burners, each of which can duplicate up to eight discs at a time. Fans will be able to pre-order the discs when they buy tickets for the concert or place orders at any time during or after the performance.

According to the report, Clear Channel would hold as many as five Instant Live concerts a month at small clubs in the Boston area. He said the venture would expand to larger venues and other cities. Clear Channel also has an exclusive distribution agreement with Best Buy to sell Instant Live CD's in eight of its Boston-area stores and, beginning in mid-May, through its BestBuy.com website.